It’s important to know that there are quite a few different types of treatment centers that will change your individual experience during the rehab process. Overall, there are three basic decisions you need to make when choosing a rehab center.
The first decision that you need to make involves the level of care and intensity of the program, as well as the cost and time commitment.
Next, you will need to decide what length of rehabilitation program is right for you:
The third and final choice involves whether to choose a “specialized rehab” that caters to certain demographics, those with unique challenges, or those that prefer certain types of treatment options.
Here’s a quick rundown of the various options:
Regardless of the type of rehab program you choose, there will generally be four distinct phases of the rehabilitation process. They may look somewhat different or be split up into different facilities depending on the options (shown above) that you choose.
Assessments are an important first step for anyone considering rehabilitation because they:
For inpatient facilities, the assessment phase is the “intake process,” which serves to transition the patient in from the outside world and to build a treatment plan specifically designed for the individual.
Throughout this process, the treatment center or medical facility is evaluating whether you are a good fit for the program, and you should be evaluating whether the facility is a good fit for you. Sometimes, an individual is referred to another facility (such as a hospital) if it’s determined that the treatment center isn’t equipped to handle the unique challenges of the patient in question.
Those pursuing outpatient treatment may opt to get a standalone assessment. The assessment process for outpatient facilities tends to focus on determining the nature and severity of the addiction, and on developing a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs. The “intake portion” of the assessment process may not be needed for these types of assessments.
While most treatment centers will work through all (or most) of the steps listed below, keep in mind that some work through them in a different order. The assessment process can take as little as 30 minutes or as long as a few hours depending on the individual’s unique situation and the treatment center’s policies.
You may have to complete some or all of these steps multiple times if you don’t enroll in a full-service treatment center. An example of this might be someone who detoxes at a hospital and then goes to treatment at a separate facility.
Note: For those considering a standalone assessment, some of the steps in the assessment process below may not be necessary.
Whether you drop in, call ahead, or correspond via email, the assessment process starts as soon as you contact the treatment center. At that point, they will begin to collect your basic personal information, such as name, date-of-birth, and the like.
Depending on the institution, this is usually one of the first steps in the assessment process. The goal is to verify that you can afford the treatment or that you have insurance that will cover all or some of the services. If not, some treatment centers may offer payment plans, or they may be able to help you find payment assistance.
The cost of substance abuse treatment can be one of the biggest obstacles to overcoming addiction, but there are many ways to find free or low-cost care. For more information, read our guide on The Cost of Rehab.
Many treatment centers will want access to your complete medical history, while others may simply have you fill out several forms. They will specifically want to know if you have any diagnosed medical conditions or diagnosed mental health problems. The primary reason for these questions is to ensure your safety (especially during detox).
Medical conditions and mental health problems can be a large part of the underlying cause of addiction, so centers that will also be providing treatment (not just detox) will use this information to build your treatment plan.
Some treatment centers require incoming patients to complete a drug and alcohol test to verify which substances are present, and whether the individual needs to be sent to detox, or if they can go right to treatment. This step can vary from facility to facility.
Note: It’s universally recommended that individuals be open and honest about their addiction severity and usage habits. Some patients may be tempted to downplay or lie about their addiction habits due to shame or embarrassment. It’s crucial to obtain an accurate picture of each person’s addiction and usage habits so that the right treatment plan can be developed.
|The goal of assessment is to establish a treatment plan based on:|
Detox usually takes 3-7 days to complete, but extreme cases could require multiple weeks. When abusing substances, your body builds a physical dependence on them, and that dependence is removed by flushing out all the chemicals associated with the substance from your body.
The first decision you will have to make is to decide if you will seek professional help, or attempt to detox on your own if you opt for outpatient treatment. Detoxing on your own can be very dangerous for those with severe addiction or medical complications. If you don’t seek professional help, you could risk serious medical consequences, even including death.
The main advantage of detoxing in a professional environment is that withdrawal symptoms (both physical and emotional) are managed. Depending on the length and severity of your substance usage, withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe. A professional treatment center will monitor your mental and physical well-being, and take appropriate action to ensure your safety.
The next decision you will need to make is whether to rehab in a stand-alone facility (such as a hospital) or a full-service treatment center. While there are quite a few other factors that go into choosing the right place to detox, the transition from detox to treatment may be smoother at a full-service facility.
While the care you receive at any facility should always be focusing on providing safe detoxification, choosing a rehab center that utilizes medication to ease the body’s transition from dependence on drugs or alcohol can go a long way to making your detox experience easier.
