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Drug Rehab

When it’s time to get help for drug addiction, where can you go? A doctor or healthcare provider can help you select a rehabilitation program that will best suit your needs. Many treatment options are available, and a collaborative approach with a professional ensures a successful intervention.

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What Is Drug Rehab?

Rehab, or rehabilitation, is the common name for the place where a person with addiction (also known as substance use disorder or SUD) will receive substance use treatment to help them get sober and live a healthier, happier life. Rehab may also be referred to as a treatment center.

Many people think of rehab as a live-in facility where someone will live for some time while overcoming their addiction.

While live-in rehab programs exist, several other less-intense types of treatment facilities can provide effective treatment based on your unique situation.

Why Do I Need Rehab?

Dealing with addiction can be a difficult process, especially if you are concerned about your substance use. But do you need rehab? What does it mean to have an addiction?

When substance misuse begins to interfere with your daily life—from causing health problems to affecting your commitments—it may be time to seek outside help.

Substance use causes your body to become dependent on that drug, and the resulting withdrawals are often uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

While addiction may not sound like the right fit for what you are experiencing, if you are struggling to quit using a substance or are concerned about your habits, it may be time to talk to someone about it.

If you ultimately decide it’s time to quit and seek treatment, many different types of facilities and levels of care are available.

Choosing the Right Rehab

When an addict decides to get help for their addiction, a healthcare professional will usually begin with a clinical assessment.

A substance abuse assessment will examine several aspects of your situation, such as:

  • Length of addiction
  • Mental health needs (past and present)
  • Physical health conditions
  • Type of addiction
  • Family and social needs
  • Financial situation
  • Current medications
  • Previous treatment experiences

The substance abuse assessment will help your healthcare provider design a treatment plan for your recovery. Your custom treatment plan will include a rehab program that will fit your needs.

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First Steps: Detoxification

Although there are many different types of rehab centers, most offer the same initial drug addiction treatment. When you arrive, you will need to go through a medical detox to get the rest of the drug out of your system while under medical supervision.

Medical detox is much safer than quitting abruptly on your own (aka “going cold turkey”) because some withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening without medical intervention.

During medical detox, your physical health—such as vitals and organ function—will be closely monitored as your body eliminates the remaining drug(s) from your system. The length of the detox process can vary depending on the type of drug and how much of it you are using.

A general idea of how long your detox process can last is as follows:

  • Short-acting opioids (e.g., heroin): 4-10 days
  • Long-acting opioids (e.g., methadone): 10-20 days
  • Short-acting benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax): 2-4 weeks or longer
  • Long-acting benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium): 2-8 weeks or longer
  • Stimulants: 3-5 days
  • Alcohol: 2-10 days (the 36-48 hour mark is considered the most severe and dangerous)

Sometimes, a medical detox will include medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The medication provided during MAT can assist you in getting sober by helping to eliminate cravings or by blocking certain receptors in the brain so that the previous drugs will not have any effect.

Types of Addiction Treatment Centers

Since there is a wide range of rehabilitation centers, people can find a recovery program that is best suited to their situation.

For instance, a fully residential program might be ideal for someone struggling with long-term or severe addiction. Alternatively, an outpatient program may be better for an individual with a less severe addiction.

Some centers specialize in different types of substance abuse treatment. For instance, you may want to look for an alcohol rehab center if you are struggling with alcohol addiction.

In addition, you may be a parent or guardian seeking a treatment center that specializes in substance use disorder (SUD) for adolescents. Some centers will be more tailored to the needs of a young person, as addiction in adolescents will present different concerns than addiction in a fully developed adult.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

There are two different kinds of inpatient programs where you can receive addiction treatment services.

The types of inpatient treatment centers include:

  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Residential Treatment

Inpatient Treatment Center

A standard inpatient treatment program will focus on helping you detox and provide medical care for any additional health issues caused by your drug use. Inpatient programs typically occur in a special hospital wing or at a separate medical facility.

