What is a Drug Rehab Center Like?

What is a Drug Rehab Center Like?


A couple of people have wrote in and asked me recently, “What is it like at a drug rehab center?” They did not give much more detail than that, other than one of them said they might be attending a treatment center sometime soon.

So it seems like it might be useful to give a quick overview here for anyone who might be thinking of attending a drug or alcohol rehab. What can you expect? It can be scary to go to rehab, especially for the first time.


* Getting in to treatment

* Drug detox centers

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* Residential treatment

* Aftercare and long term drug rehab centers

* Christian drug rehab center

* Success rates

Getting in to treatment

My suggestion is that you look take action. Find a treatment center that is nearest to where you live and call them during normal business hours. If you are not sure who to call, take a shortcut and call these people up, as they can help you to find a rehab. Ask them what it would take for you to get into their treatment program. Normally an admissions person will ask you a number of questions and determine your options. Depending on where you live and what your health insurance situation is, they might have you call a funding agency in order to get funding for treatment. Basically there are a few ways that a person might end up paying for their stay in a drug addiction treatment center:

1) Private insurance

2) Medicaid (or possibly Medicare in some cases too).

3) Some sort of state funding that may or may not be available to you (that is why you call and ask!).

4) Cash

And of course in some situations, more than one of these payment methods might be combined in order to fund you for rehab.

If your life is truly out of control then the money is really not a big issue. If you are serious about wanting to change then do whatever it takes to secure funding. Some treatment centers will also work out a payment plan with people who are desperate; not all places can do this however.

Another point you should realize about drug rehab is that they do not always take walk in patients and in fact most do not. In almost all cases they will schedule you in advance. Many people are surprised that they cannot just walk into a treatment center unannounced and get treated immediately. In most cases the only way to do so is if you are paying with straight cash. Expect to wait up to a week or two if you are going to be using another funding source, although it may be much quicker depending on how busy they are.

Drug detox center

Your experience in detox will obviously depend on what drugs and/or alcohol you have consumed prior to entering treatment. If you have not used recently or not used much then you might skip detox altogether and go straight into residential treatment. On the other hand, some people will spend up to 5 to 7 days in detox in some cases, though most will only require about 3 to 5 days.

If you have been drinking or using opiates or tranquilizers, then you will most likely spend a few days in detox. There they will have medical staff that watches over you and gives you medication to help stabilize you. The idea is not to let anyone suffer to much while not over medicating them at the same time. In the majority of cases this balance is fairly easy to achieve. You will not be miserable in detox, nor will you be wasted on pills the whole time. It will be bearable.

In most any detox, you only have to sleep for a few days. They will most likely not force you to attend groups or classes while you are detoxing. Most rehabs give you the option of doing so if you are well enough, however.

Do not be afraid of detox. The whole point of it is to make you somewhat comfortable while you get clean and sober. I have never witnessed a person who could not handle it, and I have watched thousands go through the process now. It really is that easy. Just get to rehab and they will at least get you physically clean and sober without any problems. That is the easy part, actually. (Staying clean and sober for the first year is a bit more of a challenge!)

Residential treatment

Residential treatment is pretty similar at any rehab center. There will be slight differences and variations among different rehabs, but they will all have some common characteristics in most cases. Things to expect:

1) Groups – all day, every day. Some rehabs slow down a bit on the weekends, but expect to be very involved with groups, lectures, and meetings during almost the entire time. There will be breaks in between and most rehabs still allow clients to smoke cigarettes on these breaks. If all you did was sit around in your room, watch television, or read a book, then it would not help you to stay clean and sober in the long run. Expect to stay busy. In spite of this, rehab is still a walk in the park, and anyone can handle it. Just showing up is easy.

2) Therapists and counselors – most rehabs will assign you a therapist or counselor to work with you during your short stay. They will probably help set you up with a plan for after you leave as well.

3) Treatment philosophy – almost all treatment centers are either 12 step based or religious based programs. You can pretty much count on either one or the other. The vast majority are 12 step programs that utilize AA and NA meetings as the core philosophy. Religious based programs are less common but you can still find them around. It is a good idea to not get too hung up on the exact treatment philosophy of a treatment center. If you attend treatment for 28 days or less, this is a drop in the bucket and will quickly be forgotten as you progress through several years of recovery. Ultimately you will stay clean and sober based on your actions AFTER you leave treatment…thus making the actual details a bit less important.

Choosing “just the right rehab facility” is not important. Actually going to one and following through is what does the trick. Don’t get hung up on the details. Get yourself into rehab and you will find your own path in due time. If your life is in shambles, then just get to any alcohol rehab center and follow their advice for a while. Things will get better quickly, regardless of their specific treatment philosophy.

Aftercare and long term drug rehab centers

Drug rehab is getting shorter and shorter these days, simply due to cost. 28 days used to be the norm, but now most people will only stay for a week or two. Of course it all depends on your funding source as well.

As I mentioned before your sobriety will ultimately be decided by what happens after you leave rehab. That is when the true test begins and so you can expect most treatment centers to provide you with some sort of aftercare recommendation. They might suggest things to you such as:

1) Attending outpatient therapy after leaving a drug and alcohol rehab center.

2) Attending 12 step meetings.

3) Going to a long term rehab center.

There are other recommendations but those 3 pretty much cover the spectrum. I have never been a been proponent of outpatient therapy but apparently it does work for some people. If you take a liking to the 12 step program then you may very well do just fine with heavy involvement in 12 step meetings after you leave treatment.

Long term treatment is one of those ideas that normally makes the average person recoil in horror at first. The idea of actually living in rehab for several months or even years seems like overkill to most people. But if you are serious about recovery then this will ultimately give you the greatest chances for success.

Many addicts and alcoholics attend multiple treatment centers and still continue to relapse. If this is the case then why not try long term rehab? Instead of spinning your wheels and staying trapped in a cycle of addiction, going the extra mile by checking into long term might be just what is needed to make a breakthrough.

Long term rehab works when other methods fail. Of course, sometimes long term rehab can fail too. That is reality. If you are serious about recovery then consider giving long term rehab a chance.

Christian drug rehab center

One very specialized form of drug treatment alcoholism is at Christian based rehabs. These are obviously going to have a religious element involved as the core philosophy of helping the addict or alcoholic to get clean and sober. Now the question is: does this type of rehab work, and does it work any better or worse than traditional rehab strategies?

For some people, Christian drug rehabs work when other forms of treatment have previously failed them. Obviously, religious based programs are not for everyone and there are a lot of people who would never even consider such a program, even if it was their last available option. But it does work for some, and studies seem to indicate that the success rates are comparable to traditional recovery programs (and can possibly be better in some cases). Again, Christian rehab is not for everyone. But it can work for some if the person is open and willing to explore it.

Success rates

You might have heard or seen statistics quoted regarding the success rates of treatment. There is a lot of info other there and some of it is misleading. In other cases, you might hear certain statistics and decide that the odds are just stacked too heavily against you to even try to get sober. Don’t be this discouraged. Anyone can get clean, and many people do it successfully every day. There is living proof all around us of people who have found long term sobriety.

Here are some things to keep in mind about success rates of drug rehab centers:

1) When you hear depressing statistics about recovery, take it with a grain of salt – it is really difficult to get good data regarding success rates after people leave treatment. There are a number of reasons for this, but just understand that you are not a statistic and thousands of people manage to stay clean and sober every day.

2) Be skeptical of bold claims – any treatment center that boasts of a high success rate or says that they guarantee sobriety is lying. There is no magic bullet out there. Find the treatment center that seems to best fit your needs and go there. Keep it simple.


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