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What is a Typical Day in Drug Rehab Like?

Deciding to seek out treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction is just the start of your journey towards a happy and healthy life. Find out how to plan for a typical day in rehab.

A Typical Day in Drug or Alcohol Rehab

group therapy

When considering addiction treatment, you may be wondering what you can expect during a standard day in rehab.

There are many types of drug abuse treatments out there, but most follow a standard framework of therapies.

Residential inpatient treatment centers are very structured and organized, with similar activities and therapies in most centers. This minimizes stress and uncertainty among residents, and also allows for the safest and most supportive environment for healing and recovery. Depending on the setting and the amenities offered, daily activities may vary.

Here is an example of what a typical day in treatment might look like:

Mornings: A Healthy Breakfast and Early Meetings

Sleeping in is not part of the program, so expect to rise early in the morning to enjoy a healthy breakfast. Some programs offer morning classes such as yoga or meditation to help you begin the day in a relaxed state of mind.

Part of the treatment and recovery process centers on developing new, healthy habits that are intended to become routine in post-discharge life.

“I met a lot of great people and learned how to change my old behaviors on a daily basis… Go in with an open mind and be willing. Do it for you, not anybody else.”

Ryanna, recovering addict

There is often a group session following breakfast led by a counselor or therapist that focuses on topics related to the treatment process, the 12-step program, addiction and recovery. A significant focus during treatment is on achieving clarity about the issues, people and surroundings in your life that have fueled the desire to abuse drugs or alcohol.

These daily meetings, in the safety of a controlled therapeutic environment, will help you to begin to recognize patterns of behavior you can change or certain triggers to avoid post-treatment.

Afternoons: Daily Therapy

The middle of the day provides the most intensive treatment. After a healthy lunch, it is typical to begin a series of therapeutic sessions.

These often include:

  • Individual behavioral therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective methods used in addiction treatment centers. CBT hones in on your behavioral responses to specific triggers. Once those are identified, the therapist will guide you toward new, healthier responses to those triggers. The one-on-one therapy sessions provide a safe environment for you to feel free to open up and share your fears and concerns, allowing the therapist to provide tools and alternative behavioral responses to these sources of anxiety.
  • Group therapy. Participation in group sessions provides a certain camaraderie, as all participants have experienced the struggles of addiction. It can be very beneficial to the participants to share their personal stories with one another to allow for emotional healing. The group members often develop a sense of fellowship during the weeks in rehab, and as trust grows they become more open in their sessions and develop a sincere compassion and understanding for each other’s battles.
  • Specialized Sessions. Some treatment centers provide specialized therapy sessions. These could be tailored for anger management, stress management or grief counseling, offering coping techniques to help improve your ability to handle issues in a controlled manner rather than feeling the need to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Family therapy. Family support can be a crucial treatment element, which is why most drug treatment centers include it in their programs. Addiction affects the entire family, often culminating in destructive codependency, enabling behaviors or intense anger and resentment. During the family therapy sessions, many issues are resolved and feelings are addressed. Intrinsic to the long-term success of any substance abuse treatment program, family participation factors heavily in future support for the addicted person after they are discharged.

In addition to therapy, rehabs may also host speakers who share their own stories, offering residents a sense of hope about their own future. Sometimes the speakers delve into practical issues like rebuilding careers post-treatment, or simply offer inspirational speeches to help lift spirits.

Some drug and alcohol treatment centers have various supplemental therapies available, offering more of a variety of options.

Alternative therapy forms may include:

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Free Time in Rehab

woman journaling

There are usually a couple of hours of free time available in the afternoon to be used however the resident chooses.

Activities like pool or ping-pong, basketball, soccer and volleyball may be offered, and some facilities may have a swimming pool.

Some people choose to spend free time reading or journaling and others may use the time for prayer or meditation.

Evenings in Rehab: 12-Step Meetings

After dinner, there may be another short group session. Typically, a 12-step program is available in the evenings, which is highly recommended. The meetings provide a safe, respectful and anonymous environment in which fellowship can be fostered — which serves as an intrinsic element for long-term sobriety.

Bedtime is encouraged to be at a reasonable hour, as healthy habits are being cultivated during the inpatient program. By getting enough sleep, clients are more alert and have more energy to experience peak participation in daily treatment.

Get Into Rehab Now

Now that you know what to expect for a typical day in drug rehab, it’s time to find the perfect place to start your treatment. Speak with a treatment specialist and let us help you find the right treatment center for you.

Sources & Author Last Edited: February 26, 2016

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved on January 25, 2016, from: http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders
  2. Hazelden Betty Ford. (2016). A typical day in residential treatment. Retrieved on January 25, 2016, from: https://www.hazelden.org/web/public/typical_day_addiction_treatment.page
  3. SoberRecovery. (2015). A Typical Day in Rehab: What to Expect. Retrieved on January 25, 2016, from: http://www.soberrecovery.com/addiction/a-typical-day-in-rehab-what-to-expect/
  4. Rehabs. (2016). The Addiction Rehabilitation Process. Retrieved on January 25, 2016, from: http://www.rehabs.com/about/the-addiction-rehabilitation-process/
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

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