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What Do You Do in Rehab?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 29, 2022

Table of Contents

A Typical Day in Drug Rehab

When the day comes for you to consent to drug rehab, you might be wondering what you should expect. While there are many forms of treatment for drug abuse, most rehabs follow a similar framework. There may be variations, but following a proven curriculum increases the chance of success. What you do in rehab will make all the difference to addiction recovery.

Rehab is essentially a form of residential or outpatient treatment programs and they are carefully structured and highly organized. The structure is specifically designed so that those in recovery aren’t wallowing in their rooms, but instead are occupied with therapy sessions and activities. This structure reduces stress and uncertainty among clients and also allows residents to focus on treatment, therapy, and recovery. Depending on the location and the type of facility, your daily activities might vary.

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The Detox Procedure

If there are still drugs in your system, you must first go through drug detox at a licensed facility.

Drug detox treatment begins with the intake process where you are checked in and your personal effects such as your phone, keys, and wallet or purse are locked up. Your case manager will show you to your room and you’ll be monitored closely during the next several days as the toxins are removed from your body.

There are several determining factors for the length of detox you will need. One of these factors is the type of drug you have been using. While some drugs can be cleared from your system more rapidly, drugs like heroin can take a week or more to be purged from your system.

If you chose a “rapid detox” program, you may be able to stay for as little as three days. During rapid detox, you are put under anesthesia and receive treatment to remove the heroin from your body. When wake up, you will no longer be physically addicted to the drug. Rapid detox is not available for every type of drug.

Usually, you will not want to leave the detox program until you feel that you are physically well and are coherent enough to move around without assistance.

It is critical to remember that detox does not mean that you’ve conquered addiction. Detox is only the first step. It must be followed by rehab and further recovery treatment available through an intensive outpatient program (IOP), OP, or sober living housing until a full recovery is made. If you skip any of these steps, your chances for beating addiction drop dramatically.

What Do You Do in Rehab After Detox

After you’ve gone through the detox procedure, whether at another facility or at your chose rehab facility, here’s an example of what a typical day in drug rehab might look like:

Mornings: Starts with a Healthy Breakfast

If you’re expecting a hotel setting with breakfast in bed, you’re set for a disappointment. Sleeping in is not part of any drug rehab program. Expect to get up fairly early in the morning, but your reward is a healthy breakfast. After that, you’ll usually have a chance to shower or groom before attending your first class or activity.

Activities might range from yoga to meditation, but the general idea is to get you moving and fully coherent. A drug rehab program won’t expect you to jump out of bed and start with calisthenics, so don’t be scared. The goal is to break the cycle of associating your mornings with recovering from last night’s binge and to replace that behavior with a positive outlook toward the new day. It’s about re-training your brain. Part of your treatment and any properly formatted recovery process will include helping you to develop healthy, new habits that become second nature after you’re discharge.

I resisted every part of the morning routines when I first went through drug rehab. I just felt that sleep alone would do the trick. After awhile, I got bored. I finally embraced the plan, slowly at first. I feel that if I had just stopped being stubborn, I could’ve cut my time at rehab in half.

Trevor G, recovering addict

After breakfast, you might be asked to attend a group session which is typically led by a counselor or therapist. These group sessions focus on topics that are related to your treatment plan and this might include familiarization with the 12-step program. A fair amount of time during your treatment will be spent on helping you to achieve a greater understanding of the stresses, the people, and conditions in your life that compelled you to turn to substance abuse. These daily meetings, in the safety of a controlled therapeutic environment, will help you to begin to recognize patterns of behavior you can change or certain triggers to avoid post-treatment.

Afternoons: Therapy Sessions

The middle of the day typically focuses exclusively on more intensive forms of treatment. After your lunch break, you’ll jump right into any number of different types of therapeutic sessions. Depending on the facility, these might include:

Individual Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a favorite among treatment centers, as it is one of the most effective methods. CBT hones in on your behavioral responses to specific triggers. Once these triggers are identified, your therapist will show you new ways to manage those triggers. Remember, beating addiction requires re-training your brain. It’s not easy so you must be patient. Your addiction didn’t happen overnight, nor will your recovery.

These one-on-one sessions will provide you with a safe environment for you to open up and share your fears and concerns. If you’re candid about how certain things make you feel, your therapist can help provide you with the tools and training to provide better responses to these daily anxieties. It’s not uncommon for co-occurring disorders to emerge during these sessions. These might range from anger management issues to mild bipolar disorder symptoms. But it’s important that these are identified so that treatment can take place. No individual can fully recover unless all of the issues that led to addiction are addressed and treated.

Group Therapy

Group sessions are a time to learn and a time to share – you can pick which. Everyone in these sessions has gone through similar experiences, so group sessions are great ways to see how others are progressing and dealing with their issues. Emotional healing can be especially powerful in a group setting because of the unconditional love and support you’ll find among most of your peers. There’s no judgment here, only support and encouragement, so this can be invigorating and motivational. Draw from the strength of others, learn from their experiences, and share your successes with new others.

The best part of group therapy is the bond that forms between some residents. It’s not uncommon for life-long friendships to be formed in group therapy.

Specialized Sessions

Some addiction treatment centers provide specialized addiction therapy sessions that are catered to an individual’s specific needs. These could focus on anger management issues, abuse counseling, family counseling, or any number of things to help address co-occurring disorders or underlying trauma. Remember that you’re not being judged – we’re all human – but you must show your true self if you want help.

Family Counseling

Family Therapy session in rehab during the day

It’s very rare to see an individual suffering from addiction that doesn’t have long-unresolved family issues. Family counseling is vital to drug rehab success. Family counseling provides the opportunity for family members to learn about addiction and shift blame to the power of addiction and not to their loved one. Likewise, it can be educational to the family when they realize that their actions (or inaction) played at least some role in the addiction.

Addiction affects everyone in the family. It can lead to destructive codependency, which inevitably leads to enabling behaviors. After that, there’s not much left but anger and resentment. Family counseling sessions provide the opportunity to deal with these feelings. Family participation can be very powerful in the long-term success rates of any drug rehab program.

Drug Rehab at Renaissance Recovery

Ultimately, rehab is about laying the groundwork for continued treatment. It cannot be overstated that it is imperative that treatment continues beyond drug rehab programs. A few weeks or months in rehab cannot effectively erase the years or decades of underlying problems that led to addiction. The brain needs time in a structured environment to be re-trained.

Find the treatment you need for addiction recovery from the experts at Renaissance Recovery. Our specialized drug rehab programs include:

Contact us today by calling us for our drug rehab programs in Orange County, CA.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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