Drug rehab is a complex process that cannot be easily explained. It is possible, however, to look at the basics of drug and alcohol rehabilitation, as well as what makes treatment programmes effective and how programmes can be adapted to meet the needs of individuals and groups.


For example, there is a difference between in-patient and out-patient rehabilitation programmes. Residential in-patient rehab centres provide a safe environment which allows addicts to focus all of their energy on getting well. These facilities provide all the support that patients need to get to the bottom of their problems and embark on the road to recovery. Holistic centres, for example, provide group counselling, spiritual counselling, physical exercise, nutritional advice and outlets for creative expression.

Out-patient rehab programmes don’t benefit from the controlled environment provided by residential centres and the services are not as holistic, but in certain cases they can still be effective.

Let’s look at some of the most important factors that distinguish in-patient treatment programmes from out-patient programmes.


Supportive environment

Residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres provide the kind of intimate and supportive environment that allows patients to overcome bad habits and start practicing new ones. Drug addiction and alcohol addiction have root causes that need to be identified and this is more easily achieved when patients don’t have to deal with the distractions and obstacles of ‘real’ life, which probably trigger addictive behaviour.

The close-knit environment allows residents to benefit from the support of their peers, with whom they can share their experiences without fear of judgement. This family-like situation breaks though the barriers of isolation that have been established. Moreover, skilled counsellors are able to oversee and facilitate the change process as residents grow and learn about themselves and their recovery.



In-patient treatment facilities provide residents with some much needed structure. They need to learn the importance of daily routine, which is essential for addicts who need to fill their days with constructive activities so that they don’t get restless or bored and succumb to their old, destructive ways of life. A solid routine also helps residents get back into the swing of ‘normal’ life, as they learn to manage their time and balance their needs with the needs of others, like family, friends and employers.

Residential drug and alcohol treatment centres ensure that residents are kept busy for most of the day. They have to follow a strict schedule that includes chores, meals, counselling sessions, exercise and art sessions and, sometimes, meditation sessions. If these new habits are properly instilled, the risk of relapse decreases.


Personalised attention

In-patient rehab centres are able to monitor residents 24/7. This is not a scary Big Brother system, but is necessary to ensure residents’ safety and well-being. For example, a resident who starts to experience physical withdrawal can be treated swiftly, and a resident who becomes very depressed can be put on suicide watch.

It also means that counsellors are available night and day, so if residents feel like they are about to unravel at 3 a.m. they always have someone to talk to. This constant support and care is missing in out-patient treatment programmes.


Safety net

Many people who check into in-patient treatment centres have tried several other rehab programmes and relapsed every time. They need the additional support and the time and space that residential facilities provide so that they can take a proper break from their lives and reconnect with themselves. The care, support and the skills learnt at in-patient rehab centres provide recovering addicts with the confidence to face the outside world without worrying about giving in to old habits. They can also draw strength from the new friendships forged and can easily get in touch with counsellors and doctors if they need a bit of extra help.


Life skills

An inability to cope with the demands of life is one of the reasons that people become addicted to drugs and alcohol in the first place. Drugs and alcohol provide a pleasant escape. But, until patients can identify what it is exactly that they are trying to escape from, they will remain vulnerable to their addictions. Residential rehab centres help patients identify the root causes of their problems and then teach them alternative coping mechanisms so that they don’t feel like they have no choice but to relapse.

Recovery is a life-long process, which means that the new coping methods have to be very successful indeed. In-patient centres give residents the time and space they need to practice these new behaviours until they are so ingrained that they can be relied upon no matter how stressful situations in which they find themselves.

telephonePlease don’t hesitate to contact us if you or someone you know needs help to overcome drug or alcohol addiction.


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A few years ago, I started using cat and cocaine with friends. At first it was just for fun, but then it got worse...


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