Drug rehab

A review of the basics of drug rehab, with a section at the end for your questions.

minute read


ARTICLE SUMMARY: Most people dealing with a substance use disorder can benefit from a stay in a drug rehab. We review some of the basic concerns regarding costs, efficacy, and types of programs here.



  1. What Is Rehab?
  2. Who Needs to Go
  3. What’s Included
  4. Effectiveness
  5. Average Costs
  6. How Can I Pay?
  7. What to Expect
  8. Duration
  9. Is It for Me?
  10. Kind of Rehabs
  11. Christian vs. Secular
  12. “Must Have’s”
  13. What To Look For?
  14. The Selection Process
  15. Making the Best of It
    More Questions?


A: Drug rehab is the process of treatment and recovery from drug abuse or addiction.

Treatment programs intend to help individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. They occur in different settings, have different set of services, and last for different durations of time. Most provide services for medical detox, psychological treatment and counseling, as well as aftercare program referral.

More Addiction Blog articles on rehab for drug use here:


A: The purpose of rehabs is to help people who have problems with drug learn to live without them. Often, people need rehab to help address chemical dependence and psychological issues that compel use.

The number of individuals who need treatment is enormous. According to the National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health of 2016 experts estimate that 1 in 13 people aged 12 or older need substance use, which makes an estimated 21 million people aged 12 or older in need of substance use treatment. The numbers break down into age category like this:

  • 1.1 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 need addiction treatment .
  • 5.3 million young adults aged 18 to 25 need addiction treatment.
  • 14.5 million adults aged 26 or older needed substance use treatment.

The same report showed that in 2016, an estimated 7.4 million people aged 12 or older had a drug use disorder.

Moreover, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that in 2016, there were 64, 000 drug overdose deaths.


A: Drug addiction treatment can include medications, behavioral therapies, or a combination of both.

Rehab programs should also offer a combination of medical, pyschiatric, and social services. Let’s take a look at each of these to help you understand what’s required for each.

1. Medications. Necessary or helpful medications will be prescribed to you based on the drug of abuse, your personal medical history, and current needs. Some meds, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are available for individuals addicted to opioids/opiates. Disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone are medications available for treating alcohol use disorders.

Treatments for prescription drug abuse tend to be similar to those for illicit drugs that affect the same brain systems. For example, buprenorphine, used to treat heroin addiction, can also be used to treat addiction to opioid pain medications. Addiction to prescription stimulants, which affect the same brain systems as illicit stimulants like cocaine, meth, or MDMA can be treated with behavioral therapies, as there are not yet medications for treating addiction to these types of drugs.

2. Psychological treatment. Behavioral and psychological therapies are at the heart of any rehab program. Psychotherapy gets to the core psycho-emotional issues which compel drug use, offers strategies for coping with drug cravings, teaches ways to avoid drugs and prevent relapse, and helps you deal with relapse (if it occurs). Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy can also help people improve communication, relationship, and parenting skills, as well as family dynamics.

3. Other considerations. Medical, psychiatric, and social services should also be available in any certified program. Be sure to check the center’s credentials with the state or national licensing organizations. For example, be sure that the drug rehab is licensed with your state’s Department of Health and Social Services. National accreditation programs include the Joint Commission, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), and SAMHSA credentials can also help you verify any rehab’s credentials.


A: Yes, drug rehabs are effective.

The purpose of the addiction treatment is to help people live a productive life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who get into and remain in treatment stop using drugs, decrease their criminal rate, and improve their overall functioning. Also, more than 43,000 citizens in New York benefit from methadone and buprenorphine.

Actually, people who transformed their lives due to rehab are those who were willing to change. You need to want to change yourself, and start over. But, there are many ways to make your rehab stay a success. You may choose inpatient program over outpatient, and you may include your family into your program. So, is relapse considered a failure or a part of the process of treatment?

Still, NIDA reports that relapse rates are between 40% to 60% range, which makes them similar to other chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

We encourage you to see relapse as part of the process. It is a chance to take your treatment seriously, and to modify it in accordance to your needs. Effective drug rehab requires evaluation and modification constantly.


A: Rehab programs cost are based on the services you get. Keep in mind that inpatient rehabs are more expensive then the outpatient because they provide 24/7 medical care.

The average costs of drug treatment are:

Counseling therapy: $50- $150+ per hour.

Detox program: $6-12K per treatment episode.

Outpatient program: $100-$150 per day.

Inpatient program: $500-$700 per day.

However, the programs vary in price drastically: some low-cost programs charge about $7.5K per month, while luxury programs can cost about $120K. The costs depend on the variety of services you receive.

There are four factors that affects the cost of any rehab program:

1. Amenities provided. 

Drug rehab programs can include anything from yoga therapy, massage therapy, to personal chefs and life coaches. High-end rehabs usually offer more alternative therapies, while luxury rehabs offer private rooms to their patients. Since some of the services are charged extra, always ask the facility what kind of services are included.

