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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you’ve been struggling with alcohol abuse or substance abuse, you might have been wondering what is rehab like. You may also have been asking yourself if it’s necessary for you or your loved one to attend a treatment center, like our California rehab.

We’ll explore both these issues today so you can make the most informed choice.

According to the NSDUH 2020 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), 28.5 million adults in the United States have alcohol use disorder, and 40 million have substance use disorder.

Regrettably, research shows that as few as one in ten of those with substance use disorder obtain any form of any professional treatment.

The more you learn about the nuts and bolts of addiction treatment, the more easily you can choose the right type of treatment program for your needs.

What is Rehab Really Like?

Addiction treatment is divided into two primary delivery methods:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment

Inpatient treatment, also known as residential rehab, takes place entirely at a treatment center. You remain at the facility, usually for 30 to 90 days, from detox to discharge.

With outpatient rehab, by contrast, you’ll attend sessions of individual and group counseling for a few hours on weekdays. At night, you return home or to a sober living home. Regular outpatient programs are the least intensive form of treatment on the continuum of care, followed by intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs).

How do you know which form of treatment you need, then?

Well, if you have a mild addiction to alcohol or drugs, an outpatient treatment program may be sufficient to get you back on track. With the average outpatient detox taking less than a week, you won’t face the expense or the restrictions of residential rehab, yet you’ll benefit from many of the same services.

For many people with moderate and severe substance use disorder, though, residential rehab makes the smoothest fit.

Those lacking a stable and supportive home environment conducive to recovery would also find inpatient rehab offers the surest route to recovery without relapsing.

So, what can you expect when you commit to a rehab program for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder?

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What Do You Do in Rehab?

Now, how your days unfold in rehab will vary depending on whether you’re engaging with inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Regardless of which type of program you follow, the therapies on offer are the same, with the only meaningful difference being the extra time you spend at an inpatient treatment facility.

Residential rehab typically starts with everyone rising early to enjoy a healthy communal breakfast. Many treatment centers will offer morning relaxation classes – yoga or meditation, for instance – so you can ease into your day in the right state of mind. Throughout your treatment program, you’ll be encouraged to develop healthy new habits to assimilate into your routine once you leave rehab.

After breakfast, you can expect a group counseling session. A therapist or counselor will focus on topics related to addiction treatment and recovery. You may discuss addiction in general, 12-step programs, or the importance of avoiding old habits and routines once sober.

As you engage with these daily meetings in a safe and controlled therapeutic setting, you’ll find it easier to notice what triggers you to use substances, and you’ll also start recognizing damaging patterns of behavior, as well as learning to change these behaviors.

After a healthy, balanced lunch, the most intensive treatment of the day takes place. You can expect to engage with any or all of the following:

  • Individual psychotherapy sessions: The most effective form of psychotherapy for treating addiction is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). Working closely with a therapist, you’ll identify the people, places, and things that trigger you to use substances. Your therapist will then help you to create healthy alternative coping strategies for these triggers. As you continue to engage with CBT sessions, you’ll develop robust tools for dealing with life’s stressors without reaching for drink or drugs.
  • Counseling (individual and group): Both individual and group counseling are beneficial for treating addictions. Face-to-face sessions allow you to explore the specifics of your substance use disorder with a qualified therapist. Group counseling sessions expose you to a broad range of viewpoints, while also delivering the powerful support of peers undergoing similar experiences.
  • Family therapy: Addiction is a family disease, and you’ll find most rehabs offer some form of family therapy. Here, you’ll get the chance to improve your communication and conflict resolution skills with a neutral third-party present to help diffuse any acrimony. Family participation in your recovery can strengthen your chances of ongoing sobriety without relapse.
  • Specialized sessions: Some treatment centers offer specialized forms of therapy, from stress management and anger management to grief counseling and therapy for co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Holistic therapies: Alternative therapies are often delivered in combination with evidence-based treatments. These vary from rehab to rehab but include adventure therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and a variety of exercise programs.

After this intensive spell of therapy, you can expect an hour or two of free time. Whether you prefer reading, journaling, swimming, or playing sports, you can decompress before the evening session.

