What Happens In Rehab?

Those who find themselves either struggling with addiction or worrying about a loved one who is dealing with substance abuse may be curious about what exactly goes on inside a typical day in alcohol rehab.

The short answer is that it depends. Many different types of rehabs offer many different treatment options, methods, philosophies, and itineraries. With that in mind, there are a few commonalities when it comes to alcohol rehab. Although a day in rehab depends on the facility and individual’s treatment plan, there are similar patterns in what one may encounter during their rehab experience, and what an average day on the road to recovery might look like.

A Typical Day In Alcohol Rehab: A Tight Schedule

One of the first things that individuals working to achieve sobriety notice is that, without alcohol, they’re gifted an abundance of free time. The time spent acquiring alcohol, drinking, being drunk, and recovering from drinking is now suddenly available and one might be surprised at just how much time was previously spent on addiction.

Rehabs know one of the best ways to bring order and structure to a chaotic life is by implementing a fairly rigid schedule that encourages patients to stay busy and stay healthy. Expect to wake up early for a day that could be full of group sessions, individual therapy, healthy meals, arts and crafts, time spent outside or in the gym, time to practice mindfulness and relaxation, and time for bathing and personal hygiene. While at first so much activity may seem overwhelming, many in recovery report that a sense of structure boosts their energy and self-esteem.

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Patients bring whatever medications they’re currently taking with them to rehab. Once admitted, however, they may be given the chance to speak with a psychiatrist and potentially be prescribed additional medications to help them in their recovery. Typically medications are administered in the morning and at night. Below are just a few medications someone struggling with alcohol addiction may be prescribed in rehab.

  • Naltrexone: This medicine stops the feeling of pleasure released in the brain after a drink of alcohol is taken. It can help reduce relapse in patients who have already gone through detoxification.
  • Acamprosate: This medication is prescribed to reduce a patient’s desire to drink alcohol.
  • Disulfiram: Some patients may receive this medication, which can help discourage alcohol abuse by causing unpleasant physical symptoms like dizziness, flushing, and anxiety.


Perhaps one of the most important parts of rehab is therapy. It can take may different forms. During a typical day in alcohol rehab a patient may meet with a therapist one-on-one in order to discuss their progress, their concerns, their symptoms, and their goals. Patients may also meet together in group therapy, which can be a powerful way for a like-minded tribe of addicts to recover collaboratively by sharing personal stories, coping strategies, small victories, or even jokes.

Friendship and social connection is a key part of building a healthy sober lifestyle, and group therapy can go a long way toward providing that crucial element in a rehab environment. Some rehabs may also offer family therapy, holistic therapy, or even adventure therapy. This could include hiking, navigating an obstacle course, and other teamwork activities that involve building bonds with others.

No matter what type of treatment is offered, the end goal will be to foster better mental and emotional health, deeper connections with oneself and one’s peers, and a greater understanding of how to manage the challenges of a sober life going forward.

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Physical Fitness

The relationship between physical exercise and sobriety is well-documented. That’s why a typical day in alcohol rehab may include yoga, access to a gym or workout equipment, or an outdoor area for walking or jogging.

Much like the right medication, the endorphins released from exercise may help ease the discomfort an individual in recovery could be feeling. It’s also a surefire way to regulate mood, improve physical health, and help adjust to a new sleep schedule; all key parts of moving forward into a successful sober life outside of rehab.

Starting Your Rehab Journey

Structure, medication, therapy, exercise, and recovery. Those are just some of the core elements of a rehab experience, and millions of people can attest to how well they work to support a sober lifestyle long after one leaves the doors of a treatment center.

There’s no reason you or a loved one can’t see the same success as so many others have through rehab. To learn more, contact a treatment provider right away.

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If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, reach out today. Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober.