Drug rehab and treatment includes ways to address the highly complex problem of addiction. Learn about drug and alcohol rehab as well as the many options to choose from.

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation, or drug rehab treatment, is the starting point for meaningful and long-lasting recovery from addiction to substances or addictive behaviors.

Article at a Glance:

  • The drug rehab process involves several phases: assessment, detox, rehab, and aftercare.
  • Rehab options are detox, inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient program, outpatient, and long-term drug rehab.
  • The cost of rehab is far less than the cost of living with a substance use disorder.
  • Rehab programs can last for between seven days and 12 months.
  • The Recovery Village makes it easy to find a drug rehab center near you.

Substance abuse is a complex disorder that affects individuals physically, mentally, socially, biologically and spiritually. As such, treatment of such a complex, all-encompassing disorder must be equally all-encompassing. Simply treating the biological dependence is not enough because the underlying causes and effects of the addiction will remain.so

Holistic, comprehensive treatment is the underlying basis for the current approach to treating substance addiction, known as the “biopsychosocial” approach. This involves addressing the whole person to ensure that all of the underlying causes and effects of the addiction are properly cared for and corrected. This gives individuals the tools they need for a full return to a happy, healthy, substance-free life.

What Is Drug Addiction Treatment?

Drug addiction “treatment” is a bit of a misleading term — it implies that people with addictions are “all better” after they have received some form of treatment. Really, recovery from addiction is a lifelong commitment that requires ongoing attention and care. Even people with years of successful recovery must remain mindful of their potential for relapse, and they must use the tools they learned in treatment to prevent it.

The word “rehabilitation” also implies that someone is being corrected after misbehaving, which is consistent with society’s stigma about addiction. Part of the recovery process is for people with addictions, and their families, to learn that addiction is a matter of biology and not morality.

So, what is drug rehab? Drug addiction rehab or treatment is the process where people with addictions:

Remove their body from the substance and remove the body’s need for the drug

  • Wash out the drugs and their toxic metabolites from their body
  • Recover from the physical devastation of addiction
  • Move from the extreme negative psychology of active addiction to the positive psychology of recovery
  • Recover normal, healthy social practices
  • Learn to handle life and its stressors without using substances or behaviors to cope
  • Come to understand that recovery is a lifelong commitment to abstinence
  • Become ready to take on the recovery activities that are necessary to maintain lifelong recovery

The Drug Rehabilitation Process

The drug rehabilitation process occurs in a few phases. After all, transitioning from physical and mental addiction to a healthy and happy way of living is a big change.

It is important that the steps to drug rehabilitation be properly addressed during the drug rehabilitation process. There are four stages of addiction recovery:

1. Assessment

Addiction assessment is an especially critical part of the rehab process. People with substance addictions are highly secretive. This is part of the underlying psychology of addiction, and it reinforced by fears of arrest for possession and judgment from family and friends.

The assessment process requires gaining trust and breaking through that secretive nature. The individual needs to identify which substances were used and the extent of their substance use. Healthcare assessments at The Recovery Village are conducted over the phone by an assigned intake coordinator and should only take about 15-30 minutes, depending on current substance use and medical history.

More than half of people with substance addictions have an underlying mental health disorder. Substance use and mental health disorders are closely tied together, and each can cause and perpetuate the other. As such, it is crucial to identify any co-occurring mental health disorders and treat these at the same time as the addiction. Otherwise, the chances of success in recovery are greatly decreased.

2. Detox

To recover from substance use, people must first go through the process of ridding the body of the substances and their toxic metabolites. This process is known as detoxification, or detox. As the body clears the substances, the unpleasant experience of withdrawal occurs.

The detox from alcohol use can be dangerous, even life-threatening. People who regularly use alcohol should consult a physician or participate in a medically supervised detox program before stopping.

For many people with addictions, fear of withdrawal is a major barrier to escaping their addiction, and that fear keeps them from even trying. Fortunately, withdrawal and drug detox do not have to be a terrible experience. By participating in a medical detox program, people can get through the experience safely and comfortably.

3. Rehab

The rehab process is the biggest part of an addiction treatment program. This is where the underlying causes of addiction are addressed. For most people with substance addiction, their substance use is no longer about getting high. Instead, it became a repetitive, daily process of avoiding withdrawal symptoms and escaping from their reality. Drug rehab is the process where the deep issues around the addiction are identified and addressed.

This is accomplished in a number of ways:

4. Aftercare

Regardless of the length or intensity of the rehab program, nobody walks out of rehab “cured” of addiction. Rather, it can be said that rehab is the process of discovery, while what happens afterward is recovery.

The addicted mind often begins to believe – especially after a period of time in abstinence – that it is OK to try drinking or using substances again. However, this seldom works, and the vast majority of people who try drinking or using drugs again will quickly end up where they were before. Research data confirms this, as well as the fact that people are at an especially high risk of overdose during a relapse.

A common problem among rehab programs is that there is no sustainable plan for ongoing recovery support after discharge. There may be weekly drug rehab aftercare programs, but many people have to travel a considerable distance to attend these, and attendance tends to drop off over time.

