Updated on February 6, 2024
8 min read

What Is Rehab Like?

In the context of substance abuse, rehab refers to a structured treatment program or facility that helps individuals through the rehabilitation process of addiction.

In a rehab facility or program, patients receive support from medical professionals to help them through detoxification to long-term abstinence and aftercare. 

The three main types of rehab programs include: 

  • Inpatient treatment (IP)
  • Outpatient treatment (OP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) 

What is Rehab Like?

Rehab offers a customized treatment plan for each patient, based on their medical history and needs.

A standard rehab treatment program will usually offer multiple therapies, including: 

  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychoeducational programming
  • Pharmacology or medication management
  • Case management
  • Drug testing
  • 24-hour crisis coverage 

Inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization rehab programs serve patients with different needs and vary in terms of their structure and time commitment.

At all rehabs, the patient can expect to go through a detoxification process followed by abstinence and abstinence maintenance, learn coping skills, and receive some education in addiction, all under medical professionals’ supervision.

Length of treatment depends on the individual and their needs, although the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a minimum of 90 days of rehab treatment for maximum effectiveness.

Types of Rehab for Addiction

Treatment options include:

Inpatient Treatment Centers

Inpatient treatment or residential treatment provides a high level of care that is recommended for individuals with severe addiction problems or multiple illnesses. In an inpatient treatment program, a patient can expect a 24-hour structured environment in a non-hospital setting. 

Because the patient will be living away from their home, inpatient treatment can be a supportive option for patients who do not have a safe and supportive living situation. Inpatient treatment typically ranges from 3 to 12 months in duration.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient rehab offers similar therapies to those provided in inpatient rehab, but instead of living full-time at the facility, patients return home after treatment each day. In an outpatient program, the patient will attend treatment for a set number of days and hours of the week and will also have the ability to continue working.

Outpatient treatment is typically less expensive than residential or inpatient treatment. This program is generally recommended for patients who have already undergone detoxification and have less severe alcohol problems and extensive social support. 

Partial Hospitalization Program

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) refers to an outpatient treatment program in which the patient receives daily medical care and treatment in a hospital environment under medical professionals’ supervision. 

These programs are a bit more demanding than outpatient programs because they require a daily commitment. However, patients do not need to stay overnight. PHP’s are recommended for patients who need intensive treatment during the day but are able to return to a stable home environment in the evening. 

A PHP program may be a good option for patients who have already completed inpatient treatment and want to continue treatment as they transition back into their everyday lives.


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Therapy Options for Addiction

Therapies include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of behavior therapy that explores how patients’ thinking interacts with how they feel and what they do.

CBT strategies seek to address thought patterns that contribute to developing harmful behavioral patterns like substance abuse. In CBT therapy sessions, patients learn to develop self-control, avoid triggers, and develop healthy coping strategies.

Family Therapy 

Family therapy addresses the patient’s family relationships and how they influence their substance use issues. In family therapy sessions, the therapist will address any family relationship patterns that support the patient’s recovery from addiction and suggest ways to act as a support system for the patient.

Family therapy is recognized as one of the most effective approaches for treating substance abuse.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy or counseling focuses on curbing illicit drug or alcohol use and also addresses other areas of the patient’s life such as work, relationships, and other stressors.

Individual therapy focuses on short-term behavioral goals and helps the patient develop coping strategies and tools to maintain abstinence. 

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a method of therapy where multiple individuals undergoing treatment for the same disorder receive therapy together, led by a licensed therapist or medical professional.

This type of therapy can be a powerful tool for treating substance abuse because humans are naturally social creatures who gravitate toward and learn from each other. 

Group therapy offers many rewarding benefits including:

  • Reducing isolation
  • Providing positive social support and pressure to remain abstinent
  • Offering healthy family-like experiences 

Enabling participants to witness the recovery of others

  • Enabling effective confrontations about substance abuse and other harmful behaviors

Group therapy can be extremely effective for patients undergoing treatment for drug or alcohol addiction because it provides opportunities to witness others successfully recovering from addiction.

Seeing others achieve success can give the patient a sense of hope that long-term abstinence is possible. 

