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The Treatment Process

Although every rehab facility has their own unique programs, the treatment processes at most share many similarities.

How Does The Treatment Process Work?

Undergoing drug and alcohol rehab is one of the most challenging experiences many treatment seekers will ever go through. Luckily, there are many different treatment options available, meaning that each individual will be able to find one that is the perfect fit for them. Every treatment facility has a distinct treatment process. However, those with the highest success rates have many similarities.

Standard treatment processes for patients entering rehab are:

  • Admissions
  • Intake
  • Assessment
  • Detox
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient rehab
  • Post-treatment/aftercare planning
  • Release
  • Aftercare
  • Alumni participation

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Admissions And Intake

The admission and intake processes are the initial steps patients take after speaking with staff to discover treatment needs. During initial admissions conversations, staff members ask the patient what symptoms they are experiencing, what substances they are using, and other questions for understanding. The patient will generally have a thorough substance abuse evaluation and biopsychosocial assessment completed by a clinician or therapist. This will help staff determine if their facility is a good match for what the patient needs. The admissions process often largely depends on the patient and their willingness to accept treatment. Some rehabs have the ability to admit patients the day of initial contact if the patient is sufficiently motivated.

During intake, patients speak with a licensed medical professional for a physical, then a mental health professional for mental screenings. To properly assess the patient, staff members ask questions, and learn each patient’s history. Patients later visit with clinical therapists and case managers. Patients are then given a customized treatment plan designed by a clinician to meet their specific needs.

Finances for treatment plans and rehab are discussed with patients, including what insurance or flexible payment plans are available. Insurance, credit cards, check, cash, and cashier’s checks are examples of payment options.

Medically-Supervised Detox

The detox, or detoxification, process is customized based on the patient’s initial admission findings, including the results of the substance abuse evaluation and thorough bio-psycho-social assessment. Nurses  also complete a nursing assessment to determine medical needs. The detox process helps patients get through withdrawal comfortably and safely, maximizing their chances at a successful recovery.

Patients are prescribed the medications best suited to their healing needs. Medically-supervised detox is a highly effective part of the treatment process for patients and is often combined with other therapy methods. Detox flushes substances from the body to restore the patient to optimal health and enable them to start treatment in a healthier mental and physical state.

Due to painful side effects and dangerous complications that occur during withdrawal (including death), performing detox without medical supervision is not advised.

Common and/or severe symptoms of withdrawal that appear during detox include:

  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Intense cravings
  • Delirium Tremens
  • Audio and visual hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach issues
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Diminished appetite
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Flu-like symptoms

Detox is typically safe when conducted in treatment facilities. Expectant mothers, for instance, can benefit from detox programs without impacting their unborn child. Rapid detox is also available in some facilities, but does involve certain risks.

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Inpatient Care

Once detox is complete, the patient is ideally moved to an inpatient care facility. Inpatient care allows patients to reside at a treatment facility and devote all of their energies towards treatment. During inpatient care, patients are stabilized with medical and clinical therapies led by licensed professionals.

Patients have control over the methods they use to recover based on their comfort levels. Inpatient care also includes support from various staff members and the development of a healthy patient-therapist relationship. Family members are invited to family therapy programs and individual family therapy sessions with their loved ones to rebuild relationships, provide education on addiction to family members, and provide support to both the loved ones and individual in treatment. Patients are shown love and empathy to compliment healing.

Therapies that may be provided in a treatment program can range from traditional to holistic for alcohol, Opioid, Benzodiazepine, and other drug addiction such as:

  • Biofeedback
  • Physical fitness
  • Yoga
  • Trauma resolution
  • Psychoeducation
  • Art and music therapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Massage therapy
  • Self-love/ core change
  • Meditation
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Nutrition
  • Support groups
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Recreational therapy

Outpatient Therapy

Outpatient therapy is ideal for patients who want to stop substance abuse but have commitments they cannot forgo to be in inpatient rehab facilitates. Patients in outpatient rehab have access to family and friends and also receive individual therapy sessions weekly.

Some outpatient programs assist with medication management, however some do not. It is usually advised to talk with your case manager to find a primary physician for medical needs. These patients also are encouraged to attend support groups, which call for them to meet five to seven days per week to engage in half or full-time programs. Outpatient treatment is generally  less expensive than inpatient treatment, but still provides counseling programs.

What Happens After Treatment?

While patients are in rehab, they often gain insight on triggers and determine if there are any co-occurring disorders that may impact them after treatment. Staff members help patients plan their lives after rehab to reduce the rate of relapse. Relapse prevention strategies help patients maintain sobriety and minimize the chance of relapse. Family members also gain insight on patient recovery to ensure their loved one stays clean. Upon completion of treatment, clients are encouraged regularly attend support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, and even continue therapy with a substance abuse professional outside of treatment. Clients are further recommended to obtain a sponsor and work the 12 steps.

Releasing The Patient

Living a productive life is helpful to the patient so they can feel connected to the world around them. Developing new relationships with people, building new routines, volunteering, and developing new interests allows patients to experience the joys of sobriety. If needed, patients can also access sober housing options for additional support and connection.

Rehab facilities counsel patients on rebuilding and maintaining relationships, as this can be a challenge. Patients are encouraged to set new goals for the future and include spirituality into their lives. Practicing mindfulness techniques and gratitude provide patients a positive mind frame to support their recovery.

Aftercare Programs And Alumni Connection

Aftercare programs maintain connections with patients in recovery and peer groups once they have been discharged from rehab. Aftercare programs focus on sustaining relationships. These programs offer added support to recovering patients and a sense of community as they transition into a world of sobriety. Examples include group outings, volunteer activities, and other social events. Alumni also stay in touch via various social media groups.

Ready To Start The Treatment Process?

Patients contemplating entering into rehab are given a host of healing methods to help them take control of their addiction. If finding a rehab facility is a challenge, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider today.

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Last Updated:


Krystina Murray

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  • Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys spreading awareness of addiction and recovery to help people transform their lives.

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Theresa Parisi

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  • All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by Theresa Parisi, a certified addiction professional.

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