How Does Rehab Work?

While 25 million people in the US are victims of drug abuse, only about 11% seek outside help.

Deciding to go to rehab is not an easy decision to make, for either party involved. But overall, it’s one of the most prominent steps you can take to get well.

If you’re wondering how does rehab work, read on to find out what a day is like in rehab.

What Is Rehab?

Rehab is short for rehabilitation, a treatment center where those who struggle with addiction. Here, the patient receives the hands-on help they need through a variety of elements. Group therapies, doctors, and different activities like art, music, or meditation could be included here.

There are two types of rehabs: outpatient and inpatient. Outpatient therapy is where you visit for a specific time and then go home the same day. Comparatively, inpatient rehab is when you stay for an extended period and receive treatment there.

How Does Rehab Work?

Many different factors are included in rehab, and each person will receive individualized treatment to help them progress. Part of that process is learning new and healthy habits to replace negative ones that led to addiction. Generally speaking, rehabs adhere to schedules and routines, so patients stay focused on their treatments.

What’s a Typical Day like in Rehab?

While each facility’s schedule may differ in some respect, there’s typically a basic outline you’ll be expected to follow.


In inpatient rehab, mornings consist of rising early for a healthy breakfast and eating together as a community to foster relationships. Occasionally, yoga or meditation might be included to encourage relaxation at the beginning of the day. After breakfast, there could be some form of therapy that lasts about an hour or more, where you focus on the 12-step program.


Before lunch, you may engage in some free time. Then, the afternoon is usually dedicated to therapy after lunch. For some, this could be group therapy or one-on-one therapy sessions, but it’s often much more intense than morning therapy sessions.

These sessions will differ for everyone. Individual sessions are likely to include cognitive behavioral therapy or (CBT).

CBT is a form of therapy that’s designed to change your thinking and develop more positive behaviors. During these times, you’ll meet with a counselor where you will (hopefully) feel comfortable sharing deep-seated fears or problems. CBT provides your therapist with information, methods, and practices, to overcome these issues and cultivate a healthy mindset.

Some people may be involved in family therapy. This type of treatment is where members of your family come and join you in a session so you can begin to work through some issues and build trust.


Later afternoon is reserved for free times and other types of therapy. Activities like a variety of sports, art, music, being outdoors, and even horseback riding are available at some facilities.

Evening time is reserved for dinner and one-on-one time with a therapist or counselor to discuss your progress. After this, there may be a meeting or a speaker. Free time and lights out are usually around 9 pm but will often be flexible, as it allows the patient to decide when they should turn in.

How Long is A Rehab Stay?

The duration of a patient’s stay in rehab depends on several different factors. For one, the severity of their struggles and how well they apply themselves to progressing towards sobriety. It also depends on if it’s outpatient or inpatient and if you’ve been there before.

Ideally, they would stay however long they want, but that’s rarely the case. Other circumstances could include their insurance coverage, work obligations, finances, and the type of treatment you need.

Despite all these facets, an average rehab stay is about three months or 90 days. During this time frame is where the patient’s progress is likely to improve the most.

Are There Rules in Rehab?

Most likely, yes. Rehab primary objective is to teach the patient healthy habits while working on CBT. Each facility will have its own rules and regulations, but here’s a list of what may be expected from you in rehab:

1. Zero Drugs or Alcohol

Any illegal substance is likely to be banned from the premises as patient work on becoming sober.

2. Come to Therapies

Even if you don’t participate in any group or individual therapies, it’s expected of you to show up.

3. Stick to The Schedule

Schedules might not be your thing, but in rehab, these are enforced to maintain accountability.

4. No Media

Not all rehabs are the same, so this rule may fluctuate slightly. However, reducing or restricting the presence of media is to avoid triggers so that the individual can focus on their recovery without concern.

5. No to Romance

At first, the thought of not pursuing a romantic relationship seems silly, but realistically, romantic relationships can sometimes consume us. When this happens, a co-dependency develops which is unhealthy during a precarious time in a person’s life. Excluding relationships at this time is best for the patient.

Rehab is not a free pass for three months. It’s intentional and focused on the patient’s good and freedom from addiction. These rules may seem restrictive, but they’re in place to produce positive effects.

Rehab Recap

Going to rehab is never an easy decision for anyone, and it will be a significant shift in the environment for the patient. Everything that happens in rehab is to develop and grow people so they can overcome addiction. Hopefully, this article has given you more insight into how does rehab work.

Are you looking for more information on addiction and the benefits of rehab? Contact us today to get all your questions answered.


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