Group therapy is proven to be just as effective as individual therapy, and sometimes more successful. Studies show that people who receive treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) in a group setting are more likely to remain abstinent and committed to recovery.

Art Therapy

Art therapy is a type of treatment where patients use creative expression to explore their psychology and emotions through their art.

Art therapy can include various activities like drawing, painting, journaling, or sculpting.

Studies of art therapy show several benefits for SUD patients including decreasing denial, reducing opposition to alcoholism treatment, providing an outlet for dialogue, and lessening shame. 

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Rehab Together

How To Choose a Rehab Program

There are several factors to consider when selecting a rehab program.

These include:

  • There are no one-size-fits-all solutions to rehab
  • Different programs work for different people
  • Individuals must commit enough time to overcome their addictions successfully
  • Addiction affects the way the brain functions
  • Quality treatment should address all aspects of the person's life, not just the addiction or drug abuse
  • Medicinal treatment is usually necessary and should be used with therapy
  • Treatment plans should consistently be tailored to meet the individual’s needs and circumstances
  • Mental disorders are typically linked to drug addiction and should be considered during treatment

Rehab FAQs

What is the process to get into rehab?

The process of getting into rehab begins with the completion of a screening that may or may not be completed by a physician. A Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a screening method conducted by a primary doctor who quickly assesses the severity of substance abuse and identifies the appropriate treatment level for the patient. 

Some rehabs require a primary doctor’s referral to enter treatment, but many do not. You may also contact the rehab directly to apply for admission and have a screening administered.

After the screening process is complete, there will be a discussion of financing and insurance to confirm how the patient will be paying for treatment.

After that, patients will complete an intake process including medical and mental health assessments in order to provide customized care. 

What are the stages of rehab?

The four stages of rehab include: 

  1. Initiation — The patient is evaluated, stabilized, and carefully weaned off any substances while managing withdrawal symptoms 
  2. Early abstinence —  The patient begins to live without substances while managing cravings and other emotional issues that arise 
  3. Maintenance of abstinence —  The patient maintains their new lifestyle and practices vigilance against relapse 
  4. Advanced recovery — The patient uses the techniques they learned in therapy to maintain sober living

What happens when you get out of rehab?

After completing a rehabilitation program, a recovered addict will return to their normal life.

The main goal will be maintaining their sobriety and preventing relapse. Maintaining sobriety can be a challenge for recovered addicts even after successfully completing a rehab program. A study found that 40 to 60 percent of people who have been treated for addiction or alcoholism relapse within a year.

Clinicians recommend patients who have completed rehabilitation the following in order to maintain their sobriety and decrease the likelihood of relapse:

  • Join a support group
  • Attend 12 step meetings
  • Surround themselves with positive people
  • Be mindful of triggers 
  • Learn and practice coping techniques
  • Reach out for help to avoid a relapse 

Many rehabs also offer alumni programs for graduates that offer long-term accountability and social support. 

What is the purpose of rehab?

The primary goal of rehab is to stop substance abuse and to help people return to being functioning members of their families, workplaces, and communities.

Studies show that those who get into and remain in treatment tend to stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their work, social, and psychological functioning.

Is rehab considered health care?

Substance use disorder (SUD), which includes alcoholism, is recognized as a mental health disorder. Therefore, treatment for SUD is considered healthcare treatment.

Health insurers and group health plans are required by law to provide the same level of benefits for mental and/or substance use treatment and services that they do for medical and surgical care.

How expensive is rehab?

The cost of addiction rehab depends on the patient’s health insurance policy, location, type of treatment, and whether or not they qualify for financial assistance. 

The average costs of rehab range from $1,132 to $11,260 per patient. 

A doctor’s referral is not required to have rehab covered by insurance; the rehab center professionals may also provide the referral. 

For people with financial hardships, some rehab facilities also offer financial arrangements such as loans, sliding scales, or scholarships for patients who need financial assistance.

People with lower incomes who are unable to afford health insurance on their own may qualify for a government subsidy to pay for their treatment.

There are also government-funded services that assist those without the financial means to attend a private rehab. These government services range from detox to outpatient or residential programs.

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Updated on February 6, 2024
15 sources cited
Updated on February 6, 2024
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