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Addiction is a complex disease that can be effectively addressed with a specialized addiction treatment program that can be either residential, where the person remains on site for the duration of care, or outpatient, where the person returns home each night.
With outpatient rehab, there are generally two main types: general outpatient and intensive outpatient rehab. General outpatient programs allow individuals the flexibility to schedule meetings and sessions around their existing schedules while intensive outpatient programs are often very similar to inpatient, or residential, rehab programs.
Since addiction is such an individual disease that does not affect everyone in exactly the same way, each person’s needs are different. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publishes that there are around 14,500 different specialized drug treatment facilities in the United States that can provide a wide range of services to fit any particular circumstance. Rehab is tailored to the individual with their specific needs in mind. Substance abuse, medical, and mental health professionals work together to design a rehab program that will be the most compatible and optimal for recovery.
Rehab programs may include:
In general, a rehab program is structured so a client will know what to expect and to use their time working on healing and moving forward in recovery. A typical day in rehab can vary from program to program, depending on the specifics of each person’s needs. A general format is highlighted below.
During rehab, much of the day is highly structured and this includes a set waking time. Nurses will often come around to rooms and check to ensure that everyone is up, hand out any necessary medications, and do a quick morning progress check. Chores may be divvied up and need to be completed. Individuals will get dressed and ready for the day, and head to breakfast.
After eating and cleaning up, a person will attend their morning sessions. Usually the morning sessions will be in a small group format led by a therapist or counselor. Topics related to addiction and recovery are covered, and individuals check in with each other and the group leader. Then, there will be a break for lunch.
Following a balanced and healthy lunch, there will typically be a series of intensive sessions. Therapists will use both individual and group therapy sessions to explore negative thought patterns and work to improve upon them. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is a standard type of therapy used in rehab that has been shown to positively change some of the circuitry in the brain and dysfunctions of the central nervous system impacted by substance abuse and addiction, the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences publishes. CBT can be used during both group and individual therapy sessions.
A person may go into an individual session directly following lunch. Individual therapy sessions are often followed with some quiet reflection time during which journaling is encouraged. Another group session may come next, during which individuals can practice newly learned techniques with others. Specialized and alternative therapy sessions, skills training, relapse prevention, and educational programs are often hosted during the afternoons in rehab as well. These programs may not be held every day, but perhaps a few times a week as needed. Homework may be assigned after a group or skills training session for individuals to complete before returning to the next session.
There may also be structured exercise and other fitness opportunities for individuals during the middle of the day in rehab. Many rehab facilities have several amenities that residents can take advantage of during a scheduled break in the afternoon. Saunas, pools, fitness trails, ping pong tables, and more may be open for use during this time. A healthy lifestyle is encouraged during rehab to help the body and brain to heal physically. The journal Frontiers in Psychology publishes studies showing that people who regularly engage in aerobic exercise are less likely to abuse drugs. A healthy dose of exercise can stimulate the reward center in the brain, help to manage cravings, and help to rebuild the reward processing center in the brain that has been damaged by drug and/or alcohol abuse. Rehab facilities often provide numerous outlets for individuals to attend to their physical, as well as mental, health during recovery.
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Dinner is served usually at the same time each evening. After dinner, there may be another short group session for individuals to discuss their day and assess progress. Support group meetings are also often held in the evenings, and these groups may meet on or off site, depending on the group and a person’s status in a rehab program. Twelve-Step programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), have been shown to help prevent relapse and encourage long-term sobriety for those who regularly attend and participate actively in meetings, the Journal of Addictive Disorders reports. These support groups can offer encouragement and support from a person’s peer group, helping to improve long-term abstinence rates.
The structured part of a typical day in inpatient rehab generally starts at 7-8 a.m. and lasts until 8-9 p.m. Families may be included in therapy and group sessions, and there may be structured visiting time in the evenings or on weekends. After group sessions and support group meetings are completed for the day, there may be a movie or other fellowship time before bed.
Another important aspect in recovery is getting enough sleep. Lights-out times are highly structured during rehab to ensure a person’s brain has plenty of time to heal with a healthy dose of sleep each night. Sleep disturbances are common side effects of addiction that are managed during rehab. When a person is rested, they are more emotionally stable and better equipped to handle cravings and other issues that may arise. Nurses will often check in with individuals before bed and give any necessary medications as well.
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