What Should You Expect In Drug And Alcohol Treatment?

Attending a drug and alcohol treatment program can be overwhelming. Knowing what to expect while undergoing this phase of life can help make the process easier. Though individual experiences may vary, people who attend a rehab program can expect to progress through the following steps and stages:

Initial Steps

Often, treatment starts with an intervention. This includes a few hours spent in a familiar place to the person in question with an interventionist. There the interventionist and the individual’s family will help them understand their need for rehab help. While the intervention process is never fun for anyone, it is usually the kick-start for recovery. After agreeing to treatment and arriving at the facility safely, the intake process begins. 

Intake typically includes a medical examination and a psychological assessment. From there, the patient will proceed to detox. During detox, substances like alcohol or Opioids are safely removed from the body. Individuals undergoing the procedure may stay in a separate center from the general population for multiple nights until they recover. While recovering, they will likely be prescribed additional medicine for anxiety to support feelings of comfort.

After a successful detox, the rehabilitation phase begins. During this phase, individuals meet others in the facility who are also battling addiction. Many of these patients are happy to be there. However, some are there due to the insistence of their families. After a few days, we find that disgruntled patients assimilate to the rest of the group and facilities routine treatments.

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Next Steps

Therapy is an integral part of the treatment process. Most treatment centers provide multiple therapies daily, including group therapy. Each group session has a different treatment-related subject. In group therapy, members benefit from communicating with others in a safe environment that a trained counselor guides. The group setting allows those recovering from addiction to interact with others who are in similar situations. Group therapy is where most people get the chance to admit their addiction problems for the first time. It creates a sense of belonging among patients and community support. Group therapy is integral to the recovery process.

One-on-one sessions with an assigned counselor are also available. They typically take place once or twice a week. The purpose of the private meetings is to focus exclusively on an individual’s issues. Usually, the patient has the same counselor for the duration of the stay in treatment. Many patients report feeling that their most effective time spent at the center is in these sessions. In individual therapy, individual’s will:

  • Do a self-analysis on why you started abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Receive strategies on identifying triggers
  • Learn time management skills

Another important aspect of treatment is the introduction of support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Both AA and NA host meetings throughout the country that individuals recovering from addiction attend regularly. These meetings are the backbone of sobriety throughout life post-rehab. When in treatment, the center will transport the group to local appointments every week. The center also invites AA/NA members and hosts meetings. Many of these members are open to providing their phone numbers to patients to stay in touch with for the future.

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Continuing Steps

Patients report that the most amazing part of treatment is their friendship with peers, better known as fellowship. Many individuals come to therapy amid crisis, major life changes, divorce, and severe feelings of unmanageability. In rehab, the people you meet provide a non-judgmental and supportive friend to lean on for help and experience. The true miracle of drug treatment is the evolution of the personality type from practicing addiction to recovering from addiction. This transition occurs faster when surrounded by others fighting the same battle.

Before leaving treatment, an aftercare plan is set in place. This plan is developed by a trained counselor and is personalized to help patients cope with outside triggers. Some people choose to do aftercare or stay in a sober living home after rehab. Whatever the plan is, it is centered around relapse prevention. A typical aftercare plan for relapse prevention would include going to 90 meetings in 90 days, AA/NA. The aftercare plan may include avoiding certain people or places. Upon leaving treatment, most centers immediately follow up with the patient.

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Finding Help

Please don’t wait for change to happen on its own. Change can only occur through initiative. If you’re ready to be proactive and bring about a positive change, there is help available. Contact a treatment provider to learn about rehab options today.

Last Edited:


Suzette Gomez

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  • Suzette Gomez earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Florida. Her desire to help others led her to a Pre-medical track with a focus on psychological and social development. After graduation, she pursued her passion for writing and began working as a Digital Content Writer at Recovery Worldwide LLC. With her background in medicine, Suzette uses both science and the arts to serve the public through her writing.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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