What is drug rehab?

Learn the basics about drug rehab here. Goals of rehab. What to expect. Steps during treatment. Click for more.

minute read

What can you expect during a stay in a drug rehab? We review the basics here. Then, we invite your questions at the end. In fact, we’ll try to respond to your legitimate questions personally and promptly.

Drug rehab definition

Drug rehab is the process of treatment and recovery from drug abuse or addiction. Drug rehab programs, either inpatient or outpatient, provide services for psychological treatment and counseling, as well as aftercare program referral. Medical detox programs can be a part of drug rehab. Because detox clinics require 24-7 medical supervision, diagnosis, and administration of medications when needed, detox may not be provided as a part of some inpatient or outpatient programs.

Drug rehab goals

There are three main goals that any drug rehab targets:

1. End drug abuse – This is the most important aspect of drug rehab. Recovery during drug rehab allows you to begin living a sober life and meeting other life goals that you set.

2. Treat psychiatric disorders and psychological problems – It is typical for a person diagnosed with drug addiction to also have unresolved psychological trauma or other psychiatric disorders present after prolonged drug use. Drug rehab aims to help treat these issues, or refer you to a facility that can treat them, in order to give you the best chance at long-term sobriety.

3. Improve general health and personal circumstances – Your general health may decline rapidly during active drug use, so upon entering drug rehab it is important to discontinue drug use. As a result, you general health usually starts improving overall health (mental and physical) in the weeks and months after acute drug withdrawal. Oftentimes, personal circumstances also become very difficult during active drug use, and drug rehab aims to better your personal circumstances in order to make your life post-rehab better.

There are other goals of drug rehab, as well. It is important that you establish a positive support system during rehab, for example. It is common for drug abusers to enter drug rehab with former friends or acquaintances related to drug use. “People, places, and things…” need to change, so it is important to begin establishing a positive group around you in order to maintain long-term sobriety.

Drug rehabs also attempt to help you meet your employment and educational needs so that you can begin a productive life in society as you maintain a positive lifestyle after drug rehab. A rehab can also help connect you to need social support of systems. Some rehabs can even refer you to legal help to resolve legal problems. It is common for someone to have criminal history because of drug abuse, and drug rehab aims to get you through these problems.

What happens during drug rehab?

STEP 1. Assessment  

When you go to drug rehab, you will first sit down with a counselor or admissions staff and complete a series of written or verbal interviews. This immediate process of intake and assessment is essential to your stay in a rehab center. During this process, drug rehab personnel assess your current condition, define the nature of drug use/addiction and determine a specific treatment plan for you as an individual. This phase of drug rehab typically includes a drug test and interview(s) using a standardized questionnaire.

STEP 2. Medical detox  

Medical detox is helpful for people who have become physically dependent on their drug of choice. It is best to go through withdrawal under medical supervision so that you can receive medicines or support for uncomfortable symptoms. While many inpatient drug rehabs offer medical detox, you may need to seek an outside clinic to detox before starting an outpatient drug rehab program.

During medical detox from drugs, you will experience withdrawal symptoms that will be monitored by medical staff. Medications may or may not be given and administered by staff to assist you with detox and withdrawal symptoms, depending on the severity of your condition. Drug rehab program staff will monitor and stabilize you 24-7 during the process of detox. Medical detox is usually supervised by a medical doctor or psychiatrist and shows best results when the next step of rehab follows immediately.

STEP 3. Psychotherapy, Behavioral Treatments, and Phamacotherapy  

Counseling and psychotherapy is one of the most important phases of drug rehab. This phase includes an analysis of your mental and emotional condition in order to make positive changes in thinking, feeling and behavior in order to prevent relapse. Psychotherapy is usually facilitated in group settings, although some time each week one-on-one meetings will be scheduled with an assigned psychotherapist.

Pharmacotherapy, or the use of prescription medications, will be based on individual need and may be started during medical detox. The decision about the use of medicines in the treatment of drug addiction is largely dependent upon the drug abused, the severity of dependence, and the diagnosis of co-occurring disorders. For example, medications are available for opiate/opioid maintenance therapies, with the intention of reducing craving and interrupting physical dependence. Likewise, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed after long term use of stimulants.

STEP 4. Education

Education on theories of addiction is an important step during drug rehab, as it gives you knowledge about drug use and its effects. Education empowers you to stay clean and maintain long-term sobriety as you rationally understand more about the brain and the body, and how they related to drug use.

STEP 5. Supportive Services and Aftercare

Supportive services are offered during drug rehab and can include help with social services, financial planning, vocational training, or skills development. Supportive services can also be the final step of drug rehab, as you create a support network outside the drug rehab, including attendance at support groups, counseling, and aftercare services.

What happens after drug rehab?

After drug rehab, you will establish your own personalized aftercare program with your counselors and the staff of the facility. This may include entering a sober living house, which will give you a safe and semi-structured environment to continue seeking and maintaining a sober lifestyle. Aftercare also includes getting involved in community groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, as well as a religious, spiritual, or other sober community groups.  Finally, addiction counseling is often recommended in the months to years after drug rehab, and can be adjusted as necessary.

Questions about drug rehab?

It’s important to get informed before you choose a drug rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one. There are different types of treatment programs fit for different populations. You can also learn what Christian drug rehab is and what it offers if it fits your needs and belief. Do you have any other questions about drug rehab? Please leave your questions and comments in the section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women, Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 51.
NIDA: DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
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.
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?