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Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment - Inpatient Drug Treatment

Inpatient Drug Treatment: What is it?

inpatient drug rehab


Inpatient treatment is a type of drug treatment program where you stay at the facility while you go through treatment. Every element of the rehab is done on the site of the treatment center and you stay 24 hours a day until the treatment is completed. While not as many people choose to do inpatient treatment compared to outpatient, as was stated before, this is an excellent option for people who want a controlled environment that is completely different from where they are used to. 




Inpatient treatment programs also have staff taking care of you as you detox and are treated, rather than friends or family members. It is important to have your family a part of your rehabilitation. However, on a day-to-day basis, depending on your personal circumstances, it may be a better option to go through treatment in the care of professionals.


Inpatient Treatment: Who needs it?


inpatient drug rehab


When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, there is both a psychological and physical dependency created by the drug’s chemicals that keep you wanting the drug. Even when you have gone through detoxification and no longer have the drug in your system, there can still be a strong psychological connection to the drug because there may be signals in your environment that give you flash backs to the habits in your life that lead you to use. These signals are called “triggers.”


  The term “trigger” indicates the sights, smells, people, and habits that instantly spark (or trigger) a feeling within you. Triggers create a chemical reaction in your brain that makes you feel like, “I want to use.” This psychological component of addiction is based on a variety of things, mainly controlled by your surroundings. Therefore, to treat the psychological part of your addiction, you need to monitor what these triggers are and learn how to control your actions when these triggers happen.


Considering the physical and psychological nature of addiction, when looking at types of drug treatment, it is important to consider what type of environment you need in order to focus on sobriety, away from the triggers that make you want to get high. Ultimately, in the first stages of your treatment and getting sober, you want to eliminate as many temptations to use as possible. If you are in an environment that has many triggers and temptations this may indicate that inpatient treatment would be best for you.


Types of Inpatient Treatment


How long does inpatient treatment last?


Inpatient programs can last anywhere between three and six weeks. The NIDA has found that at least 90 days of intense treatment shows results of stable behavior change. Programs that are less than 90 days are 6% to 34% less effective.1


Short-term inpatient treatment


The purpose of short-term inpatient treatment is to medically treat the patient, get him/her stable, and begin the basic tenants of psychiatric treatment using therapy and skills development. It is vitally important to have a period of time where the patient can focus on detox and begin to build a solid, manageable life without substance abuse.


Short-term inpatient treatments are typically 30 days. It often takes more than 30 days to have a solid base of recovery and properly developed skills to go back into the real world. Long-term inpatient treatment is often the way to get stronger and build up a longer time sobriety.


Long-term inpatient treatment


Long-term inpatient treatment typically lasts 60-90 days. 90 days is the time frame that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found adequately prepares an addict to stay clean and sober for a significant amount of time. Long-term inpatient treatment is the optimal in terms of getting prepared to kick the habit for good. However, the pricing of these treatments is often a barrier. Do not let this stop you. Many treatment centers have financing and payment plans available. In a long-term facility, centers often have job preparation courses that prepare you to get a job and often help you find a job if needed. By going into long-term inpatient treatment, you will be able to get a job and pay the tuition in no time.


What happens in drug and alcohol inpatient treatment?


inpatient drug rehab



Each program has its own specific set of steps that its uses for your rehabilitation and treatment plan. However, there are several general steps that are common in treatment centers.  


It is important to remember that you and your issues are unique and, while there should be a certain amount of trust that the certified people in the treatment center know what they are doing, take your treatment into your own hands by being knowledgeable about your addiction and what you need to recover.


Step 1: Medical & Psycho-social Assessment


In order to know whether or not you will need medical treatment or if you have co-occurring disorders, a treatment center will ask you several questions and do some medical tests to understand where you are coming from and your issues and addiction.


It is important to cooperate and not be ashamed of being honest with the person assessing you. Answer his/her questions with as much openness and information as possible. This is good for your treatment plan, because it will be made to meet more of your needs, and for you. This assessment begins your treatment and recovery!


Step 2: Detox


Detoxification is when you stop taking the substance of addiction for a long enough period of time that your body can get out the drug’s chemicals.


The detox period can take up to 90 days because it is a process that comes in stages. The first 7 days of detox are often the worst because of the withdrawal symptoms. The next 7 days are easier because your body begins to heal. However, you may still feel depressed, lacking emotions, or tired, because you brain takes longer than your body to recover its dopamine making capabilities. Risk of relapse is strongest within the first 30 days. 90 days of sobriety is considered to be a full detoxification because of the different transitions that you body goes through. As was stated earlier, the NIDA has found that people who go through 90 days of treatment have higher success rates of sobriety than those who have gone through less than 90 days of treatment.


*An inpatient alcohol treatment or inpatient drug treatment may be best for a person going through detox. Professionals offer many different types of support while you are going through detox as they supervise inpatient treatment.


*When you go through a drug or alcohol detox, you feel horrible. There can be very painful and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. It is important to have support while you are going through a detox, especially if it is your first time. This is one reason why inpatient treatment might be best. Because you are in the care of the treatment center, they are able to help and support you through the detox. Also, you do not have to worry about providing the various amenities that you will need. The treatment center will provide them for you.


Step 3: Counseling, Therapy & Group Work


After you have gone through the physical detox of drug or alcohol’s chemicals from you body, you then deal with your mind and emotions.


Treatment centers have many different types of therapy, counseling, one-on-one, group, and family sessions that deal with your addiction on a psychological level. This process may be as uncomfortable as the physical detox, but in a different way. However, it is important to remember that each step builds on each other. The more work you do on yourself, over the long term, the easier it will be to stay clean and on a road to long-term sobriety and recovery. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but it will be healthy.


Other types of treatment given during this step include: small groups, work on boundaries, how to identify safe people, topic classes, educational videos and exercises, recreational and art, spirituality counseling, nutritional consultation, holistic approaches like, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, and 12-Step recovery. 


Stage 4: Transition



Transition into the real world after treatment can be a very difficult process if you are not adequately prepared. One stage that may be provided for you in inpatient treatment is education that helps you in this transition.




1) “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: What Works with Offenders.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse. Date downloaded: July 6, 2010.