3 MIN READ | Psychotherapy

Dennis Relojo-Howell

What Happens in Rehab?

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2023, January 16). What Happens in Rehab?. Psychreg on Psychotherapy. https://www.psychreg.org/what-happens-rehab/
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Battling addiction alone is rarely successful and relapse is common. If you are considering addiction treatment, research shows that drug and alcohol residential rehab gives you the best chance of long-term recovery.

But considering going to rehab can feel daunting. This article explains everything you need to know about addiction treatment options, attending residential rehab and how to find a rehab centre in the UK.

Outpatient vs inpatient rehab

You can attend rehab as an outpatient or an inpatient, also referred to as residential rehab. The type of rehab will depend on your circumstances and the substance use disorder (SUD). Before deciding what type of rehab to attend, it is important to understand the key benefits of outpatient and inpatient rehab programs.  

Outpatient rehab benefits

Danielle Bryant, treatment director and co-founder of Step by Step Recovery, residential rehab in Essex and outpatient addiction treatment service, explained: “If you cannot attend residential rehab, outpatient rehab will provide essential support during your detox. Generally, outpatient rehab is more likely to be effective if you have someone who can support you when you are at home.”

There are different options for outpatient rehab. You can have the intensive treatment and attend day treatment programs five to seven days a week.  Another type of outpatient rehab is to attend fewer therapy sessions over a longer period, typically three months, to fit in with your daily life. 

Regardless of your choice, you will still have the same withdrawal symptoms. This is why it is best to be prepared to take some time off work or daily responsibilities when attending outpatient rehab. 

Inpatient rehab benefits

The key difference is that residential rehab allows you to focus on your recovery with 24-hour supervision. As you can not access alcohol or drugs, you are more likely to succeed with your detox. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be offered as a part of inpatient treatment when clinically appropriate and, if available, at the RCA facility.

Another significant advantage of being an inpatient is that it takes away other life stresses that might trigger a relapse. Additionally, research has indicated that residential rehab has a lower relapse rate than outpatient rehab outcomes. 

How to find a residential rehab centre

When looking for a rehab centre, there are several things you should check will be provided, including:

  • Multidisciplinary staff are available to provide both physical treatment and a range of therapies. 
  • Medical professionals in the rehab centre should include doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists, to provide holistic treatment for a higher chance of a long-term recovery without relapse.
  • Staff-to-patient ratios. High staff-to-patient ratios are essential to ensure adequate time is assigned to each patient’s treatment and medical supervision. Rehab centres with low staff-to-patient ratios are likely to have lower success rates.
  • Accommodation and food should be of a high standard and dietary requirements should be accommodated.

What to expect at residential rehab?

When you arrive at a residential rehab centre following admittance, an addiction specialist will usually discuss your addiction and treatment plan with you. The first part of addiction treatment is normally a medically assisted detox

During your detox, you will have various 1-2-1 therapies and group therapy sessions. Medications may also be provided to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Family may also be involved with therapy sessions and will be able to remain in contact with you in most residential rehab programmes. 

On average residential rehab lasts for 28 days, but you can choose to attend for shorter or longer periods depending on your individual needs. When treatment concludes, you will be provided with addiction aftercare, which may involve attending outpatient therapy to assist with recovery. 

What to expect with outpatient rehab?

Outpatient rehabilitation can be intensive with all-day treatment over 5–7 days. During this time, you will have a structured program with a range of therapy and you may also be prescribed medication to assist with detox. Less intensive outpatient rehab will usually involve between 10 to 12 hours a week of therapy sessions over a period of 3–6 months.


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.

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