2. Duration of the program. 

Another factor that affects the cost of a drug treatment program is its length. A short-term rehab could last up to two weeks or a month, and it is cheaper than a 90-day program, for example. However, know that treatment stays of 90 days are most successful, overall.

3. Location.

Rehab facilities located in desirable areas (beaches, mountains, or wilderness retreats) are generally more expensive as they are more resort-life. Consider your transportation costs if you are traveling outside your state.

4. Type of program. 

The last factor that plays into total costs is the type of the program you attend. Since inpatient rehabs provide constant medical care and living space for their patients, they are more expensive than outpatient rehabs.


A: Most of insurance plans can cover part of the cost of treatment.

Private insurance, state vouchers, or Medicaid are accepted by many rehab programs to make rehab affordable. You can also find low cost drug rehabs through your state’s Department of Health and Social Services. Federal vouchers exist to help supplement financial costs, and some programs are even state funded.

Bear in mind that there may be restrictions or limits as to how much insurance will cover as well as what types of treatment your provider will approve. Certain types of therapies may not be covered by insurance companies or government help. Still, you can apply for insurance coverage online with coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.

In lieu of insurance or government help, many rehab centers offer their own financing options to prospective patients. This financing may originate directly from the treatment center, or the center may work with third-party lenders to create affordable lending packages for its clients. Rehabs work hard to create finance packages that patients can comfortably pay back once they finish treatment. Check out the facility you’re considering, and speak to their financing department about exploring this option. Some of the alternatives when paying for treatment include:

  • Employer Assistance Programs.
  • Federal SAMHSA vouchers for treatment.
  • Scholarships.
  • Sliding scale payment.

Let’s verify your coverage for treatment at an American Addiction Centers location. Your information is kept 100% confidential.



A: There are six general phases of drug treatment.

Drug rehabs exist to help addicted individuals stop compulsive drug seeking and use. Treatment can occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for different lengths of time. So, what types of treatment(s) can you expect during a stay in a rehab?

There are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. Drug addiction treatment can include psychological therapy, medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and/or on the types of drugs they use.

Usually, the term “rehab” refers to inpatient programs. It generally takes about 28-30 days to complete the inpatient program, but there are programs that can last from 3-6 months. Every stage program builds upon the previous ones. It is strongly advised to finish the program, because it leads to effective outcome, and in most of the cases, avoids relapse.

The main stages of inpatient treatment for drug abuse include:

1. Assessment and evaluation.

First, you need to complete the paper work, and assessment. Then, the specialized staff will complete the evaluation: physical and psychological. Also, you may be asked to take a drug test. The purpose of this stage is to help the professionals to plan the services for your program. Moreover, nurses will get prescriptions from a physician to manage the withdrawal symptoms.

2. Medical detox.

Drug withdrawal symptoms may be severe, and hard to handle. But this stage will offer 24/7 medical care. Usually, it can last for a week, or two.

3. Psychotherapy.

During this stage, you will learn how to adopt the drug-free life. Also, talk therapy can help you recognize the reasons for your substance use and help you resolve past trauma. Most common therapies include:

  • Behavioral Therapy.
  • Individual Therapy.
  • Group Therapy.
  • Family Therapy.

4. Pharmacotherapy.

To treat drug dependence properly, you may need medication therapy. You will be given medications according to your drug addiction. For instance, medications used to treat dependence on the following substances include:

Alcohol = Acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone, benzodiazepines, and barbituates.
Opiates = Clonidine, naltrexone, buprenorphine, methadone, and naloxone.
Stimulants = desipramine benzodizepine, disulfiram, and ioresal.

5. Education.

One of the most important parts of every rehab is education. Patients need to learn how addiction affects their body and brain, how substances change them, and to consider the negative consequences of their drug use not only to them, but also to their friends and family. Moreover, education during rehab reinforces how to live without drugs, and how to avoid relapse.

6. Aftercare services.

These services come after you finish your stay at the rehab, and their main goal is to help you stay sober. Most of the aftercare programs include:

  • Counseling
  • Coaching
  • Living into sobriety house
  • Mentoring
  • Support groups.


A: It depends on your particular case.

If you are a candidate for outpatient rehab, programs usually last for several months. But the intensity of your participation can vary greatly. For example, some cases of outpatient programs may require a visit to a clinic for 1-2 hours a couple of times each week. Others can require several hours each day for several days each week. Again, an individual treatment plan will help guide you in terms of frequency and duration.

Otherwise, inpatient rehab last from 28 days to 3-6 months, or longer. Treatment takes place 24-7, with medical supervision, group therapy, and educational sessions running throughout the day. You eat and sleep at the clinic and may be recommended outpatient treatment for 6-12 months afterwards.


A: Rehab helps people who have substance abuse problems, and who want to get better.

