What is drug rehab?
Drug rehab refers to a program that includes assessment, detox, counseling, and aftercare preparation to help people get off, and stay off, drugs and alcohol.
- Assessment: This stage’s goal is to tailor a treatment plan for the individual patient based on type, length, and severity of his or her addiction and any unique challenges that they face (such as co-occurring mental disorders or domestic abuse).
- Detoxification: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is the process of “allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.” There are two basic approaches to detox: Medications can be prescribed that can gradually wean the body of the substance, or the natural approach can be used (quitting “cold-turkey”). Find out more about detox centers on our Alcohol and Drug Detox Centers guide.
- Therapy: This aspect of treatment can take many forms, but the purpose is to identify and treat the underlying physiological or behavioral issues that cause the person to use drugs – one-on-one therapy, group counseling, and mental health treatment are all examples.
- Aftercare: To avoid relapse, successful substance abuse treatment must include a plan to help the individual maintain sobriety after they leave the treatment center. Examples of aftercare include 12-step programs, sober living homes, and ongoing counseling.
Do I need to go to rehab?
If substance abuse or addiction is negatively impacting your life or relationships, rehab can help.
Substance abuse and addiction have high costs, often adversely affecting work performance, personal relationships, and your physical health. To determine if you are addicted, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence has two quizzes to help you find out: Am I Alcoholic? and Am I Drug Addicted?
How long does rehab take?
Rehab programs can last anywhere from 28 days to a year or more.
Different programs and levels of addiction require different program lengths. If you are very addicted to a drug, you will likely take longer to fully rehabilitate than someone with a mild addiction. Also, the type of treatment program you choose will offer different duration options.
The common rehab lengths are:
- 30 Days
- 60 Days
- 90 Days
- 120+ Days
What drugs or drug addictions do rehabs accept?
Rehabs accept all drug and substance addictions.
Rehab treatment often employs similar therapies when treating different drug addictions because the path to recovering from any drug requires training the brain to respond differently to triggers and drug cravings.
While the majority of programs treat multiple drugs, some centers treat alcohol abuse alone. Many other centers may have specialized programs for certain drugs, but they do not only treat people with that one drug addiction.
Does rehab cure addiction?
Rehab does not cure addiction, but it does help users overcome addiction.
Addiction is impossible to fully “cure” because it is as much about overcoming a chemical dependency as it is behavioral training. For instance, each time the brain accesses the drug, the brain experiences chemical changes outside the norm and essentially rewires because of those intense surges of drug-induced activity. Likewise, the person is then trained by the brain to want more of the drug, so they act on cravings consistently.
Scientific studies and clinical trials have created some drugs to help the brain recover from chemical changes, but much of rehab focuses on behavioral changes. To achieve long-term abstinence, therapists first help users rethink why they are craving the drugs, and then they help them learn how to overcome those cravings. They will also help them address other psychological difficulties that may have contributed to the substance abuse.
While rehab cannot keep people from ever using drugs again, it does give individuals tools to use when facing drug cravings, and it gives encouragement to continue staying healthy and clean.
What’s the difference between detox and rehab?
Rehab programs provide a process for recovering from drug addiction while detox is one step in that process when the body rids itself of the drug.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is the process of “allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.” There are two basic approaches to detox: Medications can be prescribed that can gradually wean the body of the substance, or the natural approach can be used (quitting “cold-turkey”).
Detox can be completed on its own in a stand-alone facility or as part of the rehabilitation process at a rehab center. The rehabilitation process is made up of assessment, detox, therapy, and aftercare.
What’s the difference between rehab and recovery?
Rehab helps people stop using drugs and get over addiction; recovery is the lifelong process of abstaining from drugs – it includes rehab and continues after it.
Rehab is the initial part of recovery and has four stages, including assessment, detox, counseling, and aftercare. Recovery is the entire experience of getting off a drug and staying sober, encompassing the ongoing struggle to maintain abstinence and not relapse. Recovery includes the following steps, which start with the rehab process:
- Acknowledgement: Recovery begins when you realize that you have a problem and decide to get help.
- Assessment: Rehab starts with the screening process to determine the extent of the addiction.
