Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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Susana Spiegel

Recovery Writer and Advocate

Last Update on February 16, 2024

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Understanding the Different Types of Drug Rehab

Are you looking to get information on the different types of drug rehab? You’re not alone.

Nearly 21 million people in the United States have at least one substance use disorder. However, only 10% of them receive professional help.

When starting your rehab search journey, you will want to know the different types of treatment available to help you.

What Type of Drug Rehab do You Need? 

If you have a substance abuse problem and are thinking of getting help, you should know that drug rehab is not one-size-fits-all.

Addiction treatment varies depending on your physiological and psychological needs.

Substance use disorders include a broad range of drug classes, including alcohol, opioids, inhalants, cannabis, sedatives, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and stimulants.

Different individuals with different types of substance use disorder need different levels of care. Your doctor will recommend the treatment that can best address your medical needs.

A patient’s medical needs are determined based on the type of drug they abuse, the frequency of use, the duration of use, the existence of a co-occurring disease, medical history, and other factors.

An effective treatment must address the multiple needs of the patient, including physical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral.

The five types of drug rehab include detoxification, in-patient treatment, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment.

Depending on the severity of your condition and your unique medical needs, you may have to undergo each type of treatment, one after the other, or skip one or two of these levels.

All types of rehab must include aftercare and follow-up options to prevent relapse and support long-term recovery.


Detox is the beginning of a period of abstinence from your drug of choice. Not all substances require detox, but there are some substances where detox is very necessary and even critical.

During detox, the body returns to homeostasis after prolonged use of the addictive substance. This treatment only caters to physical dependence and does not necessarily address the precedents of psychological addiction and behavioral problems that often intermingle with addiction. That’s why there are additional levels of care in rehab, designed to address those problems. 

The three core steps in the detoxification process are patient evaluation, substance withdrawal and stabilization, and guiding them into treatment.

What is Drug Detox Like?

The drug detox experience all depends on what kind of drug you’re detoxing from.

During the withdrawal phase, the patient may experience a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, including nausea, shaking, vomiting and diarrhea, increased heart rate, headaches, abdominal cramps, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, confusion, extreme mood swings, inability to concentrate, intense cravings for the substance, and others.

Some people may experience more severe symptoms, such as seizures, hallucinations, and delirium.

Clinicians may use medication-assisted therapies to relieve or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

The patient may also receive counseling and therapy during detox that helps them deal with the emotional and mental consequences of drug withdrawal.

What is Alcohol Detox?

Those with alcohol dependence or alcoholism must undergo alcohol detox. This is because alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and deadly if attempted without medical supervision or care.

The process involves abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption which helps the body adjust to an alcohol-free state.

During the process, the patient experiences a range of mild to severe symptoms, depending on the severity of their condition.

The withdrawal symptoms can be physical, such as fever, irregular heart rate, blood pressure, and nausea; neurological, such as tremors, seizures, and hallucinations; and behavioral, such as agitation, irritability, and anxiety.

Patients are administered certain medications that have similar effects to those of alcohol to manage withdrawal symptoms as they detox from alcohol.

Benzodiazepines and barbiturates are the most commonly prescribed drugs for those detoxing from alcohol.

It’s important to undergo alcohol detox in a clinical, medically-supervised setting as some withdrawal symptoms can be fatal and therefore need medical management.

Alcohol detox only deals with the physical elements of addiction and is, therefore not a treatment for alcohol use disorder.

What is Detox Like?

Upon beginning detoxification, a patient undergoes extensive testing that helps clinicians determine what substances are circulating in their bloodstream and their amount.

The patient is also evaluated for potential co-occurring disorders before a treatment plan.

In the next stage, doctors guide the patient through the detox process. Patients receive 24/7 supervision from nurses and rehab specialists.

For effective management of withdrawal symptoms, patients may also be given medications. The last detox stage involves readying the patient for the actual recovery process.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Detoxification typically takes three to 3 to 10 days on average.

However, the exact length of the process can vary for different people based on multiple factors, including the patient’s age, substance abuse history, and the severity of their condition.

People with severe dependence may need psychological or behavioral therapy after detoxification which may extend the program’s length. Detoxification is an early step in all types of drug rehab.

Who Needs Detox?

Anyone physically dependent on a substance must undergo detoxification under medical supervision. Abrupt cessation of substance use can be dangerous or even deadly, especially for those with severe dependence.

People with addiction or substance use disorder also have to undergo medically-supervised detox to remove all traces of substances from their bodies.

Detox is an important step in treating all diseases involving physical dependence, such as alcohol use disorder or co-occurring disorders.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment offers the most intensive level of care. In these programs, patients voluntarily live in a secure and safe residential facility to receive treatment for addiction. This type of treatment provides a structured environment for patients where they can successfully detox from substances, overcome addiction, and re-learn vital skills to lead a successful life after rehab.

These programs are designed to provide patients with the support and resources they need to reach long-term sobriety. Patients receive several different types of therapy to identify and address underlying problems that instigated the abuse in the first place.