In fact, if you suspect that you have a drug problem… you probably do. Some symptoms of drug problems include:

  • Decreased work or school performance because of drug use
  • Drug cravings
  • Increased health problems related to drug use
  • Legal problems related to drug use
  • Neglecting other responsibilities in favor of drug use
  • You cannot control how much or how often you use your drug of choice
  • You cannot stop (or stay stopped) using your drug of choice
  • You experience mood swings or violent behavior
  • You experience relationship and family problems
  • You spend a great deal of time thinking about, using, trying to find, or recovering from your drug of choice

If you are still not sure that you may have substance abuse disorder, this NIDA screening tool may help you discover.

More reading here:


A: There are two types of drug rehabilitations: inpatient and outpatient rehabs.  

Inpatient rehab is for people who need to change their environment. This program requires that patients live at the facility. Usually, the rehab stay lasts for 28 days, but it may be extended to a few months. Also, inpatient programs provide 24/7 medical supervision.

Outpatient rehab are most flexible, because patients don’t live at the cliic. They come and go for few therapy hours, several days per week. This type of program is recommended for people with mild addictions.


A: Christian drug rehabs view Christ as the most important tool for recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Further, Christian drug rehabs use a faith-based approach to connect you with God through Jesus Christ.

The aim of most Christian programs is to help clients achieve sobriety and empower them with Christian based philosophies that will help maintain sobriety in the long term. While goals are similar other secular rehab centers, Christian rehab aims to strengthen the spiritual foundation in order to maintain sobriety. These programs provide Christian and faith-based solutions to long-term sobriety and they aim to help you create and maintain a healthy spiritual relationship.

Find more information on Christian rehab centers here:


A: There are five (5) MUST HAVES for drug rehab.

These include:

  1. State-based program licensing.
  2. Publication of success rates or information from 3rd party analytics.
  3. Use of evidence based practices.
  4. Aftercare treatment plans.
  5. Precise medical record keeping.

Most importantly, make sure that the medical clinicians (including the psychiatrists, medical doctors, clinical psychologists, or social workers) are licensed and up-to-date with their state credentials.


A: Certification, quality of care, and aftercare.

When you start looking for rehabs, you may see ads for programs in beautiful settings with a great view. While luxury settings are nice, they likely come with a big price tag. Instead, keep your eyes on what truly matters. The primary goal of any drug rehab is to help people stop using drugs and stay stopped. Focus on what is truly important:

  1. Appropriate certification and licensing
  2. Quality of care
  3. Follow up services

Program accreditation and licensing. Make sure the rehab program is accredited by the state. Check with the state’s Department of Health and Social Services to verify certification. Also check to ensure that the program is run by licensed, well-trained mental health professionals and that each have an up-to-date license to practice mental health services in the state.

Quality of care. Rehabs need to use effective treatment methods for addiction. Look for a rehab with integrative services, a clear continuum of care model, and openness in reporting. Any serious drug rehab should have at least some statistics on their success rates (preferably from third-party agency).

Follow up services. Aftercare ensures that treatment continues after your stay in an inpatient or outpatient rehab has ended. Check that the rehab has an aftercare program, sets up a relapse prevention plan, and refers you to other recovery services and support groups in the community.


A: Customized programs work best.

The first step towards addiction recovery is deciding to make a change in your life. Leaving old habits and creating new healthy ones can be scary. Conflicts and doubts can appear even if knowing that it is the right choice. You need to choose a facility at which you feel secure and comfortable. A tailor-made program may be the key for lasting recovery.

If stress predominates in your decision, try to talk with people you feel close with. Share with them your doubts and fears, and consider their feelings about your choices. Think also about how others are affected by your behavior. Together, you can write down all the pros and cons for making a step forward in recovery.

You can also:

  • Consult with your doctor.
  • Seek referral from a local mental health clinic/hospital.
  • Seek referral from a community health centers.
  • Seek referrals from friends.
  • Search the American Psychological Association provider database.
  • Search the national SAMHSA treatment directory.
  • Search the Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services.
  • Contact your health insurance company.
  • Find out if your workplace offers mental health programs.

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A: Be committed to change, and follow your rehab plan.

Because drug addiction is typically a chronic disorder characterized by occasional relapses, a short term, one-time treatment is usually not sufficient. For many, rehab is just the beginning of a lifelong process. So, what can you do to increase the chances of success?

Because successful outcomes often depend on your participation, you need to know that your personal motivation is super important to a successful stay in rehab. In fact, readiness for change is CRUCIAL FOR DRUG REHAB SUCCESS. Individual factors that help you in rehab include:

  • The degree of support from family and friends.
  • Willingness to be honest and open.
  • Your motivation to change.

Family and friends can play critical roles in helping you enter and stay in treatment. Family therapy can also be important, especially for adolescents. Involvement of a family member or significant other in an individual’s treatment program can strengthen and extend treatment benefits. So, consider using your supports during and after a stay in rehab.

More Questions?

If you have any additional questions, post them in the comments section below. We love to hear from our readers. Plus, we try to respond to all real life questions promptly and personally.

Reference sources: NIH: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide
NIH: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIDA: Evidence-Based Approaches to Alcohol Addiction
NIDA: Is drug addiction treatment worth its cost?
NIDA: What helps people stay in treatment?
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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