What Is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

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Inpatient rehabilitation is one of several alternatives available for individuals who are seeking treatment for substance abuse problems. Many characteristics are common to both inpatient and outpatient programs, but the main difference is that when one chooses inpatient treatment, the individual seeking help must check into the facility and remain there for the entire length of the program.

Resident programs at a rehab facility generally last at least 28 days but depending on the severity of the addiction can last three months or longer. These programs provide around-the-clock care and are targeted toward individuals who have abused substances for a significant length of time and/or have used drugs that have dangerous or lengthy withdrawal periods. During the time that patients spend at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, they are not allowed to work at outside jobs.

The type of treatment and length of stay at a rehabilitation facility will depend on the patient's individual needs and the type of substances that they have used. Inpatient rehabilitation involves much more than simply getting an individual to stop using drugs or alcohol. The first part of the process involves intake to determine the extent of treatment needed, followed by detoxification. The length of the detox phase varies according to the substance's withdrawal properties. During this phase, the goal is to minimize the discomforts of withdrawal and prevent serious and potentially fatal side effects.

Once detox is complete, patients transition into the rehab community to begin the psychological work of not abusing substances. Typical activities can include individual and group therapy sessions, recovery meetings and appointments with doctors. Time may also be allotted for journaling and reflecting on one's recovery and exercise.

During a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility, patients will not be allowed to have drugs, alcohol or paraphenalia and will undergo periodic random drug testing. Some facilities offer rewards and privileges as patients advance, remain sober and meet goals. After a specified period, these privileges can come in the form of weekend passes off the grounds. Such privileges provide incentives for patients to progress and set a good example for those who are newly sober.

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