Ongoing participation in a recovery program, such as a 12-step program or SMART Recovery, is crucial for ongoing recovery. Rehab programs that introduce people to these aftercare programs are more effective at ensuring participation in ongoing recovery activities after discharge.

Sober living houses are an especially effective approach to aftercare when an individual is discharged from rehab. People and their families should discuss these options with their counselors while still in rehab.

Types of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Programs

There are different types of treatment for addiction, based on the level of care provided. When choosing the level of treatment, the choice should be based on what will offer the individual the best chance of success in recovery — not on what the individual wants to do.

Addiction is characterized by a pathological need for control, a tendency to rationalize bad decisions and a lack of insight. This is a bad combination, as it propels many people to believe that they can stop using drugs or drinking on their own. As such, they may be reluctant to see and admit that they require a higher level of care, such as inpatient rehab.


Detoxification from a substance is not the same as treatment for substance addiction. It is merely a process that helps people through withdrawal symptoms while their body purges itself of toxic substances and adjusts to their absence.

During the process of drug detox, people’s minds are muddled and they feel physically and mentally sick. They are not receptive to any kind of counseling or therapy until their minds clear and they are feeling better. Even though medical detox makes the process much easier, it is best to first focus on getting through the entire detox process before taking further steps.


Inpatient drug rehab involves staying at a hospital or rehab facility during the entire time of the treatment, with 24-hour supervision. The therapy is more intense than residential rehab and may be involuntary or on an emergency basis.

Inpatient treatment has benefits that improve the transformative effect necessary for recovery by:

  • Preventing triggers and removing the individual from the people, places and things that were associated with the substance use
  • Removing the person from any toxic relationships or environments
  • Allowing for a more intensive, committed treatment regimen
  • Providing a social environment, or a “culture of recovery”
  • Ensuring that the individual has some solid recovery time before they are discharged

Inpatient rehab also allows individuals to access drug rehab services, including recreational therapy and recovery-focused social activities.

Related Topic: How long is inpatient rehab?


Residential addiction treatment is the mainstay of treatment for most individuals. Like inpatient therapy, residential treatment offers the therapeutic effect of removing people from their dysfunctional lifestyle and environment and placing them in safe, healthy surroundings. This allows them to reorient their lives and thought processes while focusing on distraction-free recovery.

Residential rehab differs from inpatient rehab in that it is done in a facility outside of the hospital system and usually involves a longer stay. The program is generally less intense than an inpatient program and gives participants a little more independence.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

partial hospitalization program is halfway between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Individuals receive therapeutic services on-site during the day, but go home or to a sober living facility at night.

This program is appropriate for people who have a high expectation of success as well as the ability and insight to be more self-directed in their routine. The presence of a strong support system is also a requirement.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An intensive outpatient program is a “step-down” treatment program, usually meant for people who have completed an inpatient or partial hospitalization program. This allows people to transition from an inpatient stay to community living while maintaining directed therapy, such as group or individual counseling and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.

Individuals in IOP live in an independent supportive environment — at home or at a sober living house — and attend daily treatment sessions.


Outpatient treatment involves living at home and attending treatment activities at an outpatient rehab facility during the day. The intensity of the daytime treatment will depend on individual needs and the programs available at the outpatient facility.

Most people with serious addiction will likely have better outcomes in inpatient treatment and rehab. However, outpatient drug rehab may be appropriate if:

  • The person’s physician is aware of the drug use and agrees with the outpatient treatment
  • The individual is already detoxed from the drug and is free of withdrawal effects
  • The drug use was mild or of short duration
  • The person has a safe, drug-free place to stay away from dealers and others who use substances
  • The person is strongly motivated to stop using
  • There is no co-occurring substance use or mental health disorder
  • There is a good support system in place, including people who know to watch for dangerous withdrawal symptoms
  • The person does not live alone

Long-Term Drug Rehab

Long-term drug rehab is an inpatient treatment program typically lasting three to 12 months. While different individuals can decide if long-term drug treatment is right for them, these programs are good for people who have struggled with their addiction over a long period of time despite completing other drug rehab programs.

Long-term drug rehab programs may also be suitable for people who are facing a dual diagnosis that is difficult to treat, such as addiction and bipolar disorder. Some people may choose a long-term program simply because they feel more comfortable with the added insurance that a longer treatment program adds to their recovery.

Long-term residential treatment programs often use a therapeutic approach known as the therapeutic community (TC). This is an approach to re-socializing people whose addiction has seriously affected their ability to fit into society. These include people with serious criminal behavior, people who are homeless, adolescents and people with serious mental health disorders.

