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The pros and cons of drug rehab centers

A Look Inside Addiction Rehabs

Have you ever been to a drug rehab before? Perhaps you’re a family member of someone who has. Or maybe you’re considering sending a loved one to a center to get clean and sober.

Drug rehabs are the standard when it comes to getting clean. If you’re truly an addict and wish to recover, then to rehab you must go, right? Here, we examine some of the PROs and CONs of residential treatment for drug addiction. Then, we invite your questions and comments about attending rehab at the end.

A typical rehab

If you’re physically addicted to a substance and have decided to go to rehab, what can you expect? First, it’s usual off to the detox center for 4-10 days, followed by a 30-day stay at a facility where you’ll receive one-on-one sessions with the best therapists and psychiatrists. There, you’ll learn about addiction, substance abuse and the reasons addicts use. You’ll enjoy family-esque, tight-knit group therapy with people just like you.

And, unless you’re covered by awesome insurance, it’ll cost you about $20K+ per 30 days. So, what are the alternatives? Or, should you consider sucking up the cost and paying for rehab out-of-pocket?

Are There Alternatives to Rehab?


Having been admitted to two inpatient rehabs and one outpatient program myself, I can tell you that this recovery option is not for everyone, and that the picture painted above is sometimes too good to be true. It’s worth your while to consider all options prior to making any decision regarding recovery.

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While it is necessary to go through medical detox if you are suffering from acute physical addiction (known medically as drug dependence), some addicts may do better simply attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings. Others may get the best results by seeing a therapist a few times a week and committing to a structured, hour-by-hour schedule – that includes exercise, meditation, social outings and so on.

The Pros of Drug Rehab Centers

There certainly are pros of inpatient rehab. Most obvious, is the ability to obtain 30 consecutive days clean. Here are some other possible benefits of rehab centers:

  • Building and enforcement of structure (schedule)
  • Opportunity to have medication(s) adjusted until right
  • Possible compensation for medical absence from work
  • Removal of day-to-day distractions for reflection
  • Solid time to unplug from the stress of society
  • Support of other recovering addicts and alcoholics
  • Treatment by licensed, trained professionals

Since it can be hard to not only develop – but also keep up with – a schedule for yourself on your own, you may enjoy the “forced upon” rigidity of a program. You’ll get used to a routine of waking up at the same time, going to bed at the same time, cooking for yourself, working out and exercising, and attending both in-house day meetings and outside NA meetings – every day. For some, the time away from home and work life allows for clearer thinking, to better focus solely on recovery.

In my first inpatient rehab, I found solace knowing I was far removed from my home surroundings, and relieved I could get away from those I used with – without having to deal with daily phone calls to get high. And, when you connect with another addict who’s been where you are, there’s a sense of acceptance, which leads to a willingness to embrace recovery and believe that you can, in fact, stay clean from drugs and alcohol.

The Cons of Drug Rehab Centers

Drug rehab is NOT jail. But similar to how inmates return to society “worse off” than they were prior to serving time – rehabs can leave its patients more excited to use than they were prior to admission. Here are some potential negatives of drug rehabs:

  • The cost of drug rehab
  • Difficult transition from supervision to home environment
  • Disconnect with psychotherapist or counselor (usually assigned)
  • Exposure to other patient relapses, outbursts, or triggers
  • Stress of being around disgruntled addicts 24/7

I remember in the second inpatient rehab I attended, I was unable to complete the 30 days because of the aggression between myself and many of the other patients. This resulted from me notifying staff that oxycodone pills were being brought inside the center – I even walked in on the person in my room shooting up in the bathroom. Normally, I keep to my own, but I didn’t want to jeopardize my recovery, and I was disturbed to know this patient had introduced another to IV drug use for the first time – and was planning on bringing more into the facility.

Also, not everyone in rehab is there to get clean. Some attend as voluntary admittance, but more are court-ordered or doing their time for family or loved ones. In 30 days, bad attitudes can rub off, and, with incessant chatter and stories of using, you can find yourself more ready to relapse upon arrival home than you were prior to admittance (like me, in this case).

