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      Sober Nation

      Putting Recovery On The Map

      05-12-16 | By

      4 Steps of The Drug Rehabilitation Process

      The 4 Steps of the Drug Rehab Process

      Universe willing, those of us who are in recovery, all have that moment of clarity. Whether you call it “rock bottom,” or something else, it’s that moment when your life changes forever. It’s that moment when you feel a glimmer of hope for a better life. For people who suffer from substance use disorder, this moment could be the time when you decide to enter rehabilitation for drug and alcohol use.

      That moment can be the best and scariest time of your life. You’re catapulted into the unknown because it’s too painful to stay behind. So you’ve agreed to rehab, but you have no idea what to expect. In the drug rehabilitation process there are four general steps. Learning about them before you go can help put your mind and soul at ease as you embark on the beautiful journey we call recovery.

      The specifics of drug rehabilitation are based on the needs of every individual. Intake counselors, behavioral therapists, doctors, and the person entering the rehab center, all play important roles in creating a successful recovery pathway.


      When you first enter a treatment center for addiction issues, you’ll first meet with a doctor, a psychologist, and/or a counselor. This intake process is like an interview that allows the professionals at the treatment center to admit you to your specified substance treatment program. You’ll be asked about your medical history, mental health history, and a physical examination and mental health screening may be provided at this time. You’ll also be asked about your substance use and what events led you to where you are.

      Everything that you detail in this initial interview will be kept private. It’s not to interrogate you, but to get a better idea of what type of treatment you will need going forward. Although it might be your first instinct to lie about your using habits, it’s best to be open and honest with your rehab’s staff members. You are there to get well and the more honest you are, the easier it will be.


      Commonly referred to as detox, this will be the stage where your body is cleansed of the harmful substances you have been using. Ridding the body of drugs is essential in order to begin the rehabilitation process. Detox can be a scary time because of painful withdrawal symptoms that often arise. When you become addicted to a drug your brain requires this drug to feel good, function normally, and avoid withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are unique to each individual person and can vary depending on: the drug used, length of active addiction, amount of substance ingested each time it was used, family history, and mental health status. The detox process should be carried out by a credentialed and trusted addiction treatment facility under a doctor’s care.

      There are many different approaches to detox. Rehabilitation programs often use medication assisted detox, intensive monitoring, and 24-hour supervision. Depending on the severity of withdrawal, medication is often used to ease pain and discomfort until detox is over. Detox can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and is dependent on the severity of the addiction. Detox is not designed to completely rid you of your addiction, but rather, begin your journey of recovery.


      This where the real work begins. After the harmful substances are removed from your body, rehabilitation begins. This is the time where co-occurring disorders may also be diagnosed and evaluated. The meat and potatoes of rehab is counseling, group therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which negative thought patterns are examined and challenged in order to shift undesired behavioral patterns. By testing and restructuring negative beliefs, self-esteem can return and inner motivation can take over to discourage the use of drugs and alcohol.

      Individual and group therapy are often combined to produce optimal results. Both group and individual therapy are important from early recovery, through rehab, and into aftercare. Therapy will help you:

      • Gain a deeper understanding about addiction
      • Learn how different types of addiction effect the brain
      • Learn healthy ways to manage stress
      • Build a stronger sense of self
      • Improve coping skills
      • Increase motivation to fill a life without harmful substances
      • Create and maintain healthy relationships with others

      Individual therapy sessions will be structured to your needs. A therapy session can touch on many topics, but may follow a guideline that encourages you to find the motivation to get and stay sober. Goals are often set at the end of a session to keep you on track and these might include: staying sober for a certain number of days, attending a number of meetings, or trying new recovery activities. Therapists are not there to judge or criticize you, but offer an objective viewpoint and have the ability to guide you through the stages of addiction recovery.


      Two of the most essential components of the drug rehabilitation process are aftercare and relapse prevention. From the start of rehab, you’ll be communicating about what your plan is after you leave. This is to ensure you have the best possible chance of continuing recovery successfully when you reenter the world. Identifying challenges to future success is imperative so they can be addressed while you’re in treatment. The environment you return to and the resources available play a huge role in your future success. Case managers are sometimes provided in treatment who can assist with employment responsibilities, legal consequences, education, family and social environment, and housing needs for when you leave treatment.

      Before you leave drug rehabilitation you will be given guidance about finding and maintaining your recovery, attending 12 step meetings in your area, nutritional needs, follow-up therapy, and medication management. Continuing what you’ve learned while in rehab is the single most important takeaway from it all.

      Entering drug rehabilitation can be a scary and life-altering experience, but then again so can addiction. The most empowering thing of all is that treatment centers are there to help us get through our darkest of times in order to reach the best moments of our lives.


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