What Does Rehab Entail?
Drug Rehabilitation, or drug rehab, can be used to help a person recover from addictions, injuries, and even physical or mental illnesses. However, drug rehab programs are often what come to mind when thinking of the word “rehab” itself. People addicted to drugs often need the additional care and assistance that drug rehab provides.
What Is Drug Rehab?
The Facts About Drug Rehab
Drug rehab facilities help people to recover from substance use disorders. There are many different types of drug rehab facilities. Some specialize in helping patients with a specific drug addiction; others offer a broader range of drug addiction services. Some rehab facilities are even gender- or age-specific, as this often helps patients feel more comfortable in the rehab setting. Inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities are also available.
Some people hold the misconception that patients in drug rehab treatment are forced to stay. However, this is untrue. Patients in rehab centers are free to leave anytime they choose to. One reason for this is that drug rehab can only be truly effective when the patient has a desire to be there and to change his or her addictive habits. That being said, in instances where individuals are compelled to go to rehab—such as via a court order—the rehab process can still be effective, even if they were initially reluctant to go.
Drug rehab centers range from very basic facilities to luxury treatment centers. The type of center a patient attends depends upon his or her budget and level of insurance coverage. While luxury centers offer more amenities than basic facilities, they are not always the best treatment centers. Patients should investigate a rehab facility before making a final decision.
Before entering a rehab facility, patients may have to undergo detox treatment. Detox is the process in which a patient rids his or her body of the addictive substance. From start to finish, this process varies in length, but often takes about a week. As part of a medical detox program, recovering patients will be monitored by doctors and nurses and given medications to manage withdrawal, when appropriate. Once a patient completes detox, he or she is ready for rehab.
What is it Like?
Before commencing with treatment, you will undergo an intake evaluation from an addiction counselor or mental health professional. This assessment will take into account self-reports of substance abuse, medical records, urine screening, blood testing, and more. The person will gather as much information as possible regarding:1
- Patterns of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Medical history.
- Mental status.
- Physical problems or conditions.
- Vital signs, such as blood pressure.
- Past detox or rehab experiences.
- Living conditions, financial situation, and legal status.
- Violence or suicide risk.
- Cognitive, sensory, or physical disabilities.
The person conducting the evaluation will use this information to help create an individualized treatment plan tailored to suit your needs. This treatment plan may involve:2
- Individual therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management.
- Group counseling.
- Peer support meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
- Family therapy sessions.
- Additional services or activities, such as yoga, exercise and nutritional counseling, meditation and mindfulness, acupuncture, or spa treatment.
- Medication management, if applicable.
- Relapse prevention education.
- Aftercare planning.
Individual therapy will help you learn to recognize triggers and cope with them. The therapists may also help you to improve your emotional regulation skills in order to better avoid relapse. Group counseling provides you with the opportunity to practice sober social skills, as well as the coping strategies you learned in individual counseling. Family therapy sessions can help to repair broken relationships, improve communication skills, and build conflict resolution skills. Medication, such as methadone or Suboxone, may be used in combination with behavioral therapy to help opioid-addicted individuals remain abstinent. Once your rehab program nears an end, your treatment team will create an aftercare or relapse prevention plan for you consisting of ongoing support. Ongoing support may include individual therapy, group counseling, self-help group meetings (e.g., 12-step, SMART Recovery), alumni programs, or sober living homes.1,2
What to Look for in a Drug Rehab Treatment Center
You’ll want to be thorough while searching for the substance abuse treatment program that is right for you. Not all rehabs are equal, so it’s important that you know what you’re looking for. Not everyone will benefit from the same type of rehab so some priorities may depend on the individual’s preferences, but some standard things to look for include:
- Treatment program accreditations and certifications.
- Appropriate education, experience, and certifications for staff members.
- Individualized treatment plans.
- Ongoing re-evaluations of treatment plans.
- Aftercare/relapse prevention planning.
- Evidence-based therapeutic interventions.
- Experience in treating your specific addiction.
- Experience in treating addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, if necessary.
- Empathetic, nonjudgmental, compassionate staff members.
- Staff trained in cultural sensitivity.
Depending on your treatment priorities, you may also want to consider a facility that shares your philosophy. For instance, some people prefer faith-based rehabs if their religion is important to them. Others may choose to enroll in a holistic treatment center that utilizes alternative and complementary practices, such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga. Regardless of the treatment program you choose, it’s important to confirm that it possesses the above-mentioned qualities.
Committing to Recovery
Doctors and counselors in rehab centers help patients make goals for themselves. Patients commit to themselves and their loved ones that they will strive to make a positive change in their lives. They make long-term goals and then short-term goals that help them along the way.
