Renaissance Recovery logo

Alcohol Rehabs and a Handy Guide on What to Expect

Renaissance Recovery logo

By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

In today’s concise alcohol rehab guide we’ll be exploding some of the more enduring myths about rehab and also outlining what to expect from a typical day at alcohol rehab.
While deciding to pursue treatment for alcohol use disorder is the first vital step toward recovery, it’s natural to be confused and anxious. This confusion and anxiety is compounded if you have absolutely no idea what to expect when you arrive at a treatment center.
Alcohol may be legal, but giving up can be remarkably challenging as you face up to both physical and psychological dependence. Even if your alcohol use disorder is not severe, withdrawal symptoms can still be uncomfortable enough that many people drink alcohol to stave them off.

By engaging in some form of formal treatment, you’ll have access to appropriate medication to ease withdrawal symptoms if appropriate, around-the-clock medical care, and ongoing support throughout your recovery.
Now, before we give you some alcohol rehab information to clarify what happens in rehab, let’s address those misconceptions surrounding alcohol rehab that might be worrying you for no reason at all.

Common Misconceptions about Alcohol Rehab 

  • Misconception # 1: Alcohol rehab is only for the wealthy           
  • Misconception # 2: Rehab will be unaffordable
  • Misconception # 3: You need to hit rock bottom before going to rehab
  • Misconception # 4: You’ll need to endure terrible withdrawal symptoms
  • Misconception # 5: You will emerge cured after 28 days

Misconception # 1: Alcohol rehab is unaffordable and only for the wealthy        

Perhaps the most common myth that abounds is that alcohol rehab is only for the rich and famous.
This misconception is buoyed up by the seemingly endless rotation of celebrities very publicly checking into rehab.
Now, there are plenty of upscale rehabs where bills will run into five or even six figures. There are also far more reasonably-priced treatment programs.

Beyond an ample choice of affordable alcohol rehabs, many treatment centers will accept insurance.
Bottom line: there’s no reason to put off treatment on the grounds of cost.

Misconception # 2: Rehab is only for serious drug users

Many people feel rehab is only required for addiction to drugs like heroin, cocaine, or meth.
While alcohol might be legal and socially acceptable, it claims more than 95,000 lives each year in the United States, according to CDC data. Indeed, alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable disease in the US.
At any given time, it’s believed that up to 80% of admissions to rehab are for alcohol use disorder rather than substance use disorder.

Misconception # 3: You need to hit rock bottom before going to rehab

The whole concept of hitting rock bottom is flawed. With any addiction, the sooner you seek treatment, the better. While many people don’t take action and clean up until their life is in tatters, there’s simply no reason to believe you need to delay your recovery until things are chaotic.

Misconception # 4: You’ll need to endure terrible withdrawal symptoms

Often, people who try to stop drinking cold turkey at home experience withdrawal symptoms so severe they immediately start drinking again.
By heading to rehab, you should find that withdrawal symptoms are managed effectively, sometimes using prescription medications.

This myth is an inversion of reality. In a residential rehab, you’ll find withdrawal symptoms eminently manageable.

Misconception # 5: You will emerge cured after 28 days

Alcoholism is a chronic and relapsing disease that has no cure.
You should consider rehab as the first crucial step in an ongoing journey. Unfortunately, the myth that a quick month in rehab equates to a cure sets many people up with false expectations. Consider treatment for alcohol addiction as a process rather than an event.

Alcohol Rehab: Inpatient or Outpatient Therapy?

With that stage set, you should consider whether the extent of your alcohol use disorder calls for residential rehab, or whether outpatient treatment might be more appropriate.
Inpatient programs typically work best for moderate and severe alcohol use disorder. It can be painful or even dangerous to quit cold turkey at home if you’ve been drinking heavily and regularly. You’ll spend up to 30 days in a treatment center with all your needs provided.
Outpatient alcohol rehab is recommended for milder cases of AUD. This type of treatment is cheaper as you’ll be returning home each night. For outpatient treatment to be effective, you’ll need a supportive home environment and self-discipline.
For the purposes of explaining what to expect from a typical day in rehab, we’ll be using inpatient treatment as an example.

