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What Does Inpatient Drug And Alcohol Rehab Entail?

“I thought rehab would be the worst time of my life, but I ended up loving it”
“Inpatient treatment taught me about all my good personality traits. Instead of seeing myself as a failure, I can now see how strong I really am”
“I didn’t just learn how to stop using drugs. I learned how to live a better life”

While there are many available treatments for substance abuse disorder, inpatient rehab is seen as the gold standard. There are a number of reasons for this, including the necessity of a safe detox, a prolonged period away from substances and triggers, and the opportunity to learn new coping strategies before having to implement them.

But what exactly does inpatient drug and alcohol rehab entail? The reality is very different to what is often portrayed in the media.

Inpatient Treatment

What is Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab refers to an extended stay inside a treatment alcohol rehab facility, during which you complete a recovery program that helps you get off and stay off substances. Different treatment programs extend for different periods of time, and discharge often depends on the individual. The average program lasts 30 days, although most inpatient rehab centers offer much longer programs as well.

What are the benefits of an Inpatient Rehab Program?

Many people ask the question, why can’t I stay at home during my recovery from addiction? There are a number of important benefits of inpatient treatment for alcohol and drug abuse.

  • Detox from drugs and alcohol can be dangerous and it is important to have medical professionals on hand in case anything goes wrong.
  • Physical and emotional cravings are strong even after detox is completed. It is incredibly difficult to stay away from substances on your own during this time. Inpatient rehab keeps you away from both the substances you have been using and the triggers you have developed. While inpatient rehab is usually voluntary, you cannot leave if you want to continue being part of the program.
  • Trying to recover from addiction while in the presence of your triggers is like trying to finish building an airplane that is already hundreds of miles in the air. The skills that will help you manage your triggers in a healthy way are difficult to learn when you need them most. Inpatient rehab gives you the chance to learn and practice these skills “on the ground”, so that you are ready when triggered in the outside world.

How does an inpatient treatment program provide these benefits? Here is what an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab program entails.

Drug and Alcohol Detox

If you are still using alcohol or drugs, inpatient treatment will start with detox. Alcohol Detox Program is the process of withdrawing from the substances on which your body has become dependent. Withdrawals can be painful and, without medical monitoring, can be dangerous. In certain cases, it is necessary for a person to be weaned off a substance, so that their body can gradually begin to work as normal again.

Inpatient detox is usually carried out in the same facility as the rest of the rehab program, but it is, in a way, a precursor to the program. For many recovering addicts, it is a huge relief to go through this inevitable process in a comfortable and safe environment.

An Unexpected Community

No matter what approach you take towards addiction recovery, whether 12-Step or other, community is an incredibly important factor. Community gives recovering addicts friends to turn to for support, a shared understanding, and basic acceptance. In inpatient rehab, it also provides a prototype of the outside world, in which individuals can experience common relationship trials and successes, while learning from missteps.

But few recovering addicts expect the type of community they encounter in inpatient rehab centers. Unlike almost any other community, people from all different walks of life work together on something they all have in common. The pretenses of everyday life – career status, financial status, popularity, and achievement – are gradually put aside because everyone is in the same boat.

In inpatient rehab, you learn who you are outside of those pretenses. You learn to empathize with people who are different from you, and begin to recognize that no person is better than another.

Group Sessions

That sense of community is fostered in group sessions, during which residents share stories and experiences. These sessions give you the chance to see your experience from many outside perspectives. You get the insight of the professional in charge of the session, as well as feedback from peers who have experienced similar scenarios.

The relationships you build during rehab are like nothing you’ve experienced. You will come to care deeply for the people on the program as you share more honestly than ever before. At the same time, they will help you learn to implement healthy boundaries, showing you how to care without overidentifying.

Individual Therapy

While community is incredibly important in inpatient treatment, individual therapy is nonetheless one of the rudiments of addiction treatment. During inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, you will have one-on-one sessions with a therapist. Together you will work through your personal narratives, identifying your triggers, as well as your personal strengths.

It is in individual therapy that you will learn to implement your burgeoning skills into a strategy that will set you on your own path to recovery, which you will continue even once you have left the treatment center.

Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders

For most people, addiction does not occur in isolation. Rather, they suffer from co-occurring disorders – receiving what we call a dual diagnosis. For some recovering addicts, their addiction developed as a coping mechanism for an undiagnosed mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. For others, mental illness came about as a consequence of addiction, which can break down and replace what were once healthy coping mechanisms.

Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers provide treatment for co-occurring disorders. This means that in individual therapy, as well as certain group sessions, co-occurring disorders will be identified and treated.

Often, co-occurring mental health disorders are treated with non-addictive medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics. These medications are prescribed by the treatment center’s resident psychiatrist(s).

Alternative Holistic Treatments

In addition to traditional treatments like therapy, medication, and group sessions, most inpatient treatment centers offer a range of alternative holistic treatments.

The most common additional treatment used at inpatient rehab centers today is mindfulness treatment. Some treatment centers in fact make mindfulness the core of their programs.

Other treatments include acupuncture, Reiki, yoga, aromatherapy, and much more. You can opt into or out of these treatments, depending on your preferences.

Life skills

Many inpatient treatment centers also offer classes which provide important life skills that will help residents stay physically and mentally healthy once they have left the program.

They may offer nutritionists to work with you to create a personalized, sustainable eating plan. Good nutrition is important for getting your body back to full health, as well as feeling physically well thereafter.

Furthermore, occupational therapists (OTs) can help you implement strategies to create structure in your life, build a career plan, and make plans for staying on track once you have left rehab.

Family Therapy

Addiction does not only impact an individual. Rather, it affects the person’s family. Relationships often become codependent, and life can become centered on the addict’s experience. This can create problems for recovering addicts returning to a family environment. When the family is still set up in a way that enables the addict’s old behaviors, the chances of relapse are increased. Inpatient treatment centers therefore provide family therapy as an essential part of an individual’s journey.


Treatment does not end at the conclusion of your inpatient treatment program. On the contrary, you will continue to get treatment as an out-patient. This treatment may include a stay at a halfway house, continued individual and group therapy, psychiatric services, and more.

Luxury Rehab Centers

During inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, you should have all the means at your disposal to improve your chances of a lasting recovery. Luxury rehab centers ensure that residents are provided with all the comforts that they are used to and more. This increases the sense that rehab is a positive process towards health, rather than a consequence of negative actions. Residents of the best luxury treatment centers describe rehab as one of the most fulfilling times in their lives.


  •  Boisvert, R.A., Martin, L.M., Grosek, M. and Clarie, A.J. (2008), Effectiveness of a peer‐support community in addiction recovery: participation as intervention. Occup. Ther. Int., 15: 205-220. doi:10.1002/oti.257
  • Taylor & Francis. 2020. Psychosocial Occupational Therapy Interventions For Substance-Use Disorders: A Narrative Review. [online] Available at: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0164212X.2015.1134293> [Accessed 12 October 2020].
  • McGovern, M., Xie, H., Segal, S., Siembab, L. and Drake, R., 2006. Addiction treatment services and co-occurring disorders: Prevalence estimates, treatment practices, and barriers. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 31(3), pp.267-275.
  • McGovern, M., Xie, H., Segal, S., Siembab, L. and Drake, R., 2006. Addiction treatment services and co-occurring disorders: Prevalence estimates, treatment practices, and barriers. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 31(3), pp.267-275.
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