If you’re thinking about going to admitting to a drug rehab facility and have never been before, of course, you have a multitude of questions. Facing any new experience can be scary, and especially, if that new experience presents a permanent life change. We’ve put together a list of some of the most important things to know about drug and alcohol treatment centers and what to expect while there, to help you better familiarize with the concept.
No Two Treatment Centers are the Same
While there a number of aspects of drug and alcohol rehab that are typical, no two drug and alcohol treatment centers are the same. For example, some treatment centers are harm-reductive (allow monitored use of less harmful substance) while others are abstinence-focused (do not allow substances of any kind). Some rehab facilities are 1-2 weeks long, while others can last months. Knowing that there can be a vast difference in the offerings can help in doing your research to find out what types of centers might be best for your personal needs.
There is a Leave-At-Will Policy
No one will ever make you stay to get treatment; it’s not jail. Patients can leave at any point during treatment. Of course, that’s not recommended if you intend on getting sober and staying sober, but if you aren’t completely ready for the full treatment–no one will stop you from leaving.
Detox and Withdrawal
Some drug and alcohol treatment centers have on-site medical detox services, in which you will be medically-monitored while you go through a bodily withdrawal from the drug you are addicted to. Other facilities will recommend detox if needed, to nearby centers and hospitals that have the medical resources to facilitate a managed detox. Note: Not all clients are required to detox under medical supervision, however, in some cases, depending on the level of use and/or specific substance, monitored detox is required to avoid potential fatal consequences. You should consult with rehab staff to determine if medically-supervised detox is right for you, prior to beginning inpatient drug rehab.
Treatment Approach Can Vary Greatly
Depending on what kind of drug rehab you choose for your addiction, you will find that some programs are mostly clinical (individual and group therapy), 12-Step-based (ground in principles of AA’s 12-Step program), or a combination of these two. There are different schools of thought in addiction treatment, and the types of drug and alcohol treatment centers available are evidence to this.
For clinical-based programs, you will typically find a structured environment individual and group therapy sessions focused on determining the underlying causes and triggers of substance abuse, while also reconciling with the negative effects of use. Through behavioral therapy sessions with psychiatric professionals (as well as through group therapy), patients learn how to process underlying causes differently, and respond soberly to triggers. The most common of psychotherapies used in drug and alcohol treatment centers are:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Grief and loss therapy
- Trauma/PTSD therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
12-Step programs can approach addiction in a slightly different way. Using the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, treatment centers structure classes and group therapy (non-clinical) around “working the steps” to understand addiction and resolve the triggers or “compulsion” that drives substance abuse. Patients are asked to really explore who they are, their addiction, why they use, and what has resulted in their lives because of addiction. With this soul-searching and self-awareness, they are able to make amends with addiction as a disease and find a life of purpose without drugs or alcohol.
Integrated 12 Steps and Clinical
As one might guess, drug and alcohol treatment centers that use both approaches together are integrated. The integrated approach is hugely successful for many because it offers the actionable plan of the 12 Steps, but backs it up with some solid psychotherapeutic sessions where patients can explore the root and results of their painful addiction.
It Will Be Hard Work
Beyond the detox and withdrawal period, a stay at an effective drug rehab facility will not be a vacation. Sure, it will be supportive and therapeutic, but in therapy and workshops, it’s going to force the patient to explore some potential trauma, baggage, and things they may not be proud of. It will be extremely hard. But if followed and worked at, life-changing.
You’ll Build Lasting Friendships
When people seek recovery, it’s often because they can’t live the way they are living anymore–a life of alienation, shame, and physical sickness. In rehab, you meet so many people with the same disease, a lot of the same stories, the same regrets. You work through your addiction together, and support each other through some of your hardest moments. Often, people come out of treatment with some of the best and lasting friendships they’ve ever had. Centers that use the 12-Step curriculum especially have this kind of alumni community support, and it’s lifelong.
There Will Be Follow-Up Care
Unfortunately, most patients will not gain lifelong sobriety after residential rehab treatment. A habit, an addiction needs time and nurturing to change. This is why many drug and alcohol treatment centers often recommend follow-up care to avoid the potential for relapse. This can come in the form of the following:
- Sober Houses
- Extended Care/Rehab Aftercare
- Intensive Outpatient Programs
While these are options for someone in early recovery (first three months, typically), they are recommended differently, based on where you go. While most treatment facilities will agree that a patient should admit to follow-up treatment, they often don’t agree to what the process should look like. These are the most popular courses of follow-up care after primary treatment:
- Inpatient rehab to sober house
- Inpatient rehab to IOP
- Inpatient to extended care to sober house to IOP
Statistics show that the more support, resources, and time patients have to focus on recovery in the first year, the better chances of lasting sobriety.