Rehabilitation programmes can be delivered on an outpatient basis but when most people think of ‘rehab’ they think of residential treatment, where you stay on the premises throughout the duration. This is actually the most effective way to treat a serious addiction problem but the prospect can be daunting.
If you are considering rehab, for yourself or a loved one, you might naturally be wondering what actually happens behind closed doors.
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The Rehab Process
Rehab treatment programmes are evidence-based and use a combination of treatments designed to address every aspect of an addiction. A stay in rehab may begin with detoxification – the period during which you process the drugs or alcohol already in your system, essentially sobering up. This will be followed or accompanied by a range of therapies intended to help you explore the root causes of your substance misuse, challenge negative cycles of thinking and develop coping techniques and strategies. There may also be sessions and workshops aimed at fostering a healthier lifestyle for body and mind, which can help you to avoid falling back into bad habits once you leave.
The duration of a rehab treatment programme can vary, but 28 days is fairly typical.
Detoxification, or detox, is the process where you metabolise the elements of drugs and alcohol already in your system – essentially the point at which you get clean and/or sober. This can be a very intense and challenging time, as you may experience both very strong cravings and a range of different withdrawal symptoms. These can include everything from mood swings and anxiety to sweats, nausea, tremors and even seizures.
Some of these symptoms can be potentially dangerous so it is always best to undergo detox under supervision. If you do so in rehab, you will be monitored and may receive medical attention including prescription medication where appropriate.
You will also undergo a range of therapies to help address all the other aspects of your addiction and substance misuse issues. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), for example, is great for dealing with negative thought cycles and helping you to develop healthier responses to certain triggers. Group therapy can help you to put your addiction and behaviours in context and to understand that you are not alone while counselling can address specific issues you might have to do with stress, trauma and other difficult issues in your life.
What Happens in Rehab?
Rehab isn’t prison or a detention centre, but it does tend to be very structured and regimented. This can minimise stress and uncertainty for residents and can be useful for the recovery process, especially since addiction is often connected to chaotic and messy lifestyles and lead to a lack of personal responsibility. It also helps residents to make the most of their time in rehab. Because treatment sessions can be delivered in such a focused way, a stay in residential rehab typically takes far less time to complete than an outpatient or community-based programme.
The exact make-up of a treatment programme will usually be tailored for each individual and may differ quite widely between different centres. A typical day could be divided into the following, however:
There will usually be an early alarm as rehab encourages discipline and scheduling; this isn’t necessarily the place to come if you want to lie in. A nutritious breakfast will help you to start the day and there may also be morning sessions in mindfulness, meditation or yoga. There may be workshops or group sessions led by a counsellor or therapist
Following a healthy lunch (nutrition plays an important part in recovering physically from long-term substance abuse and a healthy lifestyle can help you maintain your recovery moving forward) you might take part in regular therapy sessions during the afternoons.
These could include CBT, group therapy, specialist sessions such as grief counselling or PTSD counselling and family therapy. Family therapy in particular is likely to take place in the afternoon to allow for the people involved to arrive.
There may be another short group session after dinner and if the rehab is running a 12-step programme, these sessions will usually be in the early evening. There may also be periods of free time during some afternoons and evenings. If you want to read or keep a journal that can be a valuable use of your time but so can social activities, which may be organised or more casual.
Some rehabs may have facilities such as gyms or swimming pools while others may be more modestly appointed but still offer leisure options such as table tennis or film nights. Early nights will be encouraged, to help foster rest, relaxation and a healthier overall lifestyle.
Weekends are also likely to include therapy sessions and treatments but may be more relaxed, with more free time and scheduled social activities such as walks and exercise sessions. Visits from family and friends may also take place, usually during set visiting hours.
What Happens After Rehab?
Some people can take a while to adjust back into their normal lives, especially without the crutch of drugs and alcohol that they were previously used to. The knowledge and skills gained during rehab should help you to maintain your recovery and you will hopefully also keep up any healthier lifestyle habits you have picked up.
There are still likely to be challenging times moving forward though and relapse can remain a threat. Aftercare programmes can help in this regard by providing regular catch-up and therapy sessions, as well as support just when it is needed.
If you have any questions about the rehab process, or want to start the admissions process rolling, get in contact today. It might be one of the most positive steps you ever take.