What To Expect In An Inpatient Rehab Program

If you or someone close to you has a substance abuse problem, you need to know what inpatient rehab is and how it works. Inpatient rehab is also referred to as ‘residential rehab’ or simply as ‘rehab’. Keep reading to find out more about residential rehab and how it can help you on your road to recovery.

What is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient rehab is a form of substance abuse treatment that involves full-time residency in a rehab facility. Patients at residential rehab live alongside other addicts in recovery, and have full-time access to the support they need.

Patients are required to stay completely sober while they are in rehab. Formal treatment comes in many forms, from medication to psychotherapy, and usually takes place every day. 

Rehab facilities are staffed with many different care specialists, from nurses and physicians, to psychologists and addiction counselors, to nutritionists and wellness experts. Patients at rehab work with specialists to design a personalized treatment program that fits their needs.

Inpatient rehab is a place to reset and prepare to begin a new life. The building blocks of sobriety are introduced during this time, and a foundation is laid which can make or break an addict’s recovery.

Who Should Attend Inpatient Rehab?

Residential treatment is a good choice for anyone who has substance abuse problems. It is absolutely necessary for anyone who has a severe problem that is seriously impacting their life, and for people who are dealing with additional mental conditions.

Some substances that are commonly abused by people who are admitted to rehab are:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Synthetic opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Prescription stimulants
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana

Going to rehab is like hitting the reset button on your life. Usually, people with substance use disorders use drugs and alcohol to cope with stressors and triggers in their life. Rehab is a place where patients can get away from these stressors, get clean, and get the support they need to start their lives over again in the right way. 

Anyone with an unhealthy drug or alcohol habit can benefit from this process, but for people with severe addictions, rehab is an absolute must. Legal troubles, work issues, dangerous accidents, ruined relationships, and overdose are just a few of the ways that a substance use disorder can ruin your life if you do not act upon it.

How Does Inpatient Rehab Work?

The best inpatient care facilities offer the most personalized treatment plans. For this reason, it is impossible to say exactly what will happen during your time at rehab. Still, there are some basic stages of inpatient care that you will likely move through:


Rehab usually starts with medical detox. At detox, specialists and medical professionals help patients go through withdrawal in the safest and most comfortable manner possible. Detox is often physically challenging, which is why you should never try to do it at home. Anyone who is unstable or at risk for going through withdrawal must attend detox.


Once detox is over, treatment can begin. You will fill your days with formal treatment such as group meetings, medication (in some cases), and therapy, as well as supportive and restorative activities. 

An example of a day at rehab might look something like:

  • 7:00 a.m: Wake up
  • 7:30 a.m.: Healthy breakfast
  • 8:15 a.m.: Chores, morning medication
  • 9:15 a.m.: Daily goals meeting
  • 10:00 a.m.: Therapy
  • 12:00 p.m.: Lunch with addiction counselor
  • 1:00 p.m.: Yoga class
  • 2:30 p.m.: Class covering basics such as hygiene, nutrition, and self-care
  • 4:00 p.m.: Meditation class
  • 5:00 p.m.: Recreation time
  • 6:00 p.m.: Dinner
  • 7:00 p.m.: 12-Step meeting such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous
  • 9:30 p.m.: Reflection and journaling time
  • 10:00 p.m.: Lights out

The above schedule is just an example and there is plenty of room for variance. As you can see, residential rehab is a true immersion in the recovery lifestyle. The formal treatment you receive is only a part of what makes rehab so effective; you will also benefit from the supplemental activities and the support of your peers in recovery.

Preparation for Outpatient Care

Towards the end of treatment, patients begin to prepare for their transition to the next level of care. Some patients go straight home and begin outpatient care, while others make a slower transition by moving into partial hospitalization first. 

Although the entire time a patient spends at rehab can be thought of as preparation for this transition, the last few weeks of treatment are usually structured differently. Moving out of rehab can be a shock, so everything possible is done to prepare patients for this transition. 

One key way this is done is by ensuring that patients have a strong support system and plan in place once they move back home. Family members and others might be contacted to determine what support they can offer. Some treatment facilities help patients find jobs after they are released.

How Long Does Inpatient Rehab Last?

Inpatient treatment programs vary greatly in length, however it is well-documented that stays of 90 days are more likely to achieve success, while much longer stays result in greater long-term success

Inpatient treatment is only one of many levels of substance abuse treatment. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding relapse, treatment should not end when you leave residential rehab. Instead, making a slow transition through lower levels of care is recommended.

After you leave rehab, you might be transitioned to partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient services. These levels of care give you more support than basic outpatient services, but do not provide the around-the-clock access to care that inpatient facilities offer. 

Finally, you will be moved to outpatient care, wherein you can live at home and get treatment during your off-hours from work or school. Many patients continue receiving outpatient services for the rest of their lives.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which is Better?

Every level of care has its place, but there is no question as to whether inpatient treatment provides more support than outpatient care. Anyone who wants to take their recovery seriously should begin by attending residential rehab.

Although inpatient rehab requires a larger financial investment and a more serious time commitment, it is well worth it. One study found that people were four times as likely to relapse early if they were in outpatient, rather than inpatient treatment. 

The cost of relapse could be your life, not to mention the thousands of dollars you will spend on legal services and repeated treatment. When you consider these expenses, inpatient rehab is the most cost-effective of all options. Make the right investment in your future and call your local treatment center today.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/podat_1.pdf
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment
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  4. https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8391147