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Giving Yourself Room for Recovery: Inpatient Rehab for Alcohol Addiction

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If you are seeking help to overcome an addiction, you are not alone. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), nearly 1.5 million Americans seek treatment annually for a substance use disorder.1

Fortunately, experts have figured out steps in the recovery process that lead to success. First, detoxification must happen to complete the rest of the process with a clear mind.

The second step includes eliminating distractions and temptations for long enough to learn skills to aid in sobriety. Inpatient rehab offers this type of drug-free, supportive environment.

Inpatient rehab is often confused with other beneficial programs, like residential treatment, partial-hospitalization, sober living, and intensive outpatient programs. We offer a definition that makes it easier to understand.

In this article:

What is Inpatient Rehab?

During the initial evaluation, an addiction specialist will determine the treatment level needed to start the recovery process. If a higher level of care is necessary, it will likely be for inpatient rehab.

This higher level of care involves putting life on hold to receive care during an emergency like an addiction. It means physical and mental health is in danger, and the home environment only encourages continued substance misuse.

Inpatient care addresses these issues and it may take a few weeks to a few months. During this time, you will reside at a treatment facility with around-the-clock medical and clinical supervision.

If you need help controlling withdrawal symptoms in the middle of the night, it is there. If you need personal counseling on the weekend, you can receive it.

Inpatient treatment works even better when followed by outpatient treatment. While some prefer one over the other, true success comes when they are combined.

Call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to speak to a treatment specialist about your inpatient rehab options.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

With inpatient care, you live in the treatment facility with others who are just beginning the recovery process. You attend individual, group, and, often, family counseling. Medical professionals are available to administer medicine to help ease your withdrawal symptoms.

Outpatient treatment is similar, except that you live in your home environment rather than the more restrictive inpatient facility. Trying to stay sober can be challenging if you avoid inpatient rehab. Depending on the outpatient program, it’s possible to spend eight or more hours in therapy throughout the week. With more intensive treatment, like partial hospitalization programs, you may receive additional services—such as medical care—and attend the program for more hours per week. But you may find the many other hours in between sessions difficult to manage.

Going from detox right back into a drug environment creates a vulnerable state without first learning sober skills.

Sober skills are not the only benefits you gain from inpatient rehab.

Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

Any substance use disorder creates physical and psychological damage to the brain2 and body. Inpatient drug rehab provides the opportunity to heal in all areas.

Physical healing happens because:

  • An addiction physician provides the right medicine to eliminate withdrawals
  • The brain has time to heal from the trauma of drug misuse
  • The brain is taught to feel good on its own, without substances
  • Underlying medical issues are treated

While the brain heals, it can do a better job telling the rest of the body to heal. The digestive issues, skin ailments, mental fog, sleep problems, and organ malfunctions created by drug use can improve significantly in a short period.

Psychological effects of addiction begin to improve too. Psychological healing includes:

  • Learning to recognize and cope with mental health disorders
  • Become mindful, listening to, and responding to your body’s needs
  • Overcoming past traumas
  • Recognizing and utilizing your strengths
  • Treating mental health issues the right way so self-medication is not necessary
  • Improved confidence and internal strength

Inpatient rehab staff can provide a wide range of therapies to meet individualized needs. Call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to speak to a rehab specialist and discuss your options.

Therapies Used in Inpatient Rehab

Talk therapy is the most common type of inpatient therapy. It works to change your thoughts so that your feelings and behaviors will also change. Two examples often used by inpatient clinical staff are cognitive-behavioral and dialectical behavioral therapies.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has the following benefits:3

  • Raises self-esteem.
  • Changes thoughts from negative to positive.
  • Improves communication skills.
  • Improves relationship skills.
  • Gains coping skills for dealing with negative emotions.
  • Successful when treating dual diagnosis.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can:

Supportive therapy is a great supplement. It offers:

  • Opportunities to learn from others who are also in the process of recovery
  • A chance to express yourself
  • Resources and tips to help maintain sobriety
  • An increase in self-understanding
  • An opportunity to help others
  • Stress-reduction

Some inpatient facilities offer alternative therapy, including holistic therapies like acupuncture, yoga, and meditation to supplement traditional treatments. Luxury rehab centers are more likely to offer a range of alternative therapies. Holistic therapy benefits include:

  • Learning the importance of balance in life
  • Focusing on overall positive health
  • Connecting the mind, body, and spirit
  • Teaching self-compassion
  • Aiding in healing physical and psychological impairments

Medication-assisted treatments (MATs) are available in many inpatient rehabs to assist with both withdrawal and reduced risk of relapse. Research has shown drugs used as part of a treatment plan improves outcomes.4

Medication-assisted treatment offers one huge benefit—it lengthens the amount of time spent in therapy, increasing the likelihood of success in recovery.

