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Updated on September 27, 2022
7 min read

Should I Go to Rehab?

7 Signs You Need To Go To Rehab

Rehab offers an opportunity to detoxify from drug or alcohol addiction and learn the tools needed to avoid relapse. Medical specialists oversee most treatment programs. They allow a person to remove themselves from temptation and focus on recovery.

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their challenges, which leads to a new challenge - addiction.

Addiction clouds a person's view of their problems. It can be difficult to determine if or when rehab is necessary.

Often, knowing when to seek professional help requires input from friends or family.

There are a few telltale ways to know if rehab is the next logical step in recovery.

Signs you or a loved one needs to go to rehab:

  1. You are using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate a mental health condition.
  2. You struggle with withdrawal symptoms when you stop using drugs or alcohol.
  3. You suffer health problems that are linked to substance use.
  4. Your priority is using the substance of your choice, causing your relationships and job to suffer.
  5. You have a preoccupation with using drugs or alcohol.
  6. You’ve developed a lack of interest and/or motivation for working, attending school, and spending time with family and friends.
  7. You’ve stolen money or committed other crimes to obtain drugs or alcohol.

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DSM Criteria for Addiction

Not everyone has the self-awareness to go to rehab voluntarily. Most people with substance abuse problems cannot see that they have a problem (or maybe they’re in denial). 

Identifying addiction is the same as diagnosing any other form of illness. The patient is assessed for signs and symptoms, meeting a specific set of criteria indicative of a health condition. 

The American Psychiatric Association has outlined criteria for addiction. It is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Health professionals use this to identify and categorize the severity of a substance use disorder.

These include:

  • Lack of Control
  • Inability to cut back on use despite wanting to do so
  • Spending a considerable amount of time trying to acquire the substance
  • Having unusual cravings for the drug
  • Neglect of responsibilities at school, work, or home
  • Strained relationships with family and friends because of substance abuse
  • Loss of interest in activities that the person once found enjoyable
  • Continued use despite the worsening situation
  • Developing tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Rehab is an important first step for many people who are looking to recover from substance abuse. However, many people diagnosed with substance use disorder avoid it. They’d rather work on their recovery alone.

The truth is, it’s very difficult for people to disentangle themselves from addiction without help.

When to Get Treatment

Determining when to go to rehab is confusing. The right time for rehab can vary from person to person. Some people need rehab because they are becoming a danger to themselves or society; others need rehab because their family said so.

Chances are, if you or a loved one have considered treatment, that's a signal addiction is causing problems in your life.

Signs that it's time to seek treatment include:

  • Meeting three or more of the DSM criteria for addiction
  • Constant health problems
  • Money troubles
  • Family or friends expressing concern

Rehab doesn’t come with a list of required obligations before attending. Programs don’t require people to have had an addiction for a set number of weeks or months, or years. There’s no need to “hit rock bottom” before you are accepted into rehab.

Certain programs have criteria that must be met to be eligible for care, but in general, there is no single thing that automatically qualifies or eliminates you from consideration.

Anyone who believes they have an addiction can seek treatment. What that treatment entails is determined by an intake evaluation.

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Addiction Treatment Options

Several options exist for alcohol rehab and drug rehab. For example:

Counseling and Behavior Therapies 

Counseling and behavior therapy is effective in treating substance abuse. It also provides someone with life skills and support that promote long-term abstinence. There are many different therapeutic approaches, including:

Self-Help Groups and 12-Step Programs

These programs bring together people struggling with similar issues. They provide education, information, and a community environment. Some of the most popular examples of self-help and 12-step programs include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Prescription pharmaceuticals are effective tools during rehab and recovery. Medication is also effective in treating co-occurring disorders. Medication varies based on the substance in question, but some of the most popular medications used in rehab include:

Common medications used to help treat alcoholism (alcohol use disorder):

  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Common medications used to help treat drug addiction (opioid use disorder):

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone

Rehabilitation Programs (Rehab)

These programs provide an environment that supports recovery and long-term abstinence. Program options include:

What to Expect from Rehab

Going to rehab can be overwhelming. It is normal to feel nervous or scared. It helps to come in ready, equipped with the proper knowledge of what to expect from rehab.

Here are some helpful tips that may help ease rehab-related anxiety:


When a person first enters rehab, they are given a thorough assessment of their background, history of alcohol and drug use, and other specific needs. During this stage, it helps to be honest, especially if there is an underlying mental illness or other condition. A customized substance abuse treatment plan will be created to suit the patient's needs.


As soon as the initial assessment phase is done, the patient will undergo detoxification.

This is the process of removing toxic substances (alcohol or drugs) from the body. It cleanses the body and mentally prepares the patient for rehab. The side effects and withdrawal symptoms during detox vary from person to person.


During the rehab program, the patient may experience withdrawal symptoms. Rehab staff are trained to help patients cope with the symptoms safely and efficiently.

Methods used may include medications, counseling, meditation, and hypnosis.

Therapy Programs

The patient is expected to participate in the treatment program planned by the rehab center. Every rehab center has its own programs which may include individual therapy, family counseling, and many more. 


Because addiction is a chronic disease, there is no overnight treatment for it. Drug and alcohol rehab usually lasts 30, 60, or 90 days. By the end of rehab, an aftercare plan is discussed with the patient for continuing care.

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Rehab FAQs

How does detox help overcome addiction?

Detoxification is normally the first step in addiction treatment. It describes the process of clearing a substance from the body and becoming sober.

Most detox regimens require hours or days, but there might be lingering effects after a week or more.

Can I go to rehab without insurance?

Yes. However, you’ll need to seek subsidized support for treatment. This is usually available through your state’s Medicaid program.

Depending on your circumstances and location, there might be other financial support available as well.

Should you hold an intervention?

It’s impossible to know for sure whether an intervention is a good idea without knowing the specific details of a situation.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, an intervention could be necessary. However, interventions are difficult for everyone involved, and everyone must agree that intervening is the right thing to do for the person before moving forward.

How can family members assist in a loved one's recovery?

There are many ways for family and friends to help an addict. Being informed about addiction, recovery, and related medical issues are all important things that will help your loved one.

If you care about someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, learn about addiction, co-occurring conditions, and the various treatment options available.

Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
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Updated on September 27, 2022
6 sources cited
Updated on September 27, 2022
  1. What Is Drug Addiction Treatment?” National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018.
  3. Boroumandfar, Z., Kianpour, M. & Afshari, M. "Ups and downs of drug rehab among women: a qualitative study." BMC Women's Health 20, 77 .
  4. "Chapter 5—Specialized Substance Abuse Treatment Programs." A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 1997. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 24.)
  5. NADK. "What are the diagnostic criteria for alcohol-related mental health disorders?" National Alcohol & Drug Knowledgebase, The National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction.
  6. De Bruijin, Carla et al. "Alcohol Abuse and Dependence Criteria as Predictors of a Chronic Course of Alcohol Use Disorders in the General Population." Alcohol and Alcoholism, Volume 40, Issue 5, September/October 2005.

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