Inpatient Rehab Guide

A Guide to Inpatient Drug Rehabilitation

According to a World Drug Report, over 35 million people struggle with substance use disorder. Most teens start using drugs out of curiosity or due to peer pressure. People with mental health issues also take drugs to mask uncomfortable feelings. For others, addiction starts when they misuse prescription drugs.

When you use a certain substance for a prolonged period, it alters your brain chemistry. The brain releases dopamine that gives you temporary euphoria. Your body gets used to these feelings of pleasure, and you crave more of the substance. With time, you lose control over the drug and can no longer function properly without it.

The good news is you can overcome addiction despite the severity of your condition, provided that you get the right treatment plan. Based on the intensity of your addiction, your doctor may recommend that you opt for an inpatient program. Here is everything you need to know about this treatment plan.

What Is Inpatient Rehab?

An inpatient program is a type of drug use disorder treatment whereby the client moves into the treatment facility to receive a high level of care. The main goal of this treatment plan is to take the client out of temptations and influence-filled daily lives and put them in a safe environment that supports recovery.

While living at the treatment center, you must comply with strict rules to keep you and other residents safe as you work on recovery. Since addiction has different causes, the treatment approach varies from one client to another. This also affects the length of treatment. The inpatient treatment program may take from 30 to 90 days.

Thirty-day inpatient treatment program suits people looking for motivation to start the recovery journey. This short-term commitment helps ease your fears so you can join a more solid treatment plan. Alternatively, you can opt for 60 days of treatment if you have a mild to moderate addiction case. For those with a long-standing addiction, opt for the 90 days plan, so you have enough time to work through the causes of addiction and get empowered to lead a sober life. Some of the factors that affect the length of your stay include:


People above 60 years will need more time to clear off the drug’s toxins from their bodies. They also undergo multiple withdrawal symptoms, which can be life-threatening if they lack professional supervision. Older people, therefore, require a longer treatment plan than the young.

Mental Health

If you have a co-occurring mental health issue that pushes you to use drugs, you will also need a personalized treatment plan to address this issue. You will undergo different counseling sessions, which require a longer time.

Types of Substances Used

People who abuse different types of drugs will need a longer treatment period than those addicted to a single substance. About 15% of people struggling with alcohol addiction have a co-occurring substance use disorder. When someone mixes substances, it intensifies each drug’s effects, resulting in a stronger addiction that will need more time to treat.

Understanding the Difference Between Inpatient an Residential Treatment

The main difference between inpatient and residential rehab is the settings in which treatment occurs. Inpatient rehabilitation takes place in a hospital or treatment facility, while residential programs take place in a more comfortable, home-like environment. Doctors check on the clients regularly for the residential treatment but not every day like in an inpatient program.

Inpatient treatment is mostly short-term, but residential treatment is ongoing based on how the client responds to treatment. Both treatments are very important depending on where you are in recovery. An inpatient program is vital in your initial treatment process, and residential rehabilitation is an excellent option for follow-up treatment.

Who Are the Best Candidates for an Inpatient Rehab Program?

You are the right candidate for inpatient rehabilitation if you struggle with severe substance use disorder. This treatment program puts you in a space where you can focus entirely on getting sober. Opt for inpatient treatment if you have abused drugs severely for a long period. Such a person requires an intensive, coordinated treatment plan to recover. Inpatient treatment is also an excellent solution for people who need medical stabilization even after detox. Such people need prescription medications, and if not supervised, they can easily misuse the drugs, worsening the situation.

Consider an inpatient program if you have tried to get sober for quite some time and keep relapsing. The frustrations of failed recovery can cause depression and suicidal thoughts, so you need professional assistance and close monitoring. Join an inpatient program if you have tried the other treatment programs but still struggle to stay sober.

Co-occurring disorders complicate the recovery process and require special treatment. An inpatient program consists of personalized treatment plans that address any underlying mental health issues. Clients with other health issues like liver, heart, or respiratory illness should also consider inpatient treatment. If any part of addiction treatment interferes with these conditions, it can be fatal, so you need close monitoring so the doctors can make the necessary adjustments in time.

Benefits of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care offers a supportive environment to recover. You will have daily access to experienced medical staff and counselors. Clients who seek inpatient treatment recover faster than those at home. You will also undergo an educative program to gain skills to sustain yourself after treatment. The rehab centers offer maximum privacy to the clients.

While in rehab, you will have a chance to cultivate meaningful relationships with people who understand your situation better. Rehab facilities have well-planned daily routines to keep your mind occupied and leave no room for drug use. Even after completing the rehab session, you will receive aftercare services to help you achieve long-term sobriety. The success rate for long-term residential rehabilitation ranges from 68% to 71% based on a study.

