Addiction affects mental health, physical health, and behavioral health — but for many people, it feels like the better alternative to addiction treatment. This is because of an outdated understanding of what happens at rehab facilities, largely due to movies and TV shows. Thankfully, the best treatment programs have evolved drastically in recent years to be people-centered and holistic and mirror daily life more than a highly restrictive clinical setting ever could. So what is rehab like? Read on to discover modern rehabilitation centers’ transformative and supportive environments.

Changing Tides is a stunning beachfront addiction treatment center that puts its residents front and center, offering more freedom, privileges, and perks than other rehab centers. We believe comfort and joy are as important to recovery as education and therapy. Call us today at (252) 715-3905 and get started on your personalized recovery journey.

Image showing what is rehab like during group therapy session

What is Rehab Like?

Addiction treatment programs exist to help people who are dependent on drugs or alcohol break free from substance abuse and learn how to thrive without substances. A treatment plan usually involves group therapy, one-on-one counseling, psychoeducation, and holistic therapy. There are several different levels of care under the umbrella term of drug rehab, including inpatient treatment, day treatment/partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, general outpatient programs, and continuing care.

Day Treatment/ Partial Hospitalization Programs

A day treatment (IOP)/ and PHP is the next step down from a residential treatment program. To a degree, the first 28 days of this level of care at Changing Tides mirrors the inpatient or residential treatment model to an extent and provides you with the most support during this process. During this time, you’ll participate in individual therapy and meet regularly with your primary therapist, who gathers the information necessary to create a tailored addiction recovery plan. This includes the following:

  • Your understanding of the mechanism of addiction
  • How well you understand addiction recovery and language related to the recovery process
  • Your short- and long-term goals
  • The importance of connection and healthy relationships for recovery
  • Your level of awareness
  • Whether you’ve attended rehab previously
  • Family dynamic and interaction

Once the initial period of gathering information for your treatment is complete and you’re through the most intense phase of the withdrawal process, your family can get involved and you’ll attend regular therapies on a group and individual basis.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Intensive outpatient care is the next step down. It’s still highly structured and involves daily attendance of individual and group therapy, psychoeducation and experiential therapy. However, you have plenty of time during the day to pursue meaningful goals such as employment, education, and volunteering. You’ll usually spend three hours per day, five days per week at rehab, and at Changing Tides, you’ll stay in our accommodations to help you get the most out of recovery.

General Outpatient Treatment

The last step in the recovery process is a general outpatient program, which involves spending one hour three days per week attending sessions. Throughout your stay, the calming, structured environment helps you get into a healthy lifestyle — but true change requires commitment over time. GOP services and aftercare are essential to help reinforce everything you learned during treatment.

Medical Detox

Not everyone needs to go through the medical detox process, but some type of detox is required for every substance use disorder. Detox is simply the process that happens when you cease drug and alcohol abuse, and your body purges the toxins from your body. During detox, you’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which are the result of the changes that happen as your body adjusts to no longer receiving a substance that’s been consistently present for an ongoing period.

Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opiate addiction might necessitate medical detox, and you’ll find out what’s required during your intake assessment.

Sober Living Facilities

For some people, their home environment is a major trigger. There are many reasons this might be the case, from lack of emotional support to violence or drug use at home. In instances such as these, sober living facilities can act as a stepping stone between attending highly structured treatment, gaining independence, and finding your own home.

For many people who stop using drugs and start living in a healthy environment, pursuing goals such as finding a job you love or gaining a qualification in a field you’re passionate about becomes much easier. Sober living helps you learn to live with others and communicate in a safe and healthy way, so when you become fully independent, you’re fully prepared.

Therapy Sessions at Drug or Alcohol Rehab

For people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, recovery meetings and individual counseling are two of the most effective ways to help them get sober. Understanding why you use substances, whether it’s to self-medicate, to feel in control of your pain or because it’s a learned habit, usually has a profound effect on recovery. What’s more, therapy and psychoeducation help you understand the gravity of the situation and see that continued substance abuse is only likely to cause more and more problems.

Individual Therapy Sessions

Individual therapy is essential for recovery, and most people continue to attend long after they complete a rehab program. Modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy can help you understand yourself and the nature of addiction better.

Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy is a cornerstone of addiction treatment, and it’s so useful for a number of reasons. First, it helps you build confidence in expressing your feelings to others. Many people who struggle with addiction have difficulty speaking up about how they feel because they feel they’re unworthy of having emotions. This can lead to a cycle of shame and repression that feeds the addiction.

Another benefit of support group sessions is learning from others as they share their experiences. This gives you a broader perspective and better understanding of addiction and helps you hone empathy skills, which can be useful for relapse prevention.

Family Therapy Sessions

Family therapy is vital for most people who struggle with addiction because the condition rarely affects an individual without sending shockwaves through those around them. In some cases, family members get into negative patterns of communication, and a therapist is best placed to help you move forward and learn how to communicate in a healthy way, set boundaries, and overcome codependency.


Another key aspect of the recovery process is learning about how being addicted affects the mind and body. Most people who struggle with addiction have a disconnect between their understanding of substance abuse and the reality of how it impacts them. Learning about how much more difficult drug and alcohol abuse makes it for your brain to function properly often plays a key role in recovery.

Holistic Therapy

Treatment facilities should never focus exclusively on the classroom and the therapist’s chair. Instead, treatment should include holistic therapy methods that promote healing and calm and contrast the intensity of treatment. Music therapy, yoga, meditation and other alternative therapies help you find peace within yourself and learn new ways to self-soothe.

A group of individuals doing exercises together at a drug or alcohol rehab treatment center

The Healing Process at Changing Tides Rehab Center

Substance abuse treatment for drug or alcohol addiction looks different for every individual because everyone is unique. The rehab process you go through might start at the outpatient level if you have a mild to moderate disorder, but if you’ve already received treatment for active addiction, you might need to come in at the most intensive level.

Below is an explanation of what someone with a severe addiction might go through to achieve long-term recovery.

Intake Assessment

The first step of the rehab process is attending a thorough intake assessment with a medical professional. After this, a group of addiction experts work together to create a tailored addiction treatment plan, which might include detox, attendance of a day treatment/ PHP, family therapy, CBT, group therapy, AA meetings, and a specific aftercare plan.

Detox Under Medical Supervision

People with a severe substance use disorder might require detox and medication management to help them get sober. It’s important to note that detox is by no means a cure for addiction. Without therapy, psychoeducation, and case management, you’re highly likely to slip back into old habits sooner or later. Addiction is a sign that your brain has developed unhealthy coping mechanisms that don’t serve you, and getting out of these patterns usually requires the assistance of medical professionals.

Explore Outpatient Treatment Options

Once you’ve been through inpatient rehab or a day treatment/PHP, you’re ready to step down to intensive outpatient care. This allows you to start looking for work or attending school, which can provide purpose and meaning in your life. People are usually happiest when they feel like they’re making a meaningful contribution to the world and have a goal to work toward. An IOP supports these efforts while providing the care necessary to stay sober.

After an IOP, you step down to general outpatient care and increase your time at work, school, or volunteering. Your counselors can help you navigate any issues or concerns while you settle into a healthy routine, and ongoing family support helps you all work as a supportive, healthy unit.

Aftercare Planning and Relapse Prevention

Once your treatment plan is complete, you’ll undergo an outtake assessment, and your primary therapist will set goals and make recommendations for the future. For most people, it’s suggested that you continue attending support groups and individual therapy indefinitely. This is because addiction is a chronic disease that rehab helps you gain control over but doesn’t cure. Many relapses occur because the individual feels 100% better and stops actively maintaining the recovery process.

How Long Does Rehab Last?

Rehab for addiction to drugs or alcohol works best when you attend over an extended period. The first month helps you get back to baseline, and we suggest attending for at least a further one to five months, depending on the severity of your condition and how much time you have available to commit to recovery. The best results tend to occur in people who attend treatment for the longest time, as forming new habits to replace old ones is not quick.

Get Help for Addiction Issues Today

Overcoming addiction requires love, support, and professional assistance for the best results. When choosing a rehab center, look for a center that places its residents front and center. At Changing Tides, the leading North Carolina rehab center, we go over and above to ensure our clients feel safe, peaceful, and supported. You can bring your electronic devices and even drive your car once you complete the first month.

Contact us at (252) 715-3905 to learn what is rehab like and how our program could help you change your life.

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