After dinner, you may have a brief group meeting. Most treatment centers will also offer access to a 12-step meeting in the evenings. Many people in recovery find both AA and NA invaluable for helping maintain long-term sobriety.

Early bedtime is actively encouraged, helping you to get the sleep you need while at the same time cultivating healthy habits for sober living after rehab.

If you are engaging in an intensive outpatient program, the schedule will be similar to that offered at a residential rehab. Therapy typically begins around 10 AM with individual counseling. Group therapy comes after lunch, with complementary therapies delivered in the afternoon. When therapy is finished for the day, you’ll return home or to a sober living home. IOPs hold sessions on at least three weekdays for several hours at a time.

PHPs are more intensive, usually holding sessions on five to seven weekdays for several hours at a time. As with all forms of outpatient treatment, you return home between therapy sessions.

At the lowest level of time commitment, a regular outpatient program involves attending a couple of weekly therapy sessions amounting to just a few hours of weekly treatment.

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What is Alcohol Rehab Like?

What is alcohol rehab like, then?

The first thing you can expect when arriving at alcohol rehab is a comprehensive physical exam, including bloodwork.

You will also face a variety of questions about your overall health, physical and mental.

For severe alcohol use disorder, medical detox can help safeguard you against the dangers of withdrawal.

Alcohol withdrawal generally lasts for seven to ten days, depending on the quantity you have been drinking and how long you have been abusing alcohol.

Mild withdrawal symptoms – vomiting, nausea, and anxiety – present from six to twelve hours after the last alcoholic drink.

24 hours after your last drink, you could start to feel disoriented. Tremors or seizures can occur at this stage of alcohol detox.

Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can set in after 48 hours of sobriety. These adverse outcomes include:

  • Insomnia
  • Raised blood pressure levels
  • Hallucinations

In the most severe cases of alcohol, you may experience delirium tremens, acute withdrawal that can be fatal if untreated.

There are three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder:

  1. Naltrexone
  2. Disulfiram
  3. Acamprosate

These medications can help ease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings for alcohol.

MAT for alcohol use disorder can also involve anti-nausea medications, anti-seizure medications, and benzodiazepines.

Within ten days, all toxins are purged from your body, and you are ready to engage with evidence-based therapies. It helps to view recovery as an ongoing process instead of a single event. That said, without detox, recovery cannot get proper traction.

The most common therapies used to treat alcohol use disorder in combination with MAT (medication-assisted treatment) include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • 12-step support groups (AA, NA, SMART Recovery)
  • Holistic therapies

What does rehab look like if you need treatment for substance use disorder rather than alcohol use disorder?

What is Drug Rehab Like?

Substance use disorder can be treated using the same forms of therapy as for alcohol use disorder.

The key difference with drug rehab is the medications used in MAT.

Opioid use disorder and heroin use disorder respond favorably to treatment with any of the three following FDA-approved medications:

  1. Naltrexone
  2. Buprenorphine
  3. Methadone

These medications each work slightly differently. They either block or partially block the effects of opioids on the brain. Regardless of which medication is chosen, the goal is the same: normalizing body and brain chemistry with few side effects or withdrawal symptoms, and with controlled cravings.

As for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, MAT for substance use disorder works best when delivered alongside psychotherapy and counseling.

What does rehab look like at Renaissance Recovery, then?

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What Does Rehab at Renaissance Look Like?

Here at Renaissance Recovery Center, we can help you to combat the alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder that’s holding you back, and you don’t necessarily need to head to residential rehab.

Research indicates that many mild or moderate substance use disorders respond effectively to outpatient treatment. At Renaissance, we also offer more intensive outpatient programs, including IOPs and PHPs.

All our programs offer an evidence-based combination of MAT (medication-assisted treatment), psychotherapy, and counseling. We also offer access to many holistic therapies for a whole-body approach to recovery.

From streamlining detox and withdrawal to managing cravings and building healthy coping mechanisms, you’ll leave Renaissance with a firm foundation for a rewarding sober life. Equipped with the right level of aftercare and a solid relapse prevention plan, you can soon embrace life substance-free. To make this possible, reach out to Renaissance today at 866.330.9449.

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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.”

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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”

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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’.”

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

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