An inpatient program is usually reserved for more serious cases of addiction where other health risks are a concern, such as co-occurring disorders or mental illness.

It may also be recommended for adolescents who might need such rigid structure and special care in the early stages of the addiction recovery process.

Inpatient rehab is much less common these days due to the prevalence of many other program alternatives.

Residential Treatment Center

A more common form of inpatient rehab is what’s known as residential treatment. Residential treatment is likely what most people think of when they hear the word “rehab.”

Residential inpatient care can last anywhere from 30 days to about a year, and there are usually different phases throughout the program.

During residential treatment, you will begin by going through medical detox (if needed) and may have limited contact with friends and family.

As you progress through the residential program, you eventually begin to gain more freedoms, such as trips away or being able to return to work while still returning to the center at night.

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Outpatient Treatment Programs

There are two major types of outpatient addiction treatment programs.

The outpatient treatment programs that are available are known as:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A Partial Hospitalization Program is also known as day treatment. A PHP may be set in a hospital or a separate clinic where the same level of care can be provided.

For a PHP, you will visit the location for roughly 4-8 hours daily but can return home at night.

A Partial Hospitalization Program may be ideal for someone who has a supportive home environment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The care you receive will be very similar to an inpatient program, but since you can leave each day, the program is considered outpatient.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Similarly, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides support and treatment at a clinic, hospital, or other location. However, it only requires about 9-20 hours of commitment per week.

Typically, an IOP will be recommended for someone with a less severe substance abuse problem. IOP may also be recommended after inpatient treatment has been completed to help you maintain your sobriety.

Ongoing Treatment During Rehab

While you are in rehab, you will receive ongoing treatment. Your ongoing treatment is designed to help you recover in the short term, as well as provide you with tools for relapse prevention so that you can enjoy long-term recovery.

A major focus of treatment during your time in a rehab program will be centered around mental health.

Many individuals who struggle with substance abuse disorders also struggle with additional mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Adolescents may also struggle with behavioral issues, ADHD, or other external stressors.

Focusing on mental wellness during rehab increases the chances of both your initial recovery and your ability to avoid addiction in the future.

Types of Therapy Offered During Rehab

While mental health is still a major focus, different therapy approaches may be used during your time in rehab. The therapy that is provided to you will be based on your needs, any previous mental or behavioral health concerns, and the type of addiction you experienced.

The most common therapy types offered in rehab are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of individual therapy that focuses on the patient’s patterns in thinking and behavior. CBT digs into the person’s emotional state to help them create better, healthier patterns—such as facing fears or learning to calm themselves in times of stress.

CBT is especially effective as a treatment for addicts because it can help them develop skills that will encourage them to stay sober and avoid relapse. Often, the therapist will provide “homework” to the patient to help them continue developing their coping skills and working through past issues.

Psychotherapy is a more broad term for one-on-one counseling that is focused on talking through emotions, experiences, and issues. While CBT focuses on developing new habits and patterns, psychotherapy as a whole covers more ground and has different approaches.

Group therapy is also very common in rehab. A group therapy session benefits the patient because they can see that they are not alone in their struggles. The group therapy environment can also provide a solid peer support system that can help encourage sobriety in the long term.

Medication Offered During Rehab

As mentioned above, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may accompany your treatment plan. These medications can be used first to help you wean off a stronger, more dangerous drug. Medication can also help you avoid cravings and support you in staying sober throughout rehab.

Common medications offered during MAT include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram

Opioid treatment programs are a specific type of outpatient care that involves medication-assisted treatment. Because opioid addiction is currently considered an epidemic in the United States, these drug-specific treatment programs are prevalent.

In an opioid treatment program, you will visit a clinic to receive medication (such as methadone) to help you stay sober and avoid using any other illicit or prescription opiate.

The Road to Recovery: What’s After Rehab?

Post-rehab aftercare is usually referred to as recovery. During your recovery, you will continue to focus on maintaining your sobriety.

