What Is Rehab & How Does It Work

A specific question has been on the minds of many: what is rehab, and what does it entail? Simply put, drug rehabilitation is a process of receiving psychotherapeutic or medical treatment to cure or manage the patient’s dependency on various street drugs (cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, etc) or psychoactive substances (prescription drugs like methadone or suboxone, etc).

The purpose of rehabilitation services is to help the patient confront his substance dependency issues and stop abusing substances. This, in turn, will help such people avoid the social, legal, financial, physical, and psychological consequences associated with drug addiction.

This begs the question: who needs rehabilitation therapy? Alcoholics, heavy weed smokers, and drug addicts. Drug rehab includes medications, counseling, and being part of a community of recovering addicts. Continue reading to know more about this topic.

What Is Rehab

What is Rehab?

Rehabilitation is of the utmost importance to substance addicts because it’s the only way they can overcome or manage their addiction, stay sober, and live normal lives. A lot goes on in the rehab facility – the combination of medical detox and several therapies, for instance. The severity or degree of the treatment meted out to patients depends on the program. For some, the sheer number of treatment options may be overwhelming, and for others, it allows them to select the option that satisfies their preferences. This answers what happens in rehab.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 22.5 million Americans are diagnosed with substance dependence or addiction problems. Out of that figure, only 4 million people will get the help they need from rehabilitation services. There are several types of addictions that are being treated in a rehab hospital. The kind of therapy or treatment you receive will depend on the addiction or rehab program.

There’s a Difference

It’s important to understand that there’s a difference between drug abuse and addiction. The former is less threatening and severe. It entails the regular misuse of an illicit substance over a prolonged period (a year, for instance) without any serious negative effect. This means the person’s day-to-day life is not negatively affected by their habits. Their work, social life, relationships, and finances are as they should be. This shows that one can abuse a drug or substance without being addicted.

On the flip side, drug addiction is a long-term sickness driven by the compulsion to seek out drugs or substances regardless of the consequences or effects that come with it. As a result, the person suffering from drug addiction cannot function normally in society. The overwhelming desire to indulge in drugs disrupts every aspect of their life.

How does drug rehab work? The patient is exposed to a care program specifically designed to aid them in participating in therapy and rapidly improve their capacity to face the stresses of life without resorting to drugs as a safe haven or escape.

What is a rehab hospital? This building or facility is designed to help drug addicts recover and stay sober long-term without relapsing into a life of compulsive drug use. They provide continuous treatment that will give the patient a better day-t0-day experience.

Types of Rehab Programs

Once drug addiction has been diagnosed, the best course of action is to be admitted into a drug rehab facility. Sometimes, it may be the only thing between that person and certain death. There are two significant types of rehab programs for drug addicts:

Inpatient Rehab

What is inpatient rehab? This type of treatment program is also referred to as residential treatment. It’s recommended for more severe cases of drug addiction. The patient subjected to this program is under round-the-clock attention. The first move towards treatment is getting rid of every stimulating factor or situation that contributed to the addiction in the first place.

You should know that inpatient care entails tons of personal and group counseling sessions. It also includes supervised detox and withdrawal from the drugs you were addicted to. In many cases, there’s also medicine for the patient’s behavioral addiction problems.

Rehabilitation Center

Outpatient Rehab

This program is for less severe cases of drug addiction. It’s usually administered from the doctor’s office or another clinical setting aside from the hospital. The section of the drug rehab facility that’s designated for outpatient treatments is close to the least intensive section in the treatment wing. This care program is also recommended for patients with ample social support and active employment. This program is organized and administered in a way that doesn’t disrupt or affect one’s day-to-day activities.

Outpatient rehab may include sober skills training, drug education, counseling, addiction therapy, and detox programs. The duration of the program depends on the speed of recovery and other vital factors.

Rehabilitation meaning isn’t the same for every patient because their problem varies. The following factors affect what your drug rehab includes:

  • The substance(s) used by the addict
  • The frequency of usage
  • How long you’ve been an addict
  • Co-existing medical issues
  • The presence of dual-diagnosis behavioral addictions
  • If pharmacotherapy is needed or not
  • The presence of dual-diagnosis psychiatric conditions
  • If medically-aided withdrawal or detox is required
  • Patient status (first-timer or one who has been through rehab before)
  • The need for legal/family assistance or counseling

A Day in Rehab

What does rehab look like? A typical day in the rehab facility is structured into morning, afternoon, and evening activities.

The mornings begin with an early start. Patients may participate in yoga or meditation exercises and prayers to begin the day with a relaxed mind. Next, the patients are served with a nutrient-rich breakfast. Afterward, the patients will attend a group session in which topics associated with the treatment process (addiction, recovery, the 12-step program, etc) will be discussed.

