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What is Rehab?

Intensive, supervised programs designed to help provide tools to live a healthy life.

Addiction comes in many forms, and so does recovery. “Rehab," short for "rehabilitation," is a general term for intensive, supervised programs designed to help people stop using alcohol and other drugs and give them the tools they need to live a healthy life.

Rehab can help you or someone you love safely end substance use and maintain recovery after completing withdrawal. Rehab programs vary in length and form of treatment. No single treatment works for everyone, and an unbiased medical professional can help you decide if rehab is the right decision, based on your situation.

Learn more about how rehab can help you in your recovery.

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Steps toward recovery 

There are several types of drug and alcohol rehab available, but they typically involve the same general steps toward recovery:

  • Withdrawal Management (also known as detox): Removes alcohol and other drugs from the person's system safely.
  • Therapy: Helps people change their behaviors that come with or trigger their use of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Resocialization: Teaches new ways for people to function in society to maintain recovery.

Types of rehab

Outpatient treatment. Patients live at home and go to a clinic or facility regularly for sessions with substance use treatment professionals.

Inpatient treatment. Patients stay in a hospital and receive intensive and highly structured care, traditionally for at least 28 days. However, the appropriate length of your stay depends on your individual progress in recovery. Try to find a program which offers a variable or customizable length of stay, rather than a fixed length of stay.

Residential treatment. Patients receive intensive and highly structured care in a nonhospital setting.

Recovery housing. Patients live in supervised, temporary housing where they can participate in treatment programs.

Other considerations

Rehab is not the only option for your treatment, nor is it the best treatment option for everyone. Additional treatment options include therapiessupport groups, and medications for substance use disorders.

Deciding on a type of treatment can be a challenge. It’s important to figure out if rehab is right for you and then choose a program that meets your needs.

If, in consultation with an unbiased professional, you decide that rehab is right for you, be aware that the length and form of treatment varies, based on your personal situation and dependence on alcohol and other drugs.

Inpatient and outpatient rehab programs focus on helping participants adopt healthier ways to think and live substance free. Specialty rehab is also available for those looking for a program that caters to a specific age range, gender, or religious affiliation.

Cost is a concern for many people. Insurance plans, loans, and scholarships are available to help cover rehab costs.

Life after rehab

Rehab helps you not only to become drug-free, but also to stay drug-free — and get back the parts of your life that you may have lost. Many rehab programs offer job training and other support services to prepare you to lead a stable and fulfilling life after rehab.

No matter what type of rehab you choose, it can help put you on a path to lifelong recovery.

Find Rehab Centers Near You

Content reviewed by Dr. Jasleen Salwan, MD, MPH, FASAM, February 2023.