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What to Expect at an Addiction Rehabilitation Facility

Seeking treatment for an addiction—or substance use disorder—takes courage. Though many aspects of recovery may appear daunting, knowing what to expect during rehab can help. This page will explore addiction rehab, the types of treatment for substance use disorder, and how to get started with recovery.

What Is Addiction Rehab?

Rehabilitation programs for drug or alcohol use vary widely depending on the type of program and a person’s treatment needs.1(principles of effective treatment #1) These programs may consist of anything from 24/7 inpatient treatment at a hospital or weekly outpatient treatment.1(types of treatment programs) Some people may benefit from medications during rehab, and others may respond best to certain behavioral therapies.1(principles of effective treatment #7, what is drug addiction treatment paragraph2).

The goal of all addiction treatment programs is to help people stop compulsively seeking and using substances.1(what is drug addiction treatment) Due to the chronic nature of substance use disorder and frequency of relapse, many people require multiple treatments or longer treatment lengths before achieving steady remission.1(what is drug addiction treatment) Progress in recovery is highly dependent on adequate treatment length.1(how long does drug addiction treatment last?) For most people, participation in a program for less than 90 days has limited efficacy.1(how long does drug addiction treatment last)

For all rehab centers and treatment programs, the level of treatment a person enrolls in depends on the severity of their substance use disorder and their personal needs.1(principles of effective treatment #2)

Levels of Addiction Treatment

Treatment for substance use disorder is viewed on a continuum of care.2(pg.4-3 last paragraph) A person often undergoes multiple “levels” of treatment as they progress and are reassessed during recovery.2(pg.4-16 individualized treatment planning) The following levels of treatment are often found in rehabilitation facilities and other addiction recovery programs:

  • Detoxification is the process in which the body clears out a substance from a person’s body.1(types of treatment programs) And it is often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms.1(types of treatment programs) To provide symptom relief and safety, medically managed withdrawal is often offered in rehab.1(types of treatment programs) Undergoing detox in rehab can set a person up for ongoing treatment, provide comfort and encouragement, and minimize any life-threatening symptoms.1(types of treatment programs)
  • Inpatient treatment may occur in a hospital or residential setting. Since people live there 24 hours a day, this level of treatment is able to provide more intense support and structure for people who are recovering.2(pg.4-18 paragraph 3&4) They may also have the ability to treat co-occurring mental or medical disorders, thus providing more comprehensive care that might not be found in a less rigorous setting.2(pg.4-18 paragraph 3&4)
  • Outpatient treatment varies widely in its intensity and duration, but all allow a person to live at home. Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) or intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are often a first step for people who have completed a course of inpatient treatment.2(pg.4-18 5th paragraph) These intensive programs may have services available for 6–8 hours per day during the work week.2(pg.4-18 5 and 6th paragraphs) Traditional outpatient programs may only meet a couple of times per week.2(pg.4-18 5 and 6th paragraphs)
  • Aftercare or continued care consists of ongoing involvement with recovery support services (RSS) after completing formal treatment.2(pg.4-31 recovery support services) Addiction is a chronic disease that requires chronic care.1(what is drug addiction treatment) Becoming involved with RSS, such as case management, recovery coaches, peer support groups, or sober living homes, can make a big difference in long-term health.2(pg.4-31 recovery support services)
  • Mutual aid groups are a form of RSS that are free, community-based, and highly flexible around a person’s scheduling needs.2(5-8 mutual aid groups) Being self-led by members, people at all stages of recovery can join to find encouragement, peer support, and the opportunity to help others like themselves.2(5-8 mutual aid groups) Mutual aid groups may be a part of treatment during rehab, but many people also benefit from them before entering formal treatment.2(5-8 mutual aid groups)

In all levels of treatment, behavioral therapies and sometimes medication play a role in recovery.1(principles of effective treatment #6 and #7) Which therapies and medications are used depends on the type of substance used, the severity of a person’s condition, and other personal factors.1(what is drug addiction treatment)

Therapy at Rehab

Behavioral therapy plays a large role in healing from addiction.1(behavioral therapies) Therapy may assist with treatment engagement, modify attitudes and behaviors related to substance use, and develop skills to manage stress and other triggers for use.1(behavioral therapies) Examples of commonly used behavioral therapies include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) works to change harmful behaviors by first identifying harmful thought patterns and working on modifying them.2(pg.4-26 cognitive-behavioral therapy) Participants develop skills to combat negative thinking and use self-monitoring to recognize personal risk factors for relapse.2(pg.4-26 cognitive-behavioral therapy)
  • Contingency management is a type of therapy that involves tangible rewards to support positive behavioral changes.2(pg. 4-27 contingency management) The goal is to help a person continue engagement with treatment through the end and encourage abstinence.1(contingency management)
  • Family behavioral therapy is common among recovering youth, but it can also be helpful with adults as well.1(family behavior therapy) This type of therapy involves at least one significant person in the patient’s life and addresses any co-occurring problems with substance use in a person’s life.1(family behavior therapy)

These, and other forms of therapy, may be completed in a group or individually with a counselor.2(pg.4-26 behavioral therapies) Many programs utilize both forms for the same type of therapy, giving a person the opportunity to have private sessions and to learn with others in similar situations.2(4-26 behavioral therapies)

Medication and Addiction Recovery

Medication is commonly used during detox and is available for ongoing treatment for some substances.1(principles of effective treatment #7), 2(pg.4-12 acute stabilization and withdrawal management) Medically assisted detox can help minimize discomfort and danger from withdrawal symptoms.2(pg.4-12 acute stabilization and withdrawal management) For example, withdrawal syndrome from alcohol or other sedative/tranquilizers may produce life-threatening seizures during withdrawal.2(pg.4-12 acute stabilization and withdrawal management)

However, not all rehabs offer medication for ongoing treatment, or their selection may be limited. If a person desires a particular medical intervention during detox or with ongoing treatment, it may be helpful to inquire about its availability before enrolling. For example, prescribing buprenorphine and methadone for opioid use disorder requires specific certifications that not all addiction centers are able to provide.2(pg.4-22 last paragraph and 4-23 last two paragraphs)

Does Rehab Work?

Rehab can be effective for substance use disorder, and addiction treatment has led many back to stable and productive lives after addiction.2(pg.5-5 and 5-6 estimating the number of people..) Due to the chronic nature of addiction, a person may require multiple sessions of treatment after cycles of relapse before finding stability.2(pg.5-3 first paragraph) But long-term recovery is possible.2(pg.5-3 first paragraph) In fact, nearly 10% of adults in the United States (about 25 million people) admit to once having a problem with substance use but no longer having one.2(pg.5-6 first paragraph)

Treatment for addiction offers hope for a substance-free life. One of the main indicators of good future outcomes is whether or not a person stays in treatment for the necessary amount of time.1(how long does drug addiction treatment usually last) Healing is available, and addiction is treatable for those who continue in its pursuit.1(principles of effective treatment #1 and #5)

Finding Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are looking for the right addiction rehabilitation center, there are many available. Virtue Recovery Center (VRC) offers multiple accredited treatment centers at the following locations:

Its rehab facilities offer detox, inpatient programs, outpatient programs, and aftercare management and resources for their enrollees.

For a variety of addiction needs, VRC can provide the necessary treatment. Call today to speak with an admissions counselor to find answers you may have about rehab. An inquiry today may save a life tomorrow.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide. (third edition).
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General. (2016, November). Facing addiction in America: The surgeon general’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health. Washington, DC.

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Are You Covered For Treatment?

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