Residential Treatment

Residential rehab for drug abuse includes several individual and group therapies. The primary goal of this type of treatment is to address an individual’s psychological dependence on substances.

Medication-assisted treatment, counseling, nutritional planning, life skills training, fitness regimes, support group meetings, and family therapy are some of the vital components of residential rehab for drug use.

Counselors work with the patients to identify and explore the experiences that caused this destructive behavior. Different types of counseling are included in these programs, such as SMART Recovery, Twelve-step programs, cognitive therapy, psychoanalysis, and emotional regulation and mindfulness.

What is Residential Treatment Like?

A typical day in inpatient rehab starts with a healthy breakfast, followed by a group session that focuses on subjects related to the treatment process. The most intensive treatment is in the afternoon after the lunch break.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients receive cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which focuses on changing negative thought patterns that contribute to exacerbating their emotional difficulties. During these sessions, patients explore their behavioral responses to specific triggers and learn to replace them with healthier responses with the help of the therapist.

Individual therapy sessions also help them explore their personal strengths and identify potential barriers to recovery. During these sessions, counselors constantly emphasize that recovery is a long-term process with no culmination and that patients need to make active choices of abstinence for long-term sobriety.

Group Therapy

These sessions are followed by group therapy which helps connect people who have experienced the same struggles. During group sessions, patients share their personal experiences with one another, engendering an environment for emotional healing. These sessions help form a sense of connectedness among the participants. When a patient listens to a fellow patient, it helps them realize that they are not alone in their suffering.

Family Therapy

The damage caused by substance abuse is not limited to the person directly affected by it. It also has destructive effects on family members and loved ones. Therefore, inpatient programs include family therapy sessions during which family members get to share difficult emotions, such as fear, shame, anger, and frustration.

Specialized Sessions

On some days, patients may receive specialized sessions that focus on grief counseling, anger management, and stress management. The goal of these sessions is to teach patients coping techniques that help them handle various issues in a controlled manner instead of resorting to drugs or alcohol.

How Long Does Residential Treatment Last?

The shortest period recommended for inpatient rehab is 30 days after which they can switch to outpatient treatment. Most inpatient programs last from 30 to 90 days. Depending on the patient’s condition and their needs, they may need to stay longer in the facility.

Who Needs Residential Rehab?

Inpatient or residential rehab is indicated for people with serious substance abuse problems. People with psychological dependence on substances need to attend residential rehab for long-term recovery.

Patients with severe mental comorbidities, a long-standing history of substance abuse, or a history of chronic relapse after completing rehab should seek residential treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs offer a hybridized approach to the treatment of substance use disorders, including different types of therapy. 

Patients are enrolled in PHPs in different ways. While some patients enroll directly, others are admitted after completing inpatient treatment. People who experience relapse after completing rehab usually seek partial hospitalization as a ‘step-up’ treatment.

What is PHP for Drug and Alcohol Use?

Partial hospitalization programs for drug and alcohol use cater to both the physical and psychological needs of the patient. Patients work with both psychiatrists and therapists to work to ensure medical stability and address behavioral issues that may cause a relapse.

Some of the important components of partial hospitalization programs include behavioral therapies, relapse prevention, holistic therapies, case management, medication management, fitness and nutrition, support groups, and aftercare planning.

What is PHP Like?

In partial hospitalization, patients continue to live in their homes and receive intensive therapy and psychiatric services in a warm and supportive environment during the day. They attend several different therapy sessions during the day to learn and develop vital coping skills and work through situations that cause problems in their daily lives.

Patients receive all services in a small group setting which allows them to share experiences with one another. A typical day of a PHP includes behavioral therapies like individual counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, contingency management, mental health counseling, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Holistic therapies like yoga, animal therapy, or art therapy may also be included.

How Long Does PHP Last?

Partial hospitalization programs last for one to two weeks. Patients typically participate in these programs for 3 to 12 hours a day, up to 7 days a week. They normally stay at the facility for the majority of the day, eat all meals there, receive all therapy and counseling sessions, and return home in the evening. Clinicians assess the length of the stay for each patient weekly.

Who Needs PHP?

Partial hospitalization is suitable for people who have completed rehab but are struggling to cope with daily life stresses or are at imminent risk of relapse. Individuals who can stay sober outside a rehab center but need a high level of care should also seek this type of treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) address addiction or substance abuse problems that do not require detoxification or 24/7 medical supervision. Unlike partial hospitalization, IOPs operate on a small scale and do not involve intensive therapy or psychiatric services.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program for Drug and Alcohol Use?

An intensive outpatient program for drug and alcohol use is a structured, non-residential treatment that only caters to the patient’s psychological needs.

IOPs for drug and alcohol use include a combination of individual psychotherapy, group-based psychotherapy, educational groups, family counseling, and specialized sessions for encouraging engagement in treatment.

These programs aim to help patients recognize unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, develop self-awareness, learn vital coping skills, improve problem-solving skills, and practice asking for and receiving help in their time of need.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program Like?