Drug Rehab FAQs

Many people who are facing the opportunity of addiction treatment have no previous experience with this kind of care, and they might not know what kinds of drug rehab questions to ask when checking out programs. Before enrolling in a drug treatment program, there are a few critical questions individuals and their families should ask to make sure that the care will be safe and effective, including:

  • Does the program meet the licensing requirements of the state?
  • Do credentialed, well-educated medical personnel, therapists, social workers, nutritionists and case managers staff the facility?
  • Does the facility offer a full range of recovery services, such as individual therapy, family counseling, peer groups, 12-step programming and recreational therapy?
  • What happens in drug rehab? Is a sample daily schedule available?
  • Do the programs include evidence-based therapies for behavior modification and relapse prevention?
  • Are the accommodations comfortable and appealing?
  • Is medication management provided, both for anti-addiction drugs and mental health medications?
  • Does the facility offer an integrated plan for treating co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders?
  • Does the program help its clients transition successfully from one level of care to the next (inpatient residential to outpatient to aftercare)?
  • Do clients receive adequate support in aftercare through alumni services, case management and community referrals?

How Much Does Drug Rehab Cost?

The cost of a substance use disorder far outweighs the cost of rehab. Compounded over time, addiction can cost a lifetime of income and savings. It can even cost people’s lives. For most people, however, the question of affordability is a reality. Finding out how much drug rehab costs will decide whether or not they can attend.

The cost of various rehab programs varies, ranging from free government-funded or community-funded programs to luxury facilities. Many drug treatment centers are affordable or even free for some clients, and many communities offer free counseling or rehab drug treatment. These types of programs usually take place at outpatient drug rehab centers.

Regardless, the cost of not getting treatment can be very high.

Does Insurance Cover Drug Rehab?

For affordable inpatient and outpatient care, using an insurance provider can help cover the cost of rehab. Many insurance plans cover substance misuse treatment completely. Speaking with an insurance provider or a representative from a potential program is a good place to start. The Recovery Village accepts a variety of insurance plans and works with clients to develop payment plans so they can make healing a priority. The Recovery Village’s insurance verification tool can help to work out viable options.

How Long Is Drug Rehab Treatment?

The type of treatment program is the biggest factor in determining how long drug rehab will be:

  • Detox is usually around seven days
  • Inpatient programs average 21 to 90 days
  • Long-term residential care programs are usually three to 12 months
  • Outpatient programs depend on the intensity of the program, but they usually range from a few weeks to three months

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) compiles extensive data on drug rehab programs. According to their most recently published data, the average length of stay in drug rehab is:

  • 90 days for discharges from outpatient medication-assisted opioid therapy
  • 78 days for discharges from non-intensive outpatient treatment
  • 42 days for discharges from intensive outpatient treatment
  • 39 days for discharges from long-term residential treatment
  • Five days for discharges from medication-assisted opioid detoxification

Drug Rehab Success Rates

How effective is drug rehab? Drug rehab statistics for success rates are very difficult to pin down for several reasons:

  • There is a lot of variety in the quality, duration and intensity of programs
  • There are many different program types in use
  • It depends on the end-points that are used to define success (e.g., abstinent after one year, improved function, reduced criminal activity, etc.)
  • It depends on the substances used (e.g., cocaine use has different relapse rates than does alcohol)
  • Many people do not follow up after treatment, especially if they relapse
  • Some program over-report their success rate to promote their program

Recovery is not always absolute. For example, a lapse (an episode of drinking or drug use that does not turn into a full relapse) or even a short relapse may be nothing more than a bump in the road. Some recovering addicts use these moments to reorient their recovery and get back to work on their recovery activities. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 40% to 60% of people who complete treatment relapse.

Finding a Drug Rehab Center Near Me

When it is time to take action, finding the right drug rehab facility can become a daunting task. Many people turn to the internet with search engine inquiries like “drug rehab near me.” Finding a drug rehab center nearby can be helpful, but internet searches may also offer results for programs that require travel. Inpatient drug rehab centers away from home can offer more opportunities for healing in a new, distraction-free environment.

Drug Rehab at the Recovery Village

At The Recovery Village, we believe that long-lasting sobriety begins with a full continuum of care. That means our drug treatment programs are comprehensive and progressive, with each stage of treatment building on the others for a holistic and comprehensive approach to recovery. If you are looking for the best drug treatment available, we have the resources to help you in your treatment from start to finish.

Whether you are seeking rehab for drug addiction alone or in conjunction with depression or any other mental disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us today for a confidential discussion with one of our representatives.

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Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Andrew Proulx, MD
Andrew Proulx holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, an MD from Queen's University, and has completed post-graduate studies in medicine. He practiced as a primary care physician from 2001 to 2016 in general practice and in the ER. Read more

Lehman, Barbara; David, Diana; Gruber, Jennifer. “Rethinking the biopsychosocial model of […]as a dynamic system.” Social and Personality Psychology Compass, August 3, 2017. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Melemis, Steven. “Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery.” The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, September 3, 2015. Accessed June 26, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How effective is drug addiction treatment?” January 17, 2018. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Treatment episode data set (TEDS) 2017.” April 2019. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Vanderplasschen, Wouter; Yates, Rowdy; Miovský, Michal. “Bridging the gap between research and pr[…]TCs) for addictions.” Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, June 23, 2017. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.