If you are considering entering a rehab center for drug or alcohol addiction, or if you have a loved one who needs treatment, one of the biggest questions is what to expect during the first weeks of rehab.  While each rehab center has a unique set of practices and procedures, most of them follow a common format.  Here is an overview of what you can expect to happen during the first 30 days of rehab.

Intake Interview and Assessment

The first step in rehab treatment is a comprehensive interview with the person who is being admitted.  The information obtained from this initial assessment will allow the rehab center to determine the best treatment program.  The rehab center’s staff will ask for a medical history and details about the patient’s addiction.  Medical tests such as urinalysis or a blood test may be performed.


Most forms of addiction require a period of medically-supervised detoxification.  The goal is to wean the patient from the physical effects of the abused substance and to remove all traces of the substance from the patient’s body.  Because withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening, some rehab centers require a patient to undergo detox in a hospital or clinic before being admitted for treatment.

Substance Abuse Treatment

Following detoxification, the substance abuse treatment phase begins.  During the treatment phase, a rehab center will use a variety of methods to address the problem of addiction.  One-on-one counseling and group therapy are the most common forms of treatment.  Some treatment programs center on the 12-step model, while others are based on cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of therapy.  The recovering addict must learn to recognize the triggers of substance abuse and adopt coping skills that will allow him or her to resist relapse.  Many rehab centers also offer occupational therapy and exercise programs to engage patients who are fighting the cravings of addiction.

A patient’s type of addiction, frequency of use and length of addiction will determine the duration of rehab center treatment.  Addiction experts recommend at least 30 days for inpatient rehab treatment; rehab center stays of 60 to 90 days are often required.  During the early weeks of treatment, visits from family and friends may be restricted.

Rehab Aftercare

The most important thing to remember about the first 30 days of rehab treatment is that it is the beginning of a lifelong journey.  When a recovering addict or alcoholic leaves a rehab center, a plan for aftercare treatment should be discussed.  Aftercare therapy and support will help avoid relapse and maintain long-term sobriety.  The family of the person in recovery should also receive follow-up counseling to help them understand their loved one’s addiction and to educate them on the best ways to support sobriety.