What to expect when you are admitted to rehab

What to expect when you are admitted to rehab

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

What to expect when you are admitted to rehab


The rehab journey begins with being admitted into rehab so this is a good time to learn more about what happens inside rehab and how the rehab process works.


Accept the fact that rehab will be hard. As soon as you arrive, your rehab counselor is going to explain what you need to know about rehab. Don’t expect rehab to be a day at the spa – it’s not. You can expect roughly thirty to ninety days of intensive treatment, including individual and group therapy sessions, lectures about addiction and recovery, behavioral modification exercises like working out at the rehab gym, added support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other self-help programs for addicts or their families; educational classes; reading assignments; volunteer work; 12-step meetings; nutritional counseling; life skills training; managing stress better through breathing techniques and exercise; art therapy; relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation; and anything else your rehab facility offers to help you recover from addiction.


Remind yourself that being admitted to rehab is going to be a tough road, but one worth taking because it’s going to help you learn how to live a sober life.


This is the most important step in rehab: admit you have a problem with alcohol or drugs.


You have to really want this rehab experience, want sobriety that badly if you want it at all. It helps when people come into rehab earlier rather than later, when they are still motivated and determined enough to follow through on the rehab process. If people are sent away for drug rehab or alcohol rehab after being court-ordered there, chances are they will not do well simply because they are being forced to rehab. This is not the way to go about rehab.


Get to know your rehab counselor well


He or she will be with you every step of the way after being admitted to rehab, helping you transition into a sober lifestyle, teaching you all the skills that are necessary for recovery. You need to trust your rehab counselor completely if rehab is going to work at all. Believe in him or her, learn from them, and above all else allow yourself the ability to make mistakes along this detox journey. Just because it’s called addiction treatment does not mean you should expect perfectionism from yourself 100% of the time while in rehab; mistakes are okay as long as you learn something through them instead of making the same mistake again two days later.

Get to know everyone else who is admitted to rehab with you


You will be spending a lot of time with the rehab community, so make sure they are people you can trust, respect and enjoy being around. Spend time together in rehab groups, rehab meetings, rehab classes. Throughout rehab you will learn about each other’s strengths, weaknesses and life experiences. You may even fall in love or find new friends you never expected to meet when walking into rehab for the first time!


Understand that rehab involves emotional growth as well as learning about chemical dependency and how it works with your mind and body. The best rehab centers offer holistic treatment by including topics like stress management through relaxation techniques like yoga or meditation; exercise at the rehab gym to release endorphins and feel better about yourself; journaling or other writing exercises as a form of self-expression that may help you understand yourself better on a subconscious level; art therapy classes for people who are more creative than most rehab patients.


Be prepared to do rehab homework, be ready each day with the written work completed by your rehab counselor. He or she will often come up with messages or lectures for rehab study topics they want everyone in the rehab center to know about. Learn these messages not just because it’s necessary academically but also because it’s important you think about what is being said. If there are messages that inspire you, write them down so you can keep them with you during early rehab. You will need them when you leave rehab, if you have a relapse later on.


Understand the rehab process from start to finish so you can learn what rehab is going to offer and how it’s going to help you get clean or sober for good. Addiction treatment centers are designed not only to detox your body of alcohol or drugs but also transform your mind into a mindset that doesn’t crave drugs or alcohol anymore. It involves learning new techniques of coping with everyday stress, managing relationships with family members and friends better, getting back in touch with hobbies and activities, participating in rehab groups like 12-step meetings where people share their personal stories about living sober lives.


Include rehab homework tasks whenever possible because completing rehab homework and rehab assignments is a good way to ensure you use the rehab time wisely. Rehab counselors will often give rehab homework that requires people in rehab to write about what they’ve learned, draw pictures of their rehab experience, list all the positive things about rehab and list all the negative thoughts or feelings they’ve had since arriving at rehab. Some rehab centers recommend journaling daily during rehab treatment, writing down your hopes for after rehab or even listing out everything you are grateful for right now because it may help increase positive feelings inside yourself.


Expect some type of group activity activity most days of early rehab. These activities are often fun ways to break up each day inside addiction treatment but also serve as important learning moments where everyone rehabbing can share their rehab stories, learn topics like relapse prevention, coping skills for managing stress and cravings to use drugs or alcohol again.

Expect rehab treatment to be intense at times


You will receive more rehab therapy than you may have expected, especially during the first few days rehab center. Some rehab centers offer shock treatments for people who are seriously addicted to substances like heroin or prescription pills; rehabs also may recommend group meetings meetings where addicts try to help each other understand how it feels inside active addiction; more rehab therapy sessions with rehab counselors on staff; individual counseling sessions with your family doctor if or she is assigned as your personal rehab doctor; rehab services like rehab exercise classes, rehab meal programs and rehab massage therapy sessions.


Be prepared for rehab to take up a big chunk of your life during the first few days rehab center. Everyone in rehab is asked to make significant changes and go through a detox process that can be pretty rough on everybody involved. People who don’t complete the recommended amount of rehab time often leave rehab early because they don’t feel good about themselves when they start doing drugs or drinking alcohol again after leaving rehab. On the other hand, people who stay in treatment long enough not only regain sobriety but also discover things about themselves that help them improve their sobriety for years to come.


Here are some ways you can learn rehab lessons and skills to help you stay sober longer:


– Participate in rehab groups like 12-step meetings where people share their personal stories about living sober lives. They can be a great support system for you because you know others are going through the same struggles at rehab just like you are.


– Ensure rehab homework is completed each day so rehab counselors can see how much rehab work you have done on your own time. Don’t consider rehab homework as extra busywork but instead as something that can help build confidence inside yourself that will prepare for sobriety after rehab ends.


– Ask more questions about specific rehab services during early rehab so your family doctor can explain them more clearly before you are admitted to rehab, especially if there are rehab services or rehab choices you are not sure about or are unsure how rehab services might benefit your rehab stay.


– Don’t be afraid to ask rehab staff who work at rehab for assistance if you need any help with anything during rehab, especially the very first few days rehab center. Be open and honest about what you need so they can better rehab treatment plan for your rehab experience and also ensure you stay engaged in rehab activities.

References: What to Expect When You’re Admitted to Rehab

  • Sterling R, Slusher C, Weinstein S. Measuring recovery capital and determining its relationship to outcome in an alcohol dependent sample. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2008;34(5):603–10. [PubMed] []
  • Best D, Beckwith M, Haslam C, Haslam SA, Jetten J, Mawson E, et al. Overcoming alcohol and other drug addiction as a process of social identity transition: the social identity model of recovery (SIMOR) Addict Res Theory. 2016;24(2):111–23. []

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