To help patients overcome denial and make healthy choices and commitments, doctors educate them on the consequences and effects of drug abuse and addiction. Patients learn about the effects that the drugs have on their bodies in the hopes that they will be more motivated to make a change.
Drug rehab treatment centers offer frequent individual counseling to patients. These counseling sessions sometimes even take place on a daily basis. Counselors help patients discover any emotional or psychological factors that may have contributed to their addictions. It is important that these psychological factors are addressed if a patient is to make a full recovery.
In addition to individual counseling, patients in rehab often participate in group therapy. Patients with similar addictions meet together under the direction of a counselor. This allows them to form friendships and to have fellowship with one another. These close personal bonds aid patients on their road to recovery.
Patients in drug rehab learn to recognize situations that may trigger drug abuse. These triggers could be emotional, physical, part of relationships, or simply part of their normal routines. Counselors and doctors help patients learn how to combat those triggers and get out of circumstances that may lead them to abuse drugs.
Once patients learn to recognize drug abuse triggers, they learn the skills needed to cope with them. Counselors and doctors in drug rehab treatment facilities work with each patient to come up with a personalized set of coping skills that the patient can use to prevent him or her from turning to drugs.
Counselors also help rehab patients change their negative habits that are related to their addictions. This could include changing leisure activities or even changing aspects of an individual’s career or everyday life. The goal is to reduce the amount of stress and triggers in the patient’s life to keep him or her from relapsing.
Program preferences before and after treatment
Medication in Drug Rehab
Medications are used for 2 different reasons—to manage acute withdrawal symptoms and cravings and to maintain abstinence once withdrawal has resolved. Some treatment programs offer medical detox as a part of their services, while others require that you complete detox prior to entering their program. In some instances, once you achieve medical stability and are drug-free, you may begin a regimen of maintenance medications. Only certain addictions can be treated with medication. These include opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers, and alcohol. The commonly-used medications include:1,2,3
- Methadone: A full opioid agonist that reduces heroin and prescription painkiller cravings and helps to promote long-term sobriety.
- Suboxone: A combination medication that includes buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist) and naloxone (an opioid antagonist). This medication also reduces cravings associated with opioids. The addition of naloxone deters abuse of buprenorphine.
- Naltrexone: This medication blocks the effects of opioids in the brain, negating the rewarding and pleasurable feelings associated with opioid abuse. This helps to deter opioid use. Naltrexone can also be used to treat alcohol dependence.
- Acamprosate: This medication is thought to reduce protracted or post-acute withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol dependence, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or restlessness.
- Disulfiram: This medication causes you to experience extremely unpleasant symptoms, such as nausea and heart palpitations, if you consume alcohol while taking the medication.
Medications are most effective if they are combined with behavioral therapy to create a whole-person, comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. This combination is referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Life Changes in Addiction Rehab
Patients in drug rehab treatment programs are encouraged to end toxic relationships. Toxic relationships are those that have the propensity to lead to drug abuse. Conversely, patients are encouraged to seek help from other people who can support them on their journey. These supportive relationships could include friends, family members, and even other rehab patients.
Family members of rehab patients can seek drug rehab information by talking to the counselors and doctors at the facility. Friends and family members can help and support patients by learning about drug addiction. They may do this by participating in counseling sessions with the patient. Counselors in rehab facilities can also teach family members and friends of patients how they can help. They can learn about the coping skills that the patients are learning, the different drug abuse triggers, and the best ways to show love and support.
Often, drug addictions negatively affect the friends and family of those in recovery.-Rehabs.com
Often, drug addictions negatively affect friends and family. In this case, drug rehab treatment centers can offer counseling and healing services to friends and family of those in recovery. Loved ones can help a patient best once they have sought healing for themselves.
Many drug rehabs have 28-day program options, but your recommended treatment length could be several months. The length of time a patient spends in the rehab facility depends on his or her healing progress. Doctors and counselors may suggest an early release for the patient, or they may request that the patient stay in rehab longer than expected.
Many rehab patients continue to receive treatment for their addictions after leaving rehab. They may have regular clinic visits with a doctor to manage physical symptoms. Patients may also meet with a counselor on a regular, outpatient basis to refine coping skills. In addition to the love and support of family and friends, patients may also attend support group meetings after leaving a drug rehab treatment facility. All of these aftercare services help patients remain drug free and avoid relapse.
1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment: A Treatment Improvement Protocol, Tip 45.
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-based Guide.
3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Alcohol Addiction.