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Here’s What to Expect from an Alcohol Rehabilitation Program

a sign that reads "rehab"

Did you know that alcohol is the third highest cause of death in America? Over 95,000 people die every year due to alcohol-related reasons. But an alcohol addiction doesn’t have to end in death.

Entering an alcohol rehabilitation program is the best way to change the trajectory of your life. If you feel nervous about rehab, knowing what to expect can help. Learn everything you need to know about rehab for alcohol to help you make the right decision.

Types of Alcohol Rehab Programs

Most rehab centers offer various treatment types to suit different needs and lifestyles. Inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization are the three main methods. Regardless of your choice, detox is always the first step.


Detox is the process of flushing out substances from the body. This stage lasts for one to two weeks, depending on the severity of your alcohol use disorder. Medically-supervised detox is the most comfortable way to deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Most people experience symptoms during the detox process, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations

These symptoms aren’t uncommon, and a medical professional will be present to help you deal with them. They can provide medication to make the impact of these symptoms less severe. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the strongest in the first three days and then taper off.

Once your detox phase is complete, you’ll be able to enter a treatment program of your choosing.

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient programs are a highly-structured form of treatment. During this time, the patient lives in a supervised facility and attends therapy. Holistic components like art, music, and yoga are often part of the program.

Inpatient treatment has many benefits, including:

  • Safety and supervision
  • 24-hour care
  • A feeling of community
  • Support from other patients
  • Isolation from triggers

Programs vary from 30 to 90 days, depending on your progress and personal goals. Regardless of how long you choose to spend in rehab, your time there will be worth it. Studies show that one-third of patients abstain from drinking altogether post-rehab, while the rest significantly decrease their consumption.

Outpatient Programs

Sometimes, time, money, and responsibilities conflict with inpatient treatment. Outpatient programs are a popular alternative that require less time commitment. Most people attending outpatient treatment go to the facility a few times a week.

They often follow a schedule of individual and group therapy. They can also take part in additional therapeutic interventions and workshops. Most outpatient programs offer weekend and evening schedules to allow for work or school commitments.

The benefits of outpatient programs include:

  • Great flexibility
  • Lower costs
  • More independence
  • A chance to apply new skills in the real world

But outpatient treatment isn’t for everyone. Patients that have a toxic home environment or require intensive care need more help. Only 24-hour supervised inpatient programs can provide the support some need to quit.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) offers flexibility and a higher level of care. Patients participating in this program spend the day at the facility but leave in the evening. They take part in group therapy, individual counseling, and other services.

Patients have access to an interdisciplinary team of medical and psychiatric staff. They receive around 20 hours of intensive treatment each week but get the flexibility of spending nights at home. PHP is a good option for those that need more care but have responsibilities at home.

Treatment Methods in an Alcohol Rehabilitation Program

Everyone’s recovery plan is individual and designed for their specific goals. Your daily life in rehab will also depend on which treatment you choose. But a common framework of therapy and therapeutic interventions applies to most patients.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A lot of people carry around negative thoughts that turn into self-defeating actions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to connect the two to help patients change their behavior. Through CBT, patients learn to:

  • Develop self-control
  • Identify triggers
  • Recognize self-destructive situations
  • Analyze their reactions
  • Practice healthy coping mechanisms

Research suggests that CBT may be one of the most effective treatment methods for addiction. One study found that around 60% of patients treated with CBT were able to maintain long-term sobriety.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is an essential component of the treatment plan. It seeks to strengthen the patient’s desire and dedication to creating change. This therapy helps people overcome their fears and hesitations about addiction treatment.

Patient autonomy and self-set goals are the number one priority of motivational interviewing. The patient and therapist work collaboratively rather than in a patient-therapist model. It gives the patient independence to set their own goals and create a roadmap for change.

Group Therapy

Multiple studies suggest that group therapy is an effective treatment method for addiction. Sharing your story with others and witnessing your peers’ progress is motivational. Group therapy offers many benefits, including:

  • Peer support
  • Success stories
  • Companionship
  • Feedback from peers
  • Collaboration
  • Social skills training
  • A family-like experience

Most people continue to attend group therapy after completing rehab. Some even remain in support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous for years after getting sober.

Therapeutic Interventions

Alternative interventions are available alongside traditional treatments. Some examples of these holistic methods include:

  • Yoga
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Nature therapy
  • Pet therapy
  • Creative therapies
  • Sound bath therapy
  • Equine and animal therapy

These programs complement individual and group therapy. Partaking in these classes can help reduce stress, create bonds with others, and create a focus on health.

A Typical Day at a Rehabilitation Center

To get a better sense of what rehab is like, let’s look at a typical day. Keep in mind that every inpatient program is different. Mornings may start off slow with:

  • Breakfast
  • Meditation or wellness activities
  • Group therapy

Lunchtime provides a nice break and time to reflect on the morning. After lunch, you might:

  • Attend individual therapy
  • Join a nutrition counseling class
  • Enjoy sound bath therapy

Then you’ll enjoy dinner with your peers and take some time to relax. Post-dinner activities might include additional therapeutic interventions or free time. There might be a set “lights out” time, or you’ll retire to your room to journal and reflect.

Find an Alcohol Treatment Center Today

Entering an alcohol rehabilitation program is a big first step on your road to recovery. But knowing what to expect along the way can reduce hesitations and fears about the process. If you need help choosing a treatment method, we can help!

Apex Recovery offers inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs in California. We’ll work with you to design a treatment plan suited to your goals and lifestyle. Contact us today to begin!

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689