What to Expect in Rehab


The primary things to expect in rehab is to confront your addiction and to heal. How this happens depends somewhat on which facility you enter, but all have the same objective in mind: to help you get better.

Welcome to our house

The first step is similar to entering any medical facility. An intake procedure will consist of an interview and forms to fill out. You will be asked detailed questions about your addiction, things like how much, how long and which substances. This information, and all other information, is treated confidentially, but it’s essential to be honest.

For many, this first step is very significant. Addiction demands secrecy. Secrecy demands lies. Suddenly, a situation arises where the addict gets to expose the hard truth, something that will happen over and over again during rehab, but this first time can feel like a huge burden being lifted.

Other matters will be taken care of during intake. You will be asked about insurance, medical conditions and asked to provide contact information for significant others, your regular doctor and any officials (probation officer, court officer) attached to your case. Since rehab is a private affair, you will have to give permission if you want staff to discuss your case with other medical professionals, the courts, or a spouse. Intake usually includes a medical exam and drug testing. Some facilities may delay the medical exam until a doctor is available.

Finally, you will be given a tour of the facility and a booklet that gives you the rules. You will be asked to sign an agreement that states the terms and conditions of your stay. The purpose is to make you aware of things like smoking and other policies. Make sure you understand your boundaries, both physical and in your dealings with staff and other residents. You will be shown to your room, which you might share with others, and your personal items may be searched to make sure you have no contraband or prohibited items.

What’s next?

If detox is an issue, your first few days will be centered around clearing any drugs or alcohol from your system. The staff will have to know what to expect, depending on the addiction and usage levels you reported. If any medications are required, the staff will monitor use, and this is handled the same way as any medicine you require, such as blood pressure medication or an anti-depressant.

Many facilities start you out with a series of videos, both as an introduction to the process and as a convenient way to go over the basics. Early on, you will have another interview with a therapist. The purpose is for them to get to know you, your concerns and your particular problems. They may help you set goals and talk to you about expectations for treatment. Do not hesitate to ask your therapist or the staff any questions you have. They are there to help.

You will be introduced to the routine of the facility – a daily schedule of activities, most of which are mandatory. These will include things like meals, cleaning your room, helping with chores around the facility and scheduled meetings and therapy sessions. Part of the experience is to offer a stable environment and to keep you occupied with useful tasks. The regimen is helpful, and part of rehab is learning to just live life without drugs.

Other residents

By this time you will have met some of the other residents. Part of the rehab experience is getting to know others with addictions, to hear their stories and to share yours. Relationships with other residents are encouraged, but not physical intimacy. You should protect your personal space and avoid infringing on others, either physically or emotionally.

In some ways, each group that makes it through rehab builds its own dynamic. There are leaders and followers, extroverts and introverts, the well-off and the impoverished. Expect to make friendships as well as dealing with emotional turmoil – yours and others'.


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