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What to Expect from Rehab

Committing to breaking an addiction and entering rehab for the first time can be a daunting proposition. As much as you’d like to break free from your addiction, fear or anxiety about entering rehab can prevent you from taking that all-important first step. Most rehab programs share some standard features, so here is a rough guide to help you understand what you can expect in rehab. Hopefully, it will give you the confidence to join a program and start your journey to overcome your addiction.


Addiction is a complex issue, and the reasons for dependency vary significantly from person to person. For this reason, you will typically be asked to participate in an initial check-in interview so staff can learn about you as a person and your addiction. This interview will allow staff to customise a treatment plan to your specific needs and help you beat your addiction.

Treatment plans will vary depending on the substance of your addiction and the length of your addiction. Standard treatment programs run for 28-30, 60 or 90 days. You can commit to a shorter program and extend your stay if you feel you require further support.


Once you complete your initial interview and a treatment program is in place, you will need to detox. The detoxification process will help your body to remove the alcohol or drugs from your system and allow you to begin the process of healing on a physical and emotional level.

Detox and the fear of how it will affect your body often prevent people from entering rehab; however, it is a critical step you must overcome. Everybody’s experience with detox is different. The substances you have been using, the length of your addiction and your physical and mental health will all affect your experience.

The process itself will take around 3 to 14 days, depending on the severity of your addiction. It’s common to experience some physical withdrawal symptoms, especially if you have been using opiates or alcohol. Most rehab centres will provide medication to reduce the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and minimise your discomfort.


Therapy is the foundation of all rehab programs. Different clinics will rely on different therapy types, but they are all designed so you can start to understand your addiction and overcome it. You’ll learn skills and techniques to help you deal with your cravings to prevent relapse and stay clean indefinitely.

1. Individual Therapy

You can expect to have regular one-on-one therapy sessions during your stay in rehab. These are private sessions with a qualified health professional that peel away the layers of your addiction. Each session will be held in a private room and last for around an hour. You should expect to have one, possibly two, one-on-one sessions with your therapist per week.

Many people find the process of analysing the causes of their addiction and how it has affected their physical and mental wellbeing to be an enlightening experience. By understanding your journey into addiction, you can learn to heal and avoid following the same path in the future.

Therapy is always customised to meet your specific needs. An addiction specialist can recommend the type of therapy they believe will be most beneficial to you. Behavioural therapies are considered to be the most effective for treating addiction. Rehab centres predominantly use motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy when treating addicts. These therapies will teach you to recognise triggers for your addiction. Once you are able to recognise them, you will learn how to manage them constructively rather than falling back into destructive habits.

2. Family Therapy

Many rehab centres now offer family therapy in addition to individual or group sessions. Including family and close friends, your rehab program will increase your chances of a successful outcome. A family therapy session will educate those around you so they can understand your addiction and provide you with the support you need once you leave the safe environment of the rehab clinic.

Each clinic involves family and friends differently. Some will include family members from the initial interview; others will phase in family therapy later in the program. Some clinics will even ask family or friends to attend Al-Anon meetings before visiting you in rehab.

It is easy to overlook and underestimate how a loved one’s addiction impacts family members. By participating in the family therapy sessions, everyone gets a chance to express their feelings and frustrations in a non-judgemental and safe space. It is also an opportunity for parents and siblings to learn how their behaviours and decisions may have facilitated your addiction. Working through painful emotions such as guilt and regret can strengthen family bonds and help you heal each other.

Post Rehab Support

As you approach the end of your rehab program, you will work with your counsellors and therapists to develop an aftercare plan. This post-rehab support plan will consider your current progress and what you still need to achieve on your pathway to recovery. Post-rehab care is critical to your ongoing efforts to stay clean and addiction free.

Once you leave the controlled environment of your rehab centre, you will face new challenges and temptations. Having a care plan in place will give you the support you need to successfully navigate life beyond rehab.

Usually, a post-rehab care plan will be a mix of social support services as well as medical assistance. Most programs will include ongoing therapy, support groups, individual or group counselling, drug and alcohol testing and medical check-ups. Any post-rehab plan aims to help you avoid social or environmental situations that might lead to a relapse. As a result, if it is available in your area, you may also be offered short-term specialist housing where drugs and alcohol are banned.

Dealing With Addiction

If you think you may have a drug or alcohol dependency problem, you should seek professional help. Entering rehab may seem daunting and scary, but it can be a catalyst for change and allow you to change your individual circumstances. Don’t let fear keep you bound to a life of dependency.