In intensive outpatient treatment, patients participate in their daily affairs and receive treatment at an appropriate facility during specific hours of the day.

Therapy sessions, workshops, group meetings, and classes are scheduled throughout the day and patients are required to follow the strict structure of the program.

As an IOP operates on a small scale, patients may not receive all types of therapies on each day of the program.

Different therapies are scheduled for different days.

An IOP normally includes individual and group counseling, behavioral therapies in both individual and group settings, vocational training sessions, family therapy, and 24-hour crisis management. Patients’ alcohol and drug levels are monitored on a regular basis.

How Long Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Last?

Patients typically participate in these programs 6 to 30 hours a week. They visit the center 3 to 5 days a week and the treatment lasts for a minimum of 4 weeks.

Who Needs Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient treatment is a suitable option for those who want to continue their recovery while attending to their day-to-day obligations. It is a step-down treatment for those who have successfully detoxed from substances and are medically stable to participate in their daily affairs.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs are designed to offer support to patients as they resume their normal day-to-day activities and navigate early sobriety after completing rehab. In outpatient treatment, patients participate in individual and group therapy sessions during which they work on areas that could impair their quality of life or create vulnerability relapse. This type of treatment has the most flexible structure and sessions can be scheduled around the patient’s work hours to avoid interruption.

What is Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol and Drug Use?

Outpatient treatment is often the final level of care for alcohol and drug rehab. In an outpatient program for alcohol and drug use, patients stay at their home, take part in social activities, and attend therapy sessions on specific days of the week.

Some outpatient programs have a set schedule, while others work on an appointment-based system to facilitate issues like work and childcare. These programs help individuals learn recovery skills to maintain long-term sobriety and life skills to perform better in their day-to-day activities.

What is Outpatient Treatment Like?

People who enroll in outpatient treatment receive individual therapy, group therapy, family support services, recovery coaching, and nutritional services. Depending on the patient’s condition, they may also receive medication-assisted treatment for long-term recovery and relapse prevention.

Vocational or academic coaching may also be offered if an individual is struggling in those areas. Some programs also include parenting classes and job placement assistance. Treatment sessions are normally scheduled for 9 hours every week.

How Long Does Outpatient Treatment Last?

An outpatient program can last anywhere from 14-90 days.

However, the length of the treatment can vary depending on several factors, including whether or not they have academic or work responsibilities, which level of care they are coming from, and if they have any underlying mental problems that need to be addressed.

Who Needs Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment is suitable for those who have completed rehab and just need extra support to resume their normal day-to-day activities.

People who have just started abusing substances and are physically dependent can also seek outpatient treatment to address the psychological issues leading to the abuse.


An aftercare plan is designed to help individuals maintain sobriety after completing treatment.

The individualized plan incorporates a series of steps that an individual must take after leaving rehab.

Substance abuse is a chronic disorder with a high chance of relapse. However, you can send this incurable, relapsing disease into long-term remission with a high-quality aftercare plan.

An aftercare plan typically consists of ongoing therapy and engagement in community-based support groups.

People recovering from alcoholism join Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and other peer support groups to strengthen their sobriety.

Participating in community-based support groups also helps build and practice skills and strategies that you learned during the treatment.

Recovery is not an easy process. It requires a high level of focus, self-care, and motivation to maintain ongoing sobriety.

With aftercare, you can stick to your recovery plan and follow your long-term and short-term goals.

How can I benefit from Aftercare?

Aftercare focuses on helping the patient stay focused and motivated while working through everyday challenges. The treatment center may also help the patient find safe housing if they don’t have a house. Other benefits of aftercare include educational assistance, legal assistance, vocational assistance or training, and healthcare services.

How can I take charge of my recovery during aftercare?

After successfully completing rehab, you can take charge of your recovery by implementing everything you learned during the treatment.

If there are any ongoing issues that may be affecting your recovery, you can discuss them with your counselor. Most treatment centers follow up with patients on a regular basis to discuss their progress.

Treatment centers usually make contact at the one-week, one-month, six-month, and 12-month marks. They follow up with you till your 24th-month-mark.

After three months, you may also have to visit the center for a psychological assessment. It’s important to attend all physical and psychological assessments after completing rehab.

How long is the recovery process?

The recovery process is lifelong and there is no culmination. You need to keep up with the lifestyle changes you made during the treatment to stay sober.

It takes about six months to five years of abstinence for people to reach the point where they’d not turn back to their addictive behavior.

What Type of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Do I Need?

What type of drug or alcohol treatment is suitable for you depends on the severity of your condition. If you have firm addictive patterns that are hard to break, you may want to opt for inpatient or residential treatment.

If you binge drink once in a while and are physically dependent on alcohol, you should enroll in a partial hospitalization program.

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Author & Reviewers

susana spiegel recovery writer and SEO expert

Susana is a recovery writer and advocate with over 8 years in addiction recovery. She is passionate about sharing accurate and helpful information about mental health, addiction, and recovery. She holds a Bachelor’s in Christian Studies from Grand Canyon University and has over 7 years of working in the addiction field. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges; he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues.

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