- Detoxification: The second step in rehab allows the body to cleanse itself from any drugs’ lingering toxins.
- Therapy: The bulk of rehab is spent learning how to cope with underlying psychological issues and behavioral responses to drugs.
- Aftercare: The final step of rehab facilitates a plan to stay involved in various accountability programs or counseling to build on the progress made in therapy and to maintain sobriety.
- Abstinence: Recovery includes a lifelong commitment to be completely clean from drug usage through continued effort and by overcoming challenges that lead back into the addiction cycle.
Can I go to rehab more than once?
Yes, there is no limit to how often you can go to rehab.
There is no limit to how often you can enter rehab because the goal of rehab is providing people with the resources and help they need to get sober. Sometimes, it takes more than one rehab program or one approach.
However, being successful in rehab the first time will save you time and money. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that anywhere from 40-60% of people who enter rehab will relapse, but those numbers rise for those who don’t continue with aftercare after their stint in a rehab program. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Sober Living Homes can all provide additional supports to help you stay clean after rehab and be successful.
What if I am slightly addicted but still want help?
The best course of action may be finding a counselor with a background in drug addiction.
Some intensive rehab programs, especially hospitalization, only accept people with severe addictions, but it is still important for anyone who may be addicted on any level to find help. Recent research shows that the best initial approach to light drug addiction, and sometimes even moderate addiction, may be searching out a therapist or counselor with a background in Substance Use Disorder or SUD. One good place to look is outpatient centers for drug addiction or SUD. You can find a comprehensive list of them in our directory.
It’s common to minimize an addiction or underestimate its power, which is a good reason to see a certified addiction therapist or go through a screening process for outpatient care. Even if you think you are barely addicted, a specialist would be able to explain exactly where you currently are on the addiction spectrum and give you evidence-based suggestions for how to move forward, either with counseling or in a more structured rehab program.
Choosing a Treatment Center
Should I go to rehab near or far away from home?
It depends – many people choose to go to a rehab near home for affordability, but others want to get away from triggers and go to a program farther away.
Going to rehab close to home may be best for people who:
- Can’t escape job or personal responsibilities
- Benefit from their support group of family and/or friends
- Need the flexible schedule that outpatient rehab provides
Going to rehab away from home may be best for people who:
- Have many negative influences near home that may trigger their addiction
- Do not have financial concerns about going and living away from home
- Don’t live in or near a major city with numerous rehab options
How can I find a drug rehab near me?
Find rehab near you by using this comprehensive directory.
How can I find the right program for me?
Finding information about types of programs, lengths, and what is best for your drug addiction is crucial when choosing a program.
A trained addiction counselor or medical professional can use an ASAM assessment to determine your level of addiction and make a recommendation based on your specific situation. The main factors to consider involve:
- Program Setting: A “setting” is the type of location and program provided. For instance, an inpatient treatment center is a separate facility that provides room and board as well as services, whereas an outpatient program could be a small office that only provides therapy.
- Specific Approaches: “Approaches” are the types of therapy (behavioral and medical) that help people who are addicted to a drug. Finding out which approach has worked for others who had a similar drug addiction could help you be more successful in rehab. Head to our rehab pages for popular drugs like alcohol, meth, cocaine, and heroin to see approaches that are scientifically proven.
- Program Lengths and Location: Rehab programs vary in duration and location, which is why it is important to know how far away from home you are willing to go as well as how big of a time and money commitment you can make.
Are there rehabs specifically for women? LGBTQ? Veterans?
Most rehabs serve a co-ed, diverse population, but some are targeted to specific groups.
Many rehab centers are equipped to help people from various demographics. Call and talk to the staff about your needs to gauge how you will feel in their treatment program.
If you are particularly interested in finding a rehab program geared toward a specific group, there may be programs available to you, but they may not be in a desirable location or could be more expensive than other treatment options. Some specialty rehabs are only available as residential treatment centers, which would be more expensive than a local outpatient rehab that is for everyone.
For example, there are rehab centers that provide programs specifically for the following groups:
The Cost of Rehab
How much does drug rehab cost?
Depending on the program, rehab can be free or as much as $30,000+ per month.