Doing Your Research

An addict can only recover when he or she is fully ready and completely done with using drugs or alcohol. The external factors mentioned above – like the attitudes of other patients, quality of staff, events transpiring back at home – can all play a role in one’s recovery. But addiction can be beaten, and only so when the addict truly wishes to discontinue behavior and do so for him or herself. Getting or staying clean or sober for a parent, spouse, partner – that will only keep someone sober for so long.

If you believe a rehab is the best way to kickstart your sobriety, then make sure you spend as much time as it takes to find the center you believe will produce the greatest results. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Is a change of scenery necessary? Then search for a program in another state.
  2. Would going out of state cause homesickness or anxiety? Then find the most reputable local rehab.
  3. Do you think a religious center would provide more support? Then seek faith based treatment options.

Do your research, call and “interview” centers, and be open to rehabs not (fully) covered by your insurance provider. When it comes to saving lives, there is no such thing as cost.

And, if a drug rehab center isn’t ideal, keep in mind the other, less-traveled recovery routes. Outpatient addiction treatment has been shown to be as successful as inpatient stays for those who are motivated and willing to do the work. A vacation with loved ones, structured schedule, routine exercising and daily meditation may be just exactly what the doctor ordered. Support groups can also play a role in your own self-guided recovery.

Whatever steps you decide on, know that you are not alone! Please leave us your question or describe your situation in the comments section below. We’ll be in touch with you as soon as we can with a personal reply. Or, we can refer you to someone who can help!

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6 Responses to “The pros and cons of drug rehab centers
5:13 pm November 30th, 2015

The NA meetings do not seem to be helping me here. I live in a small town. The same people go to every meeting. I am not comfortable with these people. The next town is 30 miles away. It is a college town but I am more concerned with the drive. Any suggestions?

1:47 pm December 15th, 2015

Hi Georgia. I understand your standing point! There are other support groups other than NA and some may even hold meetings closer in your area. You also have online options available, which may be more convenient for you. Check the web pages and enter your geographic area of living to see what fits your needs:

SMART Recovery® Meetings
Secular Organizations for Sobriety Meetings
Face-to-Face LifeRing Meetings
Online LifeRing Meetings
Find Women for Sobriety Headquarters
Moderation Management Face-to-Face Meeting
Moderation Management Online Support
SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services

Good luck and I hope this helps!

2:23 am November 10th, 2016

My experience with rehabs, even with insurance, is they are sooooooo uncomfortable! I know their goal is for you to get better and get out, but the beds are hard, a lot of the staff has a nasty attitude and I think that’s why clients want to leave as soon as possible!

1:11 am January 6th, 2017

Very helpful! It is very important for the family members to understand very well the pros and cons in having a patient in the rehabilitation center. In that way, choices are given and the quality of service that the patient is needed is given the best attention.

7:26 pm December 3rd, 2017

I was just recently admitted to a state detox facility in the state of Connecticut which I right from the get-go adamantly regretted right from the beginning but went along with my family sister mother and then wanting me to be clean I was there about 4 days and it was just a horror show in a mess left by myself for hours on end being sick bed sores not eating for 5 or 6 days straight which is very usual for me and just not being able to seem to get headed in the right direction at all so I took it upon myself to sign out today I think I made the right decision as I know what I need to do to be clean like you said in your above article I don’t need the constant chattering and negativity of other addicts that are there for other reasons other than their own YouTube labor and Recovery married to another inpatient program today in the state of Connecticut called natchaug I believe it seems like a good fit you never know until you see what you’re getting actually when you get there everything looks so great on the f****** pamphlet or computer advertisement excuse the language my question is after I come back from detox do you think my next step of recovery should be I’m not into the 30 day program my strong will human being and I just want a little advice and how I should pursue my dream thank you in advance

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
6:25 pm December 19th, 2017

Hi Jason. You may want to enroll into a supporting group or an aftercare program.

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About The Addictid Blog is a new blog about addiction seeking to reshape opinion and reduce stigma. It's run by a recovering addict in his late twenties who stumbles with the occasional relapse. Perhaps in time, he'll show his face. You can find him at The Addictid Blog and on his I Am Addictid Twitter handle.

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