The Stages of Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation in a Nutshell | Harbor Village - Harbor Village

The Stages of Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation in a Nutshell

Sometimes a friendly reminder is a good thing. Our blog covers both trending news in the recovery (or not) community and arms readers with applicable “how tos.” The bottom line is to treat the disease of addiction, treatment is absolutely necessary. I emphasize the word disease because that’s what addiction is, but this fact is often overlooked– and instead of treated as the medical condition it is, is often regarded as a lack of willpower or morality.

This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Long term substance abuse eventually turns into substance use disorders. Without treatment continued use of addictive substances changes brain chemistry and alters DNA. Addiction literally strips people of their ability to function normally, and creates insatiable impulses to use addictive substances.  

If you don’t believe me read up on the science of addiction:

Addiction: The Things Most People Get Wrong

New Science Supports Addiction as a Brain Disorder

Study Suggests Brain Scans Could Show Risk Levels for Alcohol Abuse

Yale Study Reveals Treating Drug Addiction in the ER Drastically Improves Chances of Getting Addiction Treatment

Here’s a brief overview of the stages of treatment. It might be time to seriously consider going to treatment, or helping your loved ones prepare for treatment.


Detox: The short form of “detoxification,” often referred to as “inpatient medical detox,” is the first step of rehabilitation. During detox patients (we often refer to them as “clients”) undergo their first separation from the drugs they are addicted to. The process typically lasts from seven to ten days depending on the severity of addiction. 

During detox nurses and doctors monitor patients and treat them for the symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal happens when someone who is addicted to a substance is no longer taking their drug of choice- it often results in sickness including nausea, body shakes, aches and pain, depression, anxiety, and other unpleasantries.

The main goal of detoxification is to safely help patients through the withdrawal process- as specific drugs’ (like alcohol) withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. Clients are often hesitant about going to withdrawal because they don’t want to get sick. Detox emphasizes patient care and continual support. Medically assisted drug treatment is sometimes used to help the withdrawal process ease along, as opposed to shocking the body into sickness.

Detox and Withdrawal With Naltrexone

Detox and Withdrawal of Heroin

Detox and Withdrawal of Barbiturates (Downers)

Detox and Withdrawal of Cannabis

Detox and Withdrawal of Flakka

Detox and Withdrawal from Amphetamines


Inpatient/Residential Rehabilitation (or treatment): The second stage of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, clients stay for 30-90 days in a treatment facility learning how to cope without their drug of choice. They address the underlying causes of addiction through therapy and group therapy to understand the disease and overcome traumas; scars from sexual abuse, domestic violence, and the loss of a loved
one are some of the most prevalent. Many treat depression and anxiety during treatment. During the course of inpatient rehab. clients will usually have access to amenities which may include a pool, gourmet food, facility events, special therapies, like horse (equine) therapy, gardening, meditation, yoga, acupuncture- and similar holistic and “fun” things to do.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Addiction Treatment: Are You Covered? What You Need to Know

Insurance Agencies & Outpatient Rehabilitation: What You Need to Know

5 Tips for Preparing for a Rehabilitation Program


Outpatient Rehabilitation (or treatment): The third stage of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, during outpatient treatment clients live in their own homes, but come back for
therapy at their treatment facilities 3-6 days a week, depending on their level of dependency. The goal of outpatient treatment is to help clients transition back into normal living and apply everything they’ve learned in residential rehabilitation to real-world circumstances. During therapy clients continue to address the underlying causes of addiction, but may also express difficulties they are experiencing living outside of the treatment facility.

Some clients skip inpatient rehabilitation because they cannot take off of work, because they have obligations to school, or because they cannot leave their children/families. Other times, outpatient rehab is better suited to treat clients who are merely abusing substances- but are not physically addicted to them.

Understanding the Dry Drunk & Abstinent Addict (And Why They’re Not Recovered)

How to Wrangle a Job After Rehab


Partial Hospitalization Programs: This treatment is centered around catering to patients who are addicted and have untreated psychological conditions like clinical depression, PTSD, chronic anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and similar psychological conditions. A common term used interchangeably with partial hospitalization is co-occurring treatment.


Sober Living Communities: As opposed to transitioning to independent living immediately after inpatient rehab, many choose to become residents in a sober living community, where other people in recovery live along with a therapist, or other addiction professional. No drugs or alcohol is permitted within mini communities. During residency clients go back to work, continue to refine their life skills, and continue therapy.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: The main form of therapy used during drug and alcohol addiction treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy. The goal of CBT is to address the problems addiction stems from and to change clients’ ways of thinking and reacting to emotional and environmental stimuli acting as triggers to use addictive substances.


We can answer all of your questions about drug and alcohol addiction treatment, just give us a call!


Further Reading:

Addiction Treatment for Adults: Focus Track

The Amygdala May Affect the Effectiveness of Drug Rehabilitation

The Addicted Professional: What Employees and Bosses Need to Know

College Kids and Pills: The Epidemic Born From Perfectionism

eBooks for Addiction 

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