What To Expect From Rehab

What To Expect From Rehab

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

What to Expect from Rehab

As with any substantial life-altering step, entering rehabilitation can be a daunting experience. Quite often, people who have substance abuse issues will delay getting the treatment they need because of their fear of rehab. As with most things that are unfamiliar, the fear is rooting in not knowing what will happen. Therefore, it will help to better understand what rehab treatment is about so you can be best prepared for the experience.

Getting Started in Rehab

If you are entering a 30, 60, or 90-day program, the first step is the checking in process. This will usually consist of a staff member taking down your information. The information gathered will help in guiding the treatment you receive.

In most cases, the 90-day treatment program is recommended. This is because the longer you stay away from the temptation of alcohol or drugs, the better able you can overcome your addiction. Time is an essential element in the treatment process.

What to expect from Rehab: Detoxification

Once you have been checked in an assigned a room, the next step is for your body to detoxify from the substance or substances. This can be a difficult process for many depending on how long their addiction has lasted. But it is a necessary step for the rest of the mental and physical aspect of the rehabilitation process to begin1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1976118/.

Keep in mind that if you are suffering from withdrawal symptoms, medication may be prescribed. This will help you get to the next step once your body has been detoxified.

What to expect from Rehab: Therapies

There are different types of therapies available. This is normally assigned by the physician in charge who has reviewed your information. The goal of the therapy is to help you avoid relapsing into substance abuse once again. This way, you can remain clean for the rest of your life. However, keep in mind that many who have successfully overcome their addiction will relapse at least once, if not more often in their lifetime.

How the Therapy in Rehab Works

A health professional will be assigned to work with you on overcoming your addiction. This will consist of a series of sessions where the following will occur.

  • An honest look at who you are and where you are at
  • The effect the addiction has had on you
  • How the addiction has affected your mindset and more


These sessions are often blunt and direct. The goal is to break through your personal defenses and get you to honestly look at what the addiction has caused. But even more importantly, the therapist will strive to identify the triggers of your addiction and help you to either deal with them or avoid them altogether.

The therapy process is one of breaking down your addiction in an honest fashion. Identifying what triggers you to take the substance. And then educating you to combat the triggers in the most effective manner possible. Although there are different types of therapies, behavioral therapy is the most effective. This type of therapy falls into two categories, motivational and cognitive behavioral.

What to expect from Rehab: Families

Perhaps the hardest part of the entire rehabilitation process is the inclusion of family and friends. As embarrassing as it may be, it is a vital part of the process for the substance abuser. It demonstrates the effect of their addiction on those they love. It lets those who love you say in an honest manner what your behavior has done to them.

Not only does this provide a new perspective for substance abusers it also creates a support program within the family that can be pursued at home. Those involved will also learn how to support you once you leave the rehab facility. In that manner, many of the issues that triggered your addiction before can be identified and even avoided before you fall into the same habits again.

While different people have different triggers, it is usually an emotional reaction to stress which may be caused by any number of sources. When people are put under pressure, looking for an escape is a popular choice. For many, the substances that they are addicted to represent a form of escape which makes it that much harder to quit.

That is why so many fail the rehabilitation process on their first try. They don’t know what to expect from rehab and have unrealistic expectations that someone else is going to fix them, much like a doctor in an Emergency Room. You will need to exert some patience in realizing that you may slip or regress, but you should never give up if you want to overcome your addiction.

Continuing Care from Rehab

Just because you have completed the program and exited the facility does not mean your treatment is over. An aftercare or continuing care plan will help significant raise the odds that you successfully overcome your addiction2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1852519/.

This type of program provides complete medical and social support services to help you transition back to your normal life. This may include a halfway house, such a sober living home, counseling, follow-up therapy, support groups, and other programs designed to keep you from falling back into your old ways.

Although you may overcome your addiction, the continuing care process may last for the rest of your life. While different people react in different ways, for most who suffer from an addiction even the passage of time may not be enough to put it behind them. Having family and friends who support your decision and help you through the temptations can be most invaluable.

Admittedly, the rehabilitation process can be a frightening one for those who do not want to face their addiction and the ramifications of their decisions. The worst part is often not what the addiction has done to you, but what it has done to those who care about you. Having to face that can be quite humiliating and filled with pain. But it must be faced if you hope to overcome your addiction and get back to a normal life.

While learning about the rehabilitation process may not make you feel any more comfortable, at least you know what to expect from rehab. Understanding how the treatment process works, the different therapies involved, and what the ultimate goal will be can help bring some peace of mind before you decide to enter the process.

References: What to expect from rehab

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous . Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women have Recovered from Alcoholism. 3rd Ed. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.; NY: 19391976. []
  2. Caldwell PE, Cutter HSG. Alcoholics Anonymous affliction during early recovery. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 1998;15(1):221–28. []
  3. El-Bassel N, Duan-Rung C, Cooper D. Social support and social network profiles among women in methadone. Social Service Review. 1998;379:401. []
  4. Fiorentine R, Hillhouse M. What to expect from Drug treatment and 12-step program participation: The additive effects of integrated recovery activities. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2000a;18(1):65–74. []
  5. Hall SM, Havassy BE, Wasserman DA. Effects of commitment to abstinence, positive moods, and coping on cocaine use. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1991;59:526–532. []
  6. Humphreys K, Mavis BE, Stöffelmayr BE. Are twelve-step programs appropriate for disenfranchised groups? Evidence from a study of posttreatment mutual help group Involvement. Prevention in Human Services. 1994;11:165–180. []
  7. Leshner A1. Addiction is a brain disease, and it matters. Science. 1997;2 78:45–47. [PubMed]
  8. Montgomery HA, Miller WR, Tonigan JS. What to expect from Rehab? Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 1995;12(4):241–246. [PubMed] []
  9. Taylor SE, Aspinwall LG, Kaplan HB. Psychosocial Stress. Academic Press; New York: 1996. Mediating and Moderating Processes in Psychosocial Stress; pp. 71–110. []
  10. Vaillant GE. The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited. Harvard University Press; Cambridge, MA: 19831995. []
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