What To Expect from a Typical Day in Alcohol Rehab

Before you get down to treatment proper, you’ll need to check in and undergo a detox so your body is cleansed of all toxins.

Checking in

When you check in, questions you answer during the intake interview will form the backbone of the personalized treatment plan you’ll benefit from.
Most residential rehab programs last 30, 60, or 90 days. While there’s no set timeline and any treatment is better than none, NIDA advocates 90 days as the optimum timeframe for addiction treatment.
With logistics taken care of, then, the first aspect of alcohol rehab is detox.


During the detoxification process, typically abbreviated to detox, you’ll remain abstinent from alcohol while purging your body of all toxins.
In the case of alcohol use disorder, you’re highly likely to experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. These can be managed with medication. You can also benefit from medication to counter insomnia, depression, anxiety, and nausea.
Detox will last anywhere from 3 to 14 days. Once your system is toxin-free, you’ll engage with the treatment program.


Here’s how a regular day typically pans out in an alcohol rehab treatment center. 

  • Mornings: An early start, a healthy breakfast, meetings
  • Afternoons: Daily therapy sessions
  • Evenings: 12-step meetings and relaxation

Mornings: An early start, a healthy breakfast, meetings

Expect to get up early in alcohol rehab. You’ll start your day with a nutritious breakfast.

One of the underpinning aims of rehab is to help you establish new and healthier routines to replace the formlessness of alcohol abuse.
Some treatment centers will offer meditation or mindfulness classes so you can prepare your mind and ground yourself for the day ahead.
Mornings typically round out with a group therapy or counseling session. The focus will be on topics related to addiction and recovery. You’ll start to gain some clarity on the people, places, and things that led you to become dependent on alcohol.
You’ll break for a balanced lunch before getting into the meat of the day’s sessions.

Afternoons: Daily therapy sessions

You’ll engage in both individual and group therapy sessions during the afternoons in alcohol rehab.
With individual sessions, you can double down on the specifics of your addiction, working one-on-one with a therapist. Group sessions, by contrast, allow you to gain support and encouragement from people going through a similar experience.
CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy – is one of the most effective forms of behavioral therapy for alcohol use disorder. You’ll learn to identify triggers to drink alcohol, and you’ll develop a framework of coping strategies that don’t involve reaching for the bottle.
After an individual session, you’ll normally have some time for reflection. You’ll then segue into a group session where you can all hone your newly-learned skills.
You can also expect a variety of therapeutic activities in the afternoon.
Many rehab centers assign some form of preparation or homework for the following day.

Evenings: 12-step meetings and relaxation

After dinner, you’ll have the chance for some journaling time. You may have a final group session.
Often, 12-step support groups like AA hold meetings in the evening.
You’ll then be encouraged to focus on getting a sound night’s sleep to set yourself up for more of the same the following day.

Alcohol Rehab at Renaissance Recovery Center

We very much hope that today’s alcohol rehab guide has eased your mind about what to expect if you take action and kickstart your recovery.

If you’re ready to take that vital first step, we’re here waiting for your call at 866.330.9449.

solpadol | Renaissance Recovery


Solpadol is a combination medication containing acetaminophen (Tylenol) and codeine phosphate. Also known as acetaminophen codeine or co-codamol, Solpadol is a branded medication prescribed to

Read More »
alcoholic nose | Renaissance Recovery

Alcoholic Nose

Alcoholic nose is the informal name for a skin condition associated with the swollen appearance of the nose and surrounding cheek area. The medical name

Read More »
prednisone | Renaissance Recovery

Prednisone: What is It?

Prednisone is a cortisone-like medication known as a corticosteroid that acts on the immune system to help reduce swelling, itching, redness, and allergic reactions. What

Read More »
an image of a client

Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

an image of a client

Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

an image of a client

Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Font Resize

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country