What does rehab for drug addiction look like?

Many people with drug (or alcohol) dependencies make the brave step of acknowledging they have a problem, but still don’t get the help they need. This is often because: they don’t know how to access a treatment programme, or they don’t know what drug rehab actually involves.

Stepping away from a life that has been dominated by addictive substances — whether it be Heroin, Cocaine, Cannabis, Amphetamines or prescription drugs — is hard, and professional treatment programmes are pivotal in successful drug and alcohol rehab. But people often don’t reach out to a treatment facility for the support they need. In most cases, this is due to a fear of the unknown as most have never visited a rehab or addiction centre before.

So, what does rehab for drug addiction really look like?

Let’s start with what life at a treatment centre DOES NOT look like. Thanks to Hollywood movies and other urban myths about addiction rehab, there is a perception that checking in to a rehab facility means entering a Draconian-style “prison”, cut off from the outside world. This is not the case. Professional treatment centres are founded on expertise, client-specific treatments & therapies, and most importantly support and compassion.

Professional treatment programmes are pivotal in the majority of successful long-term recovery from addictions, but only when the rehab facility works with the client — and family members/loved ones whenever possible. It’s a team effort.


Inpatient Vs Outpatient

When somebody with drug problems and/or alcohol addiction reaches out, the journey towards a life without addictive substances can begin. This starts with the rehab centre fully assessing the client — in terms of their specific addiction(s), health problems, mental health and rehab goals — before discussing treatment options and formulating a short- and long-term programme.

One major decision is whether an inpatient rehab programme or outpatient treatment is best. This depends on the severity of the addiction and the type of addictive substances being used. All treatment programmes will involve some outpatient care either for the duration of drug rehab or for long-term support and therapy following residential treatment.

The reality is that the vast majority of treatment programmes for addictive substances usually involve at least some time as an inpatient at a treatment facility. This is to offer the right 24/7 support and supervision, especially during any initial medicated detox to ease withdrawal symptoms.  Staying at a treatment facility provides constant support and motivation and a consistent routine, which is fundamental in the rehab process.

Routine, routine routine… This may sound boring, but structure is vital in addiction rehab. Regular eating; sleeping; work (in rehab: therapy or treatment); exercise; and leisure patterns counteract the chaos of addiction and retrain the brain and psychological behaviours. They also reduce one of the major obstacles to beating addictive substance use: boredom.

A regular routine both as an inpatient and outpatient is key to achieving long term recovery and the foundations for this are established during residential treatment. Although the exact routine will vary from person to person and treatment centre, a typical routine at a residential rehab centre is divided into: mornings, afternoons, evenings and night-time, and usually follows a similar pattern:


Mornings In Rehab

Mornings in rehab usually involve:

• A regular time (usually early) to get out of bed and dressed.

Getting up at the same time every day is the first step to creating a regular long term daily routine for drug rehab.

• A healthy, nutritional breakfast.

Eating healthily is an essential part of any successful treatment programme to replenish and rebalance physical and mental health. It can also counteract the physical effects and health problems caused by drug addiction and aid recovery.

• A holistic treatment/activity such as yoga or meditation.

These treatments and activities both relax and invigorate the mind and body and relieve anxiety.

• A therapy session. A group session in the morning can assist with motivation after and is an opportunity to talk through and receive peer support with any anxieties that may have arisen during the night.


Afternoons in rehab

Afternoons in rehab usually involve:

• A healthy, nutritional lunch

• One-to-one treatments and therapies and/or therapy with family members.

Although not always the case, one-to-one, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therapy and/or sessions with a professional psychologist, psychiatrist or drug rehab specialist often take place in the afternoon at treatment centres. These professional treatments address the triggers for using addictive substances and any other mental health and physical problems.

When possible, family members are encouraged to take part in some sessions. They are also affected by drug addiction and this can impact relationships. They can also form the strongest support groups for long term recovery after leaving residential treatment.

• Leisure activities.

These can include anything from a swim or personal training to Reiki, massage, and hair and beauty treatments. Regular leisure time is important to relax the mind and body, especially during drug rehab. Plus, doing something enjoyable is not only good for mind, body and soul, it works as a distraction from any physical or psychological cravings.

• There may be some personal time in the afternoons.


Evenings In Rehab

Evenings in rehab usually involve:

• Dinner: once again healthy and nutritious.

• Group sessions and support groups.

This is another chance to talk with peers and both give (very rewarding and creates positive cognitive changes) and receive support. This may or may not involve a 12-Step Programme, depending on the particular addiction centre.

Night-time in rehab

• A regular bedtime at a reasonable hour.

Addictive substances interfere with the body’s natural sleeping patterns and this can often lead to insomnia and interrupted sleep. Going to bed at the same time — and at a reasonable hour — may be difficult at first. But consistency will create new, healthy sleep patterns and quality rest, which are vital for both physical and mental health.

Night-time can be the hardest time when recovering from addiction. But, in residential treatment, staff are available 24/7 to offer support and make the rehab process as painless as possible.


Getting A Placement At Rehab

Compared to the tough steps of acknowledging a drug problem and deciding to go to drug rehab, getting a placement at a rehab centre is the easy part. The client or a family member simply need to contact a residential treatment centre and the rehab professionals will guide you through the entire process.