The purpose of entering a drug rehabilitation program, or drug rehab, is pretty well known. No one goes there for a vacation. But what exactly happens at drug rehab, and just how effective is it?
Many people, at some point in their lives, will experiment with some type of drug or alcohol. For most people, it stops there. For others, though, especially those who are predisposed to addition, it can become a habit that is difficult, if not impossible, to break. Some people choose to admit themselves to drug rehab, and some are required to go by court order. Regardless of why a person ends up in rehab, the goal is the same – recovery.
There are a few different types of drug rehab, and where a person ends up will depend on the type of drugs used, the amount of time they’ve been using them, and how serious the addiction has become. Before entering any type of drug rehab program, an assessment is done by a trained clinician or counselor. The results of that assessment, or interview, will dictate where a person should go for treatment.
The first stop for many people entering drug rehab is detox. This is usually a medically-monitored, very short-term (24-72 hours) inpatient facility designed to wean the body off of any drugs in the system. For most people, this is unnecessary, as detoxing doesn’t always require medical intervention. In some cases, however, it does. For example, detoxing from long-term, heavy alcohol use can be fatal, and detoxing from heroin can cause severe dehydration. A doctor or counselor can let you know whether detox is necessary.
The next likely step in drug rehab is inpatient treatment, where the patient will live at a rehab facility for 28 days (typically) and receive intensive treatment, counseling, and group therapy. The goal of inpatient treatment centers is to help the patient remain clean and sober from all alcohol and drugs for the duration of treatment, and also help set them up for success in remaining clean and sober after treatment is completed.
Considering how extremely difficult it is for a person recovering from alcohol or drugs to remain sober for a lifetime, it makes sense to extend treatment in a way that can wean the patient back into real life slowly, and this is where outpatient care comes in. Outpatient care is an extension of inpatient drug rehab that allows the patient to continue meeting with a counselor and group at least once a week for a few months after inpatient treatment ends. This gives the patient time to slowly adjust to their life without drugs or alcohol, while having the support of their counselor and group.
Those who are in the earlier stages of drug addiction may be sent to outpatient (or intensive outpatient) treatment before or instead of inpatient treatment, in hopes that inpatient treatment won’t be needed. Most of the time, however, inpatient drug rehab treatment will be indicated at some point down the line if drug use does not stop. While some people do well in an outpatient setting, many will require the intensity and supervision provided in an inpatient facility.
Most rehab centers in the US use a 12-step-based treatment approach, though there are a few that do not. The 12-step approach usually incorporates the ongoing and frequent use of 12-step support groups to aid in recovery. These groups can be found in almost all cities, and offer recovering addicts a support system of people who have had similar experiences.