For more information, read our guide on “Alcohol and Drug Detox Centers”
|The goal of detox is to eliminate your body’s physical dependence on substances by:|
As the term “residential” implies, inpatient programs require you to put all of your other obligations on hold (including family, work, and friends). You will be eating, sleeping, and spending your waking hours at the rehab facility. This allows you to focus on rehabilitation full-time, and it reduces or eliminates the chance of relapse during rehab.
If you choose an outpatient program, you will be attending therapy 4-6 hours per day, 3-5 days per week during this phase of treatment. The cost of outpatient programs tends to be lower, and you don’t have to completely abandon your family, friends, and job responsibilities. However, the chance of relapse during treatment is greater since you may be exposed to stress and triggers in your former environments that contribute to your cycle of addiction.
The overall time it can take to complete this step in the rehabilitation process depends on the length of the program you signed up for. Studies show that, for those with medium to severe addiction problems, the longer you spend in rehab, the better chance of a favorable outcome. Keep in mind that shorter programs tend to be more intensive, as they have to consolidate more treatment into a shorter timeframe. Longer programs allow for a more relaxed schedule and gradual approach. The typical lengths available are:
Once patients’ bodies are free from their physical dependence on substances, the work can begin to free them from their mental and emotional dependence on the substances. Additionally, skills and behaviors are taught that help recovering addicts avoid “triggers” that can cause a relapse. Triggers are circumstances or challenges that make the addict want to return to substance abuse. The underlying causes of addiction and triggers can include things like:
There are many different therapies that are used by different treatment centers, and some are more common in outpatient settings or residential inpatient settings. Additionally, there is some overlap between different types of therapy.
One-on-one therapy is designed to help you work through your issues and problems in an intimate setting with a trained counselor, while group therapy allows you to build healthy relationships with other addicts and increases your communication skills. Additionally, some programs include alternative forms of treatment like massages and team-building activities.
Psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between you and the therapist to change the thought and behavior patterns that contribute to your addiction. During this process, past issues and current challenges that may be contributing to your addiction are addressed. While you will spend a good deal of time talking in a non-judgemental, open environment, there will also be tasks and projects that may be introduced.
While there are a plethora of treatment options that are used in this phase, there are well-researched, evidence-based approaches that have been shown to be effective in helping people overcome addiction. Here are some of the most widely used types of treatment that have been shown to be effective:
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 39% of all those with a substance abuse disorder also have a mental health disorder. Those facing this challenge need to undergo unique therapies specifically designed for their mental health disorder, in addition to therapy designed to overcome substance addictions. There are certain rehab facilities that specialize in treating those with co-occurring disorders.
For more information, read our guide on “Dual Diagnosis Rehabs”
|The goal of therapy is:|
The last step of the rehabilitation process has a dual focus – to build on the progress made in overcoming addiction during treatment, and to prevent relapses. Depending on the length and severity of your addiction, you may need to continue in aftercare for a year, several years, or even for the rest of your life. However, the intensity of the aftercare programs you participate in may gradually decrease as you become increasingly skilled at recognizing and avoiding triggers that lead to relapses.
Sober living homes (also referred to as recovery residences) are group homes that help recovering addicts transition from treatment facilities to living on their own, while maintaining sobriety. They are especially helpful for those who don’t have a supportive and positive environment to live in after rehab.
Residents can stay for a couple months of for years, as long as they follow the rules and don’t relapse (most homes have a zero tolerance policy for using substances). Other rules usually include completing chores, attending mutual support groups regularly, and paying an equal share of the cost of renting the home.
Some halfway houses are listed in our database, and you can find them by using the appropriate filter in our tool above. Otherwise, head to our guide on sober living homes to learn more about sober living homes, and to find a certified recovery residence near you.
Those who take the inpatient approach to rehab but can’t (or don’t want to) transition in a sober living home can participate in decreasingly intensive outpatient treatment. This aftercare option involves follow-up visits for continuing therapy. At first, visits are usually four to five days a week, then decreasing to several days a week, and finally subsiding to monthly checkups or stopping altogether. At that point, recovering addicts can transition to a cheaper, less-intensive form of aftercare.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are the two most popular types of 12-step programs, and they use the power of group dynamics to provide support and encourage addicts along in the recovery process. The 12-step process was originally designed for alcoholics, but has been adapted to include those struggling with drug addictions as well.
To find Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings near you, click on your state from the list below. From there you will be able to find the local organization that coordinates the meetings. They will be able to provide the most up-to-date information about the time and location of meetings, as well as the contact information for group leaders.
|The goal of aftercare is:|
If you or a loved one needs help, you can use our directory which includes a comprehensive list of available treatment centers and programs as provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In the directory, you will find tools to filter the programs by setting, payment options, and location.
For more questions about rehab, read our Rehab FAQ
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