Therapies like the ones listed become part of the treatment plans of all inpatient rehab participants. Each day in treatment involves different activities. While schedules can vary, most drug rehabs follow a basic inpatient daily schedule.

Rehab Schedule and What to Expect

The schedule below outlines the basic opportunities each person has throughout each day. Based on individual needs, activities may vary to include more specific therapies. The activities listed between waking up and going to bed are in no particular order.

  • Wake up (usually early in the day, around 7 a.m.)
  • Breakfast (usually 30 minutes after you wake up)
  • Medication appointments
  • Holistic activity (usually reflection, meditation, yoga, prayer)
  • Addiction education session
  • Group therapy
  • Lunch
  • Individual therapy session
  • Health and wellness activity
  • Like skills training
  • Dinner
  • 12-Step meeting
  • Recreation/free time
  • Bedtime

Everyone living in an inpatient rehab setting must follow through and participate in the activities offered. There are other expectations for inpatient living too.

Inpatient Rehab Rules

Learning to meet expectations offers greater chances of success in recovery. It is essential to understand what will be expected before beginning any program.

For inpatient drug rehab, the following rules may apply:

  • No leaving the inpatient facility without permission.
  • On weekends, only approved visitors may visit.
  • No cell phones or computers (no distractions).
  • No violence or weapons.
  • No use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Attend all therapeutic activities.
  • No romantic involvements.
  • Medication administered by staff only.
  • Smoke only in designated areas.
  • If you see or hear of a problem, talk to a staff member.

While inpatient care facilities’ rules and regulations may seem strict, they are important when learning how to live without drugs or alcohol. The structure is a recovery benefit.

Not everyone meets the requirements for attending inpatient drug rehab. Treatment laws established by the State determine who qualifies to receive this level of care.

Admission to Inpatient Rehab

The criteria for admission to inpatient rehab protect both patients and treatment facilities. Such standards ensure treatments match diagnoses. Treatment facilities must make sure they can meet your needs while also meeting other program participants’ needs.

Factors used to admit someone for inpatient treatment include:

  • A diagnosis consistent with chemical dependency
  • Medical stability
  • Home environment
  • Ability and willingness to participate in treatment
  • Previous treatment
  • Drug use details

It’s okay to avoid choosing the first one that allows admission. Instead, make sure to select the right inpatient rehab.

How to Choose the Right Inpatient Rehab

Getting into inpatient rehab may be a lot easier than getting into the right rehab. Although you are eager for help and ready to get started on your recovery program, make sure the facility you choose will meet all your needs.

If you suspect you have a mental health problem as well as an addiction, search for a facility that offers dual diagnosis or co-occurring services.5

Take time to research the inpatient treatment program online. A facility’s website contains a lot of information. Look for specialty programs, licensure and certifications of staff, and reviews.

Because every rehab differs in what they offer, choose the one that matches your needs.

Consider the following:

  • Amenities
  • Client demographic at the facility, such as treatment for teenagers
  • Programs
  • Location
  • Length of program
  • Cost

Inpatient care treatment programs can range from basic to luxurious amenities. Both are fully functional. Specialty programs offered will differ also. Some provide medication for detox; some use alternative treatments to ease withdrawal symptoms. Some rehabs provide weekly massages, while others do not see this type of service as a benefit.

It’s crucial to search for programs that specialize in treating your primary addiction—many who enter treatment misuse multiple substances. However, there is usually one substance at the center. Whether it is alcohol, heroin, or gambling, find the inpatient rehab specializing in treating your type of addiction.

Many people choose an inpatient rehab because it is the closest to home. This can have both positive and negative outcomes. Being close to home makes it easy for the family to visit on the weekends. Also, being so close to home makes it tempting to leave treatment early.

If you are looking for programs longer than 90 days, they do exist. Many rehabs can offer scholarships to assist with costs. Typical inpatient programs run from between 14 and 90 days.

Finding the right rehab can make a big difference in the first few months of your recovery.

To help in your search, call 800-948-8417 Question iconCalls are forwarded to these paid advertisers to get the answers you need. Call center counselors are available 24/7 to provide information so you can make the best decision regarding how to start getting sober.


  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Drug Policy Facts. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS).
  2. Harvard Medical School.  (2011). Harvard health letter: How addiction hijacks the brain. Harvard Health Publishing.
  3. Osilla, K.C., et al. (2010). Developing an integrated treatment for substance use and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. National Institute of Health.
  4. Pew Charitable Trust. (2016). Medication-assisted treatment improves outcomes for patients with opioid use disorder. Substance Use Prevention and Treatment.
  5. MedLine Plus. (2020). Dual Diagnosis.
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