Pricing depends on the program, services, and amenities offered. Typically, outpatient programs are cheaper than inpatient, and live-in inpatient facilities are the most expensive, costing anywhere from $6,000 to $30,000 or more per month (for the luxury centers).
In the middle are outpatient treatment centers that can provide multiple hours of services per day. They usually cost somewhere between $3,000-$10,000 for a three-month program. However, with insurance, some types of rehab and individual therapy with a counselor can be very affordable, only requiring a co-pay. Another affordable option is group therapy through non-profits or secular organizations like AA or NA, which is free.
Are there any free drug rehabs?
There are free options like 12-step programs, and individuals can access counseling at very little out-of-pocket cost if their insurance covers it.
Free rehab options include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other types of peer-support groups. Other more affordable options include individual counseling with a certified therapist who has substance use disorder (SUD) experience. You can find out if therapy is covered by your insurance by calling them or looking at your insurance plan.
Some insurance providers will cover other parts of rehab like detoxification, but the majority will not pay for room and board at inpatient treatment centers, which accounts for much of the price at those programs.
Some rehabs offer payment assistance such as sliding-scale fees and scholarships.
What will my insurance cover?
All insurance through the Affordable Care Act is required to cover substance abuse services, but they don’t always cover inpatient treatment centers.
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance to cover certain measures like screening for substance use disorder or addiction, detoxification, and therapy; however, you need to make sure the rehab or counselor you go to is in your network. Likewise, some insurers may require that you receive a screening before getting other services. Call them to verify what information they need before starting a program.
While insurance should cover at least some of your rehab treatment, many insurers do not pay for inpatient treatment centers because much of their cost is for room and board, which insurance is not required to cover.
What do I do if I don’t have insurance for drug rehab?
Affordable rehab is still available to those who don’t have insurance and can often be paid for with payment plans and scholarships.
If you do not have insurance, finding a low-cost or free rehab option should be your main priority. Affordable options include individual counseling with a certified therapist who has substance use disorder (SUD) experience.
While inpatient rehab is the most expensive option, some rehab centers offer payment plans and scholarships. Likewise, state-funded facilities offer sliding-scale (or income-based) fees for those with limited income, and some even offer payment assistance for qualified applicants with demonstrated financial need.
Use the “low-cost filter” in our Directory tool to browse all the state-recognized substance abuse treatment organizations that offer both sliding-scale fees and payment assistance – these centers represent the highest quality treatment at the lowest cost for anyone currently struggling with addiction.
Does Medicaid pay for rehab?
Through the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid is supposed to cover rehab, but they may not cover some inpatient treatment centers.
Medicaid and Medicare fall under the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance to cover certain measures like screening for substance use disorder or addiction, detoxification, and therapy. However, you need to make sure the rehab or counselor you go to is in your network, which you can find out by contacting your insurance provider. Likewise, some insurers may require that you receive a screening before getting other services. Call your insurer to verify what information they need before you start a program.
While insurance should cover at least some of your rehab treatment, many insurers do not cover inpatient treatment centers because much of their cost is for room and board, which insurance is not required to cover. If you want to go to an inpatient rehab, some centers offer payment plans and scholarships, which you can ask them about by calling or emailing.
Can I get off work to go to treatment?
There is a possibility that you can get time off work to go to rehab, but you will likely not get paid during that time unless you use vacation or sick time.
There are two possible options for those needing to go to rehab: the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Employee Assistance Programs.
- FMLA is available once every 12 months to qualified employees. With FMLA, the employee can take up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave from work for medical or family reasons. Rehab would qualify as a medical reason.
- Employee Assistance Programs are offered by some employers to allow their employees get the help they need for personal issues, which could include getting counseling or referrals to a rehab program.
To learn more about rehab programs that will not conflict with your work schedule, read about Outpatient Rehab in our guide.
Can I get fired for entering drug rehab?
Assuming you talked to your boss beforehand and took the necessary steps to get time off, you cannot get fired for entering drug rehab.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), if you tell your boss that you plan to enter drug rehab, or give them other confidential information about your condition, they must maintain confidentiality and cannot fire you for sharing that information according to FMLA. If they do fire you and violate that confidentiality, there may be legal recourse; however, not every employee and every employer is covered by FMLA. See the FMLA guidelines and eligibility requirements here.