According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 30.1 million adults (aged 18+) reported having a substance use issue at some point in their lives. Of those adults, 71% believed they had recovered or were in active recovery.

Recovery is a lifelong process, so there are various options for you to choose from that will help you stay sober after you have left rehab. Depending on where you are in your recovery journey, you may use more than one recovery program in your lifetime.

Recovery Programs

Recovery programs help people who struggle with addiction stay sober. These programs offer different types of support, such as talking with a counselor, going to group therapy, taking medication, and planning for aftercare. The programs can be long or short, depending on what someone needs to get better. The goal of these programs is to help people overcome addiction and stay sober.

The most common recovery programs include:

  • Halfway houses
  • Sober living
  • 12-step programs
  • Self-help groups

A halfway house is a program designed to provide intermediate living between leaving the prison system (for drug-related crimes) or a rehab center and reentering society.

As the name suggests, the idea of a halfway house is to help you transition back to living independently while still having some of the structure of prison or rehab.

Living at a halfway house is often a requirement after serving a prison sentence. While residents of halfway houses aren’t only former inmates, many are.

Sober living is similar to a halfway house, and the two are often confused for one another.

Sober living is also a place for recovering addicts to live as they transition from rehab back to independent living. However, a sober living facility often allows you more privacy and often has more amenities than a halfway house.

Additionally, 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a support system for fellow recovering addicts.

The popularity of AA and NA also means that there are meetings in just about every city at different times of the day. You can find a meeting or support group near you using a meeting finder tool.

Several free addiction recovery apps are available for your smartphone to help you in your recovery journey.

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How Do I Get Started?

The first step would be to get a substance abuse assessment from your doctor or similar healthcare provider. They will provide you with a treatment plan based on your current situation, which will include recommendations for which type of rehab is best for your level of addiction.

You can also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) free, confidential helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for referrals to addiction and mental health professionals close to where you live.

SAMHSA also has an online treatment locator that’s also free to use.

Finally, you may also want to contact your insurance provider (or Medicaid) to learn what coverage you have available for addiction recovery.

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FAQs About Drug Addiction Rehab

What should I do before going through rehab?

Before getting started at a rehab center, it is best to make a few preparations.

Planning ahead of time may include:

  • Finding childcare
  • Making arrangements at your job
  • Finding out what you are allowed to bring
  • Discussing details with family members and loved ones

What do you say to someone who just got out of rehab?

When a relative or loved one gets out of rehab, the best support you can offer is to congratulate them and to ask if there’s anything you can do to support their ongoing sobriety and recovery journey.

Often, just the simple gesture of showing interest and sincerity can make a huge difference in helping that individual feel supported, which goes a long way toward their long-term success.

What evidence-based therapies are most effective for drug addiction treatment?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered the most effective evidence-based therapy for addiction treatment.

CBT is often available as part of a rehab treatment program (both at inpatient and outpatient facilities) and can take place as both individual and group therapy sessions.

Can you leave rehab after you’ve checked in?

There are different types of rehab centers with various levels of medical care, restrictions, guidelines, and time commitments. Rehab programs can be broken down into inpatient and outpatient treatment, with various options within those two categories.

Where can I get an assessment for substance use disorder?

An official substance use disorder assessment can only be provided by a physician or licensed healthcare provider. They will assess you for substance use disorder and can come up with a treatment plan that is specific to your situation to increase your chances of recovery.

If you are concerned about your drug or alcohol use and are ready to make a change, you can ask your primary care physician or healthcare provider for guidance.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. American Psychological Association. (2017). What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?. American Psychological Association.
  2. Daniel, R., & Sawyer, W. (2020, September 3). What You Should Know About Halfway Houses. Prison Policy Initiative.
  3. Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions. SAMHSA. (2023, September 28).
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2023, September 25). Treatment and Recovery.
  5. What Is Psychotherapy?. (2023, April).

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