Inpatient Rehab: What Really Happens During Drug Treatment

Daily life in an inpatient rehab program isn’t much like the way it’s depicted on reality television shows. While rehab certainly isn’t “fun and games,” it can be both enlightening and enjoyable when approached from the right perspective. If you or someone you love attends an inpatient program, you’ll likely make lifelong friends, meet powerful therapists, learn a lot, cry a little, laugh often and most importantly, change your life forever by putting your recovery first.

In this article we’ll discuss exactly what happens on a daily basis at an inpatient rehab center for drug or alcohol addiction. We’ll cover everything from meals and chores to medication and therapy, communication with friends and family, the counselors you’ll meet and the daily activities you’ll take part in. We’ll also tell you a little bit about what you can expect on your first day, and what items you should bring with you when you go.

Once you understand what really happens during drug treatment, you’ll see that it’s actually an effective and appealing way to get clean and stay clean for life.

You Must Detox Before Attending Inpatient Rehab

Detox isn’t nearly as bad as you might think

Unless the inpatient facility that you’re considering has an in-house medical detox center, you’ll need to go through detox prior to being admitted. This is because it’s critical that all drugs are no longer physically in your system. For most people this takes about 5 to 10 days, but in some cases detox can last as long as 2 weeks.

During detox you’ll be medically evaluated to determine what substances you’ve been using, in what quantities and for how long. This information is important because in rare cases it can be dangerous to withdraw from certain chemicals such as alcohol or benzodiazepine.

Because the physiological process of detox and subsequent withdrawal can be uncomfortable, symptoms will be addressed as appropriate, including with medication. Various therapies will also be provided to help cope with the difficult emotions and drug cravings that occur during withdrawal. These therapies are also designed to help prepare you for inpatient treatment.

The Admissions and Intake Process

What happens when you first get to inpatient treatment?

When you arrive for treatment at an inpatient center, you’ll check in with an admissions specialist. In many cases this will be a person you have already talked to over the phone or possibly met in person. They’ll ask you some basic questions about your detox experience and how you’re currently feeling, and they’ll discuss with you any suggestions or treatment options recommended by doctors or therapists at the detox facility.

Because your health is a top priority, you’ll be quickly medically evaluated; i.e.: blood pressure, temperature, etc. Your current medications will be discussed and entered into your treatment plan, and any special needs will be addressed during this time.

It’s critical that you keep in mind that all of the staff you meet during your stay at an inpatient program are all dedicated to the same thing: your recovery. Even if you don’t like someone or they simply rub you the wrong way, they’re still dedicated to helping you. The fact of the matter is that most of them have been where you are now, so give them a chance and you’ll find you might change your mind.

In any case, be honest with the staff during the intake and admissions process, and if you’re not sure about something or have questions, be sure to ask.

After the basic intake meeting, you’ll be given a tour of the facility. You’ll be shown the kitchen and cooking facilities, laundry area, rooms and common areas, treatment areas and group rooms, etc. During the tour you’ll be introduced to all staff and patients you meet; overall you’ll be welcomed and things won’t be as strange as you might expect. In fact, many people report that they feel right at home; after all, a significant percentage of the  Drug Rehabs staff at treatment centers are recovering addicts. Therefore, there’s often a great deal of solidarity at an inpatient rehab center.

Where will you be sleeping?

Knowing the basics about what to expect can make your experience much more pleasant

After your first day at an inpatient rehab center you’ll probably be exhausted. Sleeping arrangements vary from rehab to rehab but in general are dormitory style and separated by gender. In some cases there may be 2 to 3 people to a room or suite of rooms, while in other cases there may be private rooms available. Typically these types of treatment centers are more expensive.

Relationships are strictly forbidden while attending treatment – and with good reason. When you attend inpatient rehab you must place and maintain your primary focus on your recovery and nothing else. Even though treatment centers are coed, it’s not wise to become involved with someone while there, and precautions will be taken to ensure your focus is not lost. In many cases the consequences for engaging in a relationship with another patient is expulsion from the program.

Overall sleeping arrangements are quite comfortable and rooms are often spacious and well appointed with everything you’ll need for the duration of your stay. You’re free to personalize your area (with some restrictions) with photos or other personal effects.

At nearly all treatment programs sleeping is only allowed during certain hours. For instance, during the day you’ll be busy with therapy, groups and other parts of your individualized treatment plan. And while you may be permitted to get up early and take some time to yourself, you will likely be required to be up by a certain point and starting your day.

If you have trouble sleeping there may be medication options available for you, and other aids may be provided as well. Keep in mind that it’s important to be honest with your counselors; if you’re having a problem sleeping you must speak up, as you’ll need to be rested and fully refreshed each day in order to make the most of your drug rehab experience.