Narcotic rehab treatment: What to expect?

A review of what happens during narcotic rehab. We look at typical program processes to let you know what you can expect!

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Decide to get better today!

In order to start recovery from narcotic addiction, you have to make a decision to look for help. Medical treatment has helped countless people who are diagnosed with addiction problems. You can live drug-free! This type of freedom is inexplicable until you’ve had the chance to experience it for yourself.


In this article, we’ll walk you through the general structure of most narcotic addiction treatment programs. We’ll also explain what to expect when your recovery program ends. Lastly, we invite your real-life questions at the end. In fact, we try to answer all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

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Are you ready for help?

Yes? Great! Skip this section and move on.

No? Great! You just might need a little more time.

When you start to recovery, you no longer have to live in guilt and shame. Life in sobriety is challenging, but having a clear head helps you accomplish amazing things.  But entering a narcotic recovery program on your own, signifies willingness to change. The disease of addiction can be deadly, and the fact that you are still alive, willing to work on yourself leaves room for a happy and sober future.

How Is Narcotic Rehab Treatment Structured?

Taking the first step to quitting a narcotics addiction is commendable, but often very difficult. This is especially true for those who have never attended a drug rehab program and don’t know what to expect.

During rehab, people generally go through a series of stages during the treatment process.  They’ll also have access to several different types of treatment methods. The following addiction treatment services are typically offered by most reputable rehab facilities.

Screening and assessment

The first step in a narcotic rehab treatment is a period of initial addiction screening and assessment. This 1-2 hour interview process helps addiction specialists determine the extent of a person’s addiction(s). You can expect to have to fill in a questionnaire, complete a medical history, go through a physical, and submit drug testing samples. After screening, the rehab staff will/should create an individualized treatment plan based on your individual needs.

Medical detox

Withdrawal from most narcotics is very uncomfortable, producing symptoms such as anxiety, drug cravings, agitation, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia. Before, during, and after a supervised detox, doctors and nurses will monitor your condition and ensure that your detox is performed comfortably and safely. The benefit of detox is access to both pharmacological and emotional support. When you can address symptoms as they occur AND be encouraged…your chances of success are doubled.


To help relieve withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings for narcotics, medications may be given to some people in recovery. Typically, these medications for narcotics addiction are prescribed by specialized physicians in conjunction with psychological treatment. A combined approach of talk therapy + substitution therapy has been show to be successful when treating severe opiate addictions, for example.

Psychological treatments

Talk therapy is at the heart of rehab. A number of psychological treatments are used to treat a narcotic addiction. A person can expect to  be required to attend individual and group therapy, as well as family counseling, when appropriate.

Education sessions

Anyone entering a narcotic rehab treatment program should be prepared to attend several education sessions throughout the program. These sessions can help you and your loved ones learn more about addiction and how to beat it. They are actually very enlightening, and an be helpful to trigger logical thinking during moments of craving.

Supportive services

Most reputable facilities offer a number of supportive services to those who are in treatment and who have completed treatment. Supportive services offered can include case management and social services, such as help finding employment or safe housing.

Can Family Members Visit Me In Rehab?

Not every rehab facility allows people to have visitors during treatment, but many do. Typically, facilities don’t allow visitation until the person has settled into the routine of rehab, which usually takes a few weeks.

When visiting someone in rehab, visitors must  abide by the rules of the facilities, which may seem somewhat strict at times. For instance, visitors are prohibited from bringing certain items, particularly medications. They may also be asked to limit physical contact with you during the visit. To find out more about what to expect when planning a rehab visit, it’s best to contact the facility directly.

Family counseling may also be offered during visitation times. Those family members or close friends who can contribute to the recovery process are usually invited to attend family counseling sessions during visits. Many facilities also offer education sessions to loved ones, as well. These sessions are designed to help families understand addiction better, and learn how to help and support a loved one during this difficult time.

Leaving Recovery Before Completing Your Treatment Program

One common question that many people in recovery have is: ”Can I leave treatment before completion?” Contrary to what some may believe, any type of addiction treatment is completely voluntary. This means that you can leave rehab at any time, but it is not recommended.

Even if you believe that you are “cured” of your addiction, there is a good chance that your are not completely ready to leave treatment. Individuals who do not complete addiction rehab generally have not learned all that they could have learned from the program.They may only just be physically stabilizing, and even that takes about a month.

The bottom line is this: people who leave early may not be ready to resist the temptation of taking narcotics once they are out on their own. They will also not typically receive the same amount of support as those who do complete a rehab treatment program. Because of this, the chances of relapse are much higher in those who leave treatment before completion.

Post Rehab: What To Expect?

Many people aren’t quite sure what to expect after rehab. This is often a very difficult time for people in recovery, especially those leaving a residential treatment facility. So, how can you remain drug-free?

After a rehab program, you must make a difficult transition from a completely drug-free and structured environment back into society, which is often full of temptation. Overcoming the temptation to fall back into narcotic use often boils down to a joint effort between the person in recovery and a team of addiction specialists.  Before leaving a rehab program, an addiction specialist will help you put together an exit plan. This is a plan that outlines goals that you would like to accomplish after treatment and the steps you need to take to reach these goals. Some ideas include:

  • Attending outpatient rehab
  • Getting a sober support system
  • Living in a supervised sober housing program
  • Seeing an addiction counselor once per week

Aftercare is also very important after narcotic rehab treatment. People typically continue to attend outpatient therapy and counseling sessions for several weeks after narcotic rehab treatment. These sessions help people continue the work they started in rehab. Counseling helps people deal with thought patterns and drug cravings, and helps them maintain their new drug-free lifestyle.

Narcotics Rehab Treatment Expectations

Expectations for treatment are often slightly different for everyone, but most people have the same basic goal when entering treatment – to overcome their addiction.

If you or a loved one would like to know more about narcotics rehab treatment, feel free to leave any of your questions, comments, or concerns below. We’ll try to reply as soon as possible and help you move in the right direction.

Reference Sources: NIH: Drug addiction is a complex illness.
Medline Plus: Pain medications- narcotics
NCBI: “I’m Going Home”: Discharges Against Medical Advice
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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