An important exception is if you are under the influence of drugs while working or have drugs in your system after a mandatory drug test that would be grounds for getting fired. Likewise, it is important to talk to your boss and clear time off for rehab beforehand, as leaving work unexpectedly could also get you fired.
How is drug addiction treated?
Drug addiction is treated with behavioral therapy and, sometimes, medication during a four-step process.
Addiction treatment can be broken into four stages:
- Assessment: This stage’s goal is to tailor a treatment plan for the individual patient based on type, length, and severity of his or her addiction, and any unique challenges that they face (such as co-occurring mental disorders or domestic abuse).
- Detoxification: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is the process of “allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.” There are two basic approaches to detox: Medications can be prescribed that can gradually wean the body of the substance, or the “natural” approach can be used (quitting “cold-turkey”).
- Therapy: This aspect of treatment can take many forms, but the idea here is to identify and treat the underlying physiological or behavioral issues that cause the person to use drugs – one-on-one therapy, group counseling, and mental health treatment are all examples.
- Aftercare: To avoid relapse, successful substance abuse treatment must include a plan to help the individual maintain sobriety after they leave the treatment center. Examples of aftercare include joining 12-step programs, AA alternatives, sober living homes, and ongoing counseling. (DEV NOTE: link to our AA Alternatives and Transitional Housing page).
What’s the difference between individual and group therapy?
Therapists guide individual therapy, giving patients more time to speak compared to group therapy where everyone shares and learns from each other.
Individual therapy and group therapy both use similar therapy techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but how they implement the goals of those therapies are different. In individual therapy, the strategies employed and the conversation itself is more one-sided, with the therapist guiding the conversation or the patient talking, whereas, in group therapy, everyone in the group is contributing and learning from each other, albeit in a facilitator-guided atmosphere.
Individual therapy may be best for people struggling with a specific trauma that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with other individuals. Group therapy, on the other hand, is good for those who want to practice strategies with others, which is more similar to the real world and everyday life.
For the most part, rehab programs use a mixture of both individual and group therapy, but most free 12-step programs or alternatives solely use group therapy.
What is group therapy like?
Group therapy provides a safe space to share frustrations, achievements, and learn more about your addiction by talking with others.
Group therapy for substance abuse usually happens in rehab programs and 12-step programs like AA or NA. Sessions consist of one or more therapists or facilitators and a group of 3-12 people, sometimes more for 12-step programs. Group therapy can focus on different skills, but typically it encourages those in the group to see that they are not alone, it gives them hope, it teaches them coping skills, and it provides an accepting and open atmosphere.
Group therapy also allows everyone to participate and talk in more engaging ways than the one-sided conversations typical of individual therapy. It also is usually more affordable and builds skills necessary for life after rehab such as talking with others, working through issues in group settings, or practicing coping strategies in real time.
Is there medicine to help me get over my addiction?
Medication is available to help detox from certain drugs and to aid in treatment of drugs like heroin or alcohol.
Medication is used during the detox phase of rehab for many drugs, and in the therapy phase for certain drugs such as alcohol and heroin. Medication used in cases of opioid addiction is called Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
Common medications include:
Additionally, there are drugs used to help with the side effects of withdrawal such as depression and anxiety.
What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment?
Inpatient means the patient stays in a facility overnight, while outpatient means they attend therapy for part of the day but return home at night.
Inpatient treatment requires patients to live in the facility (usually full-time), while outpatient centers are typically more flexible and do not include overnight services. Each treatment option offers a different approach and has a different ability to meet addicts’ needs.
One variance is with partial hospitalization. Unlike full hospitalization, partial hospitalization services are not overnight. However, partial hospitalization is still considered “inpatient” because of the extensive nature of their services and the nearly full-time commitment.
What is inpatient addiction treatment like?
Inpatient treatment provides all services, housing, and meals in one place.
Inpatient treatment includes room and board, meaning they provide each of your meals as well as a room that you either have to yourself or share with others depending on the luxuriousness of the facility and program. Inpatient facilities also have in-house therapists, counselors, and other personnel to administer medications and monitor those living in the facility.