What is rehab in the afternoons? It begins with a healthy lunch, after which a series of therapy sessions follow suit. The notable ones include:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  2. Group therapy
  3. Specialized sessions (targeted at certain demographics such as the LGBTQ+ community, military veterans, healthcare professionals, young adults, athletes, and so on)
  4. Family sessions
  5. Art therapy
  6. Music therapy
  7. Exercise programs

After the therapy session(s), the patients in the drug rehab centers usually have some free time to themselves. You can use it to engage in healthy activities, including sports, a trip to the spa or sauna, meditation, prayer, reading, etc.

In the evenings, the patients have dinner and settle for a group session – the 12-step program. It may be restricted to the patients in the facility or open to include a small group from an external program. In other cases, the facility may take their patients to local group (NA or AA) meetings in the community. Bedtime is up next. Patients are encouraged to sleep early to wake up ready, alert, and well-rested the next day. This answers the question: “What do you do in rehab?”

Evidence-Based Therapies

Rehabilitation centers usually resort to evidence-based therapies as a means to ensure that the patient’s recovery is long-term, with a low risk of relapse. The most common evidence-based therapies include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

This rehabilitation therapy entails the discovery of the connection between the patient’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. The therapy helps the patient to be more aware of how these things influence their recovery from drug addiction. It works by showing the patient that harmful emotions or actions are not driven by logic or rationality. CBT attributes the probable cause of these negative actions or emotions to certain environmental factors or past experiences.

Through this therapy, patients can identify these emotions or actions and revisit them until the pain from these triggers subsides. Finally, they learn new, positive behaviors that can take the place of opting for self-medication. CBT equips patients with self-help tools that they can use to improve their moods and reduce their tendency to relapse.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This evidence-based therapy is a variant of CBT. It’s recommended for recovering drug addicts with severe mood disorders. It works by equipping these patients with stress management skills. This therapy addresses coping and communication skills as well as self-perception. DBT helps these patients by introducing them to skills such as distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and any other thing that can make them emotionally stronger.

This, in turn, will reduce their susceptibility to resort to drugs and increase their tendency to practice any of the skills mentioned above instead. There are certain strategies involved in DBT. Firstly, there’s the removal of drug paraphernalia, toxic relationships, or any other trigger that may lead to a relapse. Secondly, encouraging patients to be part of groups or communities that hold them accountable. Lastly, boosting their self-esteem so they can handle stress better.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

This therapy works by making a patient’s commitment or zeal towards a goal stronger. In this context, the goal is long-term sobriety. A lot of addicts lack the motivation to become sober. Some view sobriety as a utopian goal with no realistic base. Others just fancy the idea of being sober but are far from willing to make that idea a reality. Moreover, the drug rehab facility uses this therapy to help these addicts overcome doubt and uncertainty.

It also helps them foster a strong desire to stay sober no matter what. MI, unlike others, uses the interview-based approach. Secondly, it gives patients the impression that they’re in charge because they get to make their own goals. Thirdly, the patient is given confidence and responsibility for their recovery, which makes them self-motivated to see it through.

Support Network and Aftercare

Once again – what is rehab? Well, recovery from drug addiction is an ongoing process. It doesn’t end when the patient checks out from the rehabilitation center. It continues via the provision of a support system and aftercare. Drug addicts require a support network to stay connected with and draw strength from people on the same path as them.

When a patient is disconnected from a support system, they may withdraw from society, enter a state of depression, and neglect the healthy habits they managed to form during their recovery period. Ultimately, the hurt becomes overwhelming, and they resort to drugs for solace.

Here are some vital reasons why a support network is essential for drug rehabilitation:

  • The power of sharing creates strong communal or interpersonal bonds that allow people to free themselves of the emotional burden they’ve been carrying
  • Exposure to an environment of understanding
  • The power of fellowship
  • Observation from friends and well-wishers
  • Discouragement from relapsing

The Transformational Impact of Drug Rehab

Drug addiction is a monster that ruins one’s life and disconnects such an individual from everything they hold dear. It makes them feel like an outcast to their social circle and loved ones. Opting for a drug rehab facility is the first of many steps to taking back control of one’s life.

What follows next is a rigorous and sometimes “unpleasant” series of activities tailored towards disconnecting one from the savage grasp of drug addiction. With commitment and dedication to the program, the patient can slowly regain control of their life. So, this means positive changes in how they view society and themselves. It means a more wholesome and healthy approach to managing the stresses that come with life as an adult.

The patient can reintegrate themselves back into society slowly. So, they can function as they should – in their jobs, relationships, and finances. They can stay mindful and sober. Finally, they have a second family to offer assistance when the urge to relapse emerges.