Preparing for Treatment

Proper preparations before joining a rehab facility can make the process easier. Note that unfulfilled obligations can be very distracting when undergoing treatment. At work, arrange to take vacation days, sick days, or unpaid leave. Call your insurance company to see what they can cover so you can plan your finances.

Discuss the issue with your family, and if you have children, arrange for them to have appropriate care. Get a pet sitter and have someone collect your emails on your behalf. You can set up automatic payments for your bills for the period you will be in rehab. Remember to pack your ID, insurance cards, important contacts, and any prescription medicine you take. Carry your grooming and hygiene products and a journal to keep yourself occupied while in rehab.

What Does Inpatient Treatment Entail?

Once you get to the rehab center, a professional will admit you. Expect an inspection to ensure that you don’t bring in prohibited items. A professional will then conduct a comprehensive medical analysis to understand your condition. They will want to know about your drug use history, type of substances used, and any other co-occurring issue. Expect some screening and health tests too. This will guide them in developing the right treatment plan for your needs. After settling down, you proceed with the following treatment processes.


Clients in inpatient rehabilitation undergo supervised medical detoxification to flush the drug chemicals out of their system. This process often results in withdrawal symptoms such as:

• Fatigue
• Nausea
• Headache
• Diarrhea
• Insomnia
• Muscle pain

You will receive support, motivation, and medication to ease the withdrawal symptoms while going through this phase.


After detox, you proceed to therapy to address the psychological aspects of drug addiction. You will have one-on-one sessions with your counselor, joint meetings with your colleagues, and family therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps clients understand how their feelings, emotions, and behavior contributes to substance use. They learn how to stay aware of their actions to avoid cravings and prevent relapse. On the other hand, motivational interviewing aims to strengthen the client’s motivation and commitment to work on recovery.

Contingency management is another treatment approach with high effectiveness in treating drug addiction. This is a behavioral modification therapy where clients receive incentives when they achieve certain goals like passing a drug test. It helps reinforce positive behaviors like drug abstinence. Through dialectical behavioral therapy, clients learn interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

A Typical Day in an Inpatient Drug Rehab

Some people are reluctant to seek addiction treatment due to misinformation. When clients imagine going to rehab, they visualize an isolated facility in remote regions. However, these are supportive institutions with a structured schedule to help minimize triggers and encourage abstinence. Although activities may vary from one facility to another, a typical day in an inpatient rehabilitation may look like this:


The treatment facility requires the client to wake up at a specific time. A nurse may check to ensure that everyone is up and do a progress check. You will then have a healthy breakfast that fuels your body for the day’s activities. The nurses administer medication, and the clients dress for the day. The morning routine may include mindfulness exercises like meditation and yoga to achieve a relaxed mind. There are also some chores divided up among the clients to prepare them for the realities of life after treatment. You attend educational meetings that cover addiction, treatment, and recovery topics. From here, people break for lunch.


After a healthy meal, the clients go for an individual counseling session to address personal issues with the therapist. You will learn how to manage stress, handle mental health issues, and adapt to a life without drugs. Most facilities also offer group therapies in the mid-mornings. In these sessions, the clients discuss their problems and share coping strategies. This session works on improving relationships and communication skills.

Other special therapy sessions include arts, music, and dance. You will get some personal time to enjoy therapeutic activities like gardening, swimming, saunas, or massage in the afternoons. You can also read a book or fill in your journal at this time. This is also the time to complete any assigned homework in your groups. Some facilities have fitness centers where you can work out under the supervision of a qualified trainer. Keep in mind that people who regularly exercise are less likely to abuse drugs. Workouts stimulate the production of endorphins, allowing you to derive pleasure from healthier habits. This lowers drug cravings.


You eat dinner at a specific time each night and then head for a shorter group meeting to assess your day’s progress and achievements. This is also when you participate in support group meetings. You may also have more free time to watch TV or socialize in the evening. The lights go off at a particular time to help you maintain a regular sleep schedule to allow your body to rest, stabilize, and heal.

Continued Support With Aftercare Programs

Towards the end of your inpatient program, you will discuss an aftercare plan with your therapist to reduce the risk of relapse. They may advise that you step down to an outpatient program where you visit the rehab facility a few hours a day for treatment and later head home. It’s important that you join the facility’s alumni program to get the proper support as you transition back into sobriety.

Continue attending support group meetings since they create a judgmental-free space where you can freely talk about your hardships and receive the right kind of advice. Go to a sober living home if your home environment is filled with triggers. You will live with like-minded people, and you have the freedom to look for work and enjoy hobbies.

Find Treatment Near You and Regain Freedom From Addiction

If you are struggling with substance use disorder, always know that help is within reach. You will surely overcome addiction with the right mindset, commitment, support, and professional assistance. The best way to help a person struggling with substance use disorder is to intervene early before the problem grows bigger.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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