One important aspect of inpatient care is that it is the most expensive option because it provides room and board, sometimes costing up to $30,000 per month. Likewise, some question if it is significantly more effective than other treatment methods, encouraging individuals with a slight or early-stage substance use disorder to seek out other, more affordable options before going to an intensive program.
What is outpatient addiction treatment like?
Outpatient treatment provides therapy and (sometimes) medical services, but patients go home after treatment.
Outpatient care occurs in many different settings because it includes all rehab programs that do not provide overnight care. Outpatient programs include:
- Intensive Day Treatment: Patients receive the extensive services of an inpatient program but return home after. After completion, patients often transition to less intensive counseling. Medical treatment is also available to those who qualify.
- Counseling: Both individual counseling and group counseling focus on short-term behavioral goals to develop coping strategies. However, medical treatment and medications are not available.
- Support Groups: Support groups include 12 step programs like AA. They are typically used to start or maintain abstinence. They usually meet one day a week for 1-2 hours.
Are there any alternatives or holistic medicine for rehab?
Yes, there are alternatives such as acupuncture and meditation that employ different techniques than traditional treatment programs.
Holistic rehab programs operate under the assumption that a person’s entire self must heal to stop substance abuse permanently. To help individuals heal, many holistic programs will include various complementary treatments like acupuncture, massage therapy, reiki, and neurofeedback among others.
While many of these treatments are very popular right now, particularly in luxury rehabs, there currently is little scientific evidence to back these therapies and demonstrate they have a positive impact on those going through rehab.
Living in a Treatment Center
What is living in a treatment center like?
Treatment centers are highly-structured facilities with planned activities and services each day.
Typically, living in a treatment center provides less privacy than living at home or in a sober living house, but the benefit is that each person is held accountable each day. Meals are provided, and the days are structured with group therapy, activities, watching informational videos, and individual counseling at some locations.
What are the living accommodations like?
Depending on the price of the facility, patients can typically expect to either stay in a room with a handful of other people or have their own suite.
Treatment centers’ living accommodations vary based on the center and the price of the program. In some circumstances, patients will have a bedroom with their own bed, dresser, and small space that they share with multiple other people. The more expensive, luxury options offer private rooms and living areas. Likewise, the quality and food offered is based on the price of the center.
Is smoking allowed at treatment centers?
Smoking is allowed at some treatment centers, but it depends on the location.
Rehab centers treat many drug addictions, sometimes working with people who are struggling to stop multiple addictions at the same time, which is why treatment centers do not allow alcohol, drugs, or drug paraphernalia at their facility. Cigarettes fall into the middle-ground, with some centers banning them for their trigger factor to other residents and others allowing them.
What should I bring to rehab?
Most rehabs encourage patients to bring only the bare necessities.
Many treatment centers encourage patients to bring the following items:
- 7 days of casual clothing
- Money (cash or credit card) for copayment or vending machines
- Current prescribed medications; some locations require them to be unopened
- All over-the-counter medications must be unopened
- Alarm clock
- Cell Phone (or long-distance calling cards if your facility doesn’t allow cell phones)
- Hygiene items like toothbrushes, shaving razors (sometimes not allowed for teens), shaving cream, etc.
Is anything not allowed at rehab?
The main items not allowed are drugs, alcohol, drug paraphernalia, and food or drink.
To create a safe-environment with the fewest triggers possible, many treatment centers do not allow the following items inside their facility:
- Alcohol or drugs
- Cell phones, laptops, or other communication devices (to prevent patients from getting distracted or contacting previous drug contacts; if they do allow them, there is usually limited access)
- Food, drink, and other liquids (since they could contain alcohol or other drugs)
- Inappropriate clothing (with curse words or that does not fully cover the body like crop tops)
- Herbal products and supplemental vitamins
Can I have visitors at rehab?
Most facilities will not allow visitors early in treatment but will after the initial period.
Many treatment centers will not allow visitors initially because it is important for the patient to bond with their group members and therapists. Also, seeing loved-ones can cause undue stress to a patient who is just starting the process. After the initial period of treatment, many centers allow visitors during visiting hours and have designated spaces for the patient to visit with loved ones. After the patient has progressed, some treatment centers also allow patients to leave the center for short periods of time.