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Inpatient Drug Rehab

What is Inpatient Drug Rehab?

Inpatient drug rehab is a type of rehabilitation treatment for those abusing and addicted to various substances. In this treatment type, an individual will stay at a facility, either voluntarily or involuntarily, for a specific amount of time, usually decided on by the patient, their doctor, and/or a third party (the court system, their family, etc).

The individual stays at the facility overnight in a controlled environment with access to 24-hour care. This type of rehab is not always necessary but can be for certain individuals. It can also be incredibly beneficial.

There are actually two types of inpatient drug rehab, according to the NIDA. These are:

Long-term residential treatment 

  • Often best known as a therapeutic community model, individuals usually stay between 6 and 12 months and “the program’s entire community––including other residents, staff, and the social context––[are used] as active components of treatment.” Other services are usually offered as well such as job training, vocational counseling, nutritional classes, etc.

Short-term residential treatment

  • This treatment program provides “intensive but relatively brief treatment based on a modified 12-step approach.” It usually lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks and is suggested to be followed by outpatient treatment when completed.

Either way, the best inpatient treatment is the one that is most effective for and acceptable to the individual patient. Inpatient drug rehab is often necessary for those who need the extra rules, boundaries, and controlled options during their drug addiction recovery, and it can and has helped lead to many successful cases of recovery.

If you need help finding an inpatient drug rehab center, call 800-430-1407Who Answers? to speak with a specialist. 

Who Needs Inpatient Drug Rehab?

Someone who is:

Inpatient Drug Rehab

An addict who can’t stop using on their own requires inpatient drug rehab.

  • Addicted to one or more drugs or substances including:
    • Alcohol
    • Opioids
    • Stimulants
    • Marijuana
    • Hallucinogens
    • Inhalants
    • CNS depressants
    • Club drugs
  • Unable to stop abusing these substances on their own
  • Either:
    • A person who has already attended drug rehab and needs more intense treatment
    • A person who does not feel comfortable going through the process of recovery outside of a controlled environment
    • A person who does not have a strong support system at home and is without help and care from loved ones during this difficult time
    • A person who has intense psychiatric issues and needs to be monitored closely
    • A person who has life-threatening physical issues and needs to be monitored closely

According to a study from the NCBI, “Patients with high psychiatric severity and/or a poor social support system are predicted to have a better outcome in inpatient treatment, while patients with low psychiatric severity and/or a good social support system may do well as outpatients without incurring the higher costs of inpatient treatment.”

If someone especially needs inpatient treatment, it is extremely important that they get it, as outpatient rehab for someone who is not ready to handle it could be detrimental and lead to relapse. It is for this reason that many free and low-cost inpatient facilities exist, especially for those who cannot afford an expensive rehab center.

How Do I Know if I Need Inpatient Treatment?

It is important to be aware of your needs as many people feel that they need inpatient treatment when they do not necessarily and others might not attend it when they truly do need it. Ask yourself these questions to decide whether or not you truly need inpatient drug rehab.

  • Am I addicted to more than one substance?
  • Do I suffer from another psychological problem such as:
    • Depression?
    • Schizophrenia?
    • Bipolar disorder?
    • PTSD?
    • Anxiety?
  • Do I experience or have I experienced extreme psychological side effects of my drug abuse such as:
    • Delirium tremens (an alcohol-induced condition where you see hallucinations and become very confused, upset, and feverish when you do not drink)?
    • Drug-induced psychosis (an issue caused by stimulant abuse that can mimic the symptoms of schizophrenia and cause extreme paranoia, hallucinations, and violent behavior)?
    • Depression as a result of drug abuse or the stopping of abuse?
  • Do I experience or have I experienced extreme physical side effects of my drug abuse such as:
    • Heart attack?
    • Stroke?
    • HIV or Hepatitis C contracted by unsafe sex or the sharing of needles?
    • Extreme respiratory depression at the point of overdose?
    • Anything else that has caused health risks to my mind or body?
  • Is it very difficult for me to take my recovery to the next step because of the living situation I am in?
  • Do I have a very small or no support group of loved ones at all?
  • Do I live alone or somewhere I do not trust myself to stay off of drugs?
  • Have I attended less intense or confrontational treatment in the past and has that been unable to work for me?
  • Do I need
    • 24-hour care?
    • A controlled environment where I can focus on my recovery?
    • The ability to meet others who are dealing with the same issues I am?
    • Rehab treatment that will be intense but also safe?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, inpatient treatment may be right for you. Remember to consider all your needs before you find a program and then look for one that covers the most of your needs.

There are also inpatient treatment programs where “individuals with special needs, including adolescents, women, homeless individuals, people with severe mental disorders, and individuals in the criminal justice system” are able to attend one program that is especially catered to them and their specific needs (NIDA).

Remember that the patient should be informed about the state of their treatment plan and what treatments will be used. According to the NIDA, “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone” and certain patients may be more successful with one treatment than another. If you decide that inpatient drug rehab is the treatment type for you, learning more about it and the different treatments that might be introduced is incredibly beneficial. Make sure that all of your needs are met and that you understand inpatient drug rehab to some degree before stepping into it.

Addiction Rehabilitation Treatment Modalities: Dual Diagnosis

How Long Does Inpatient Drug Rehab Usually Last?

Depending on your situation and the type of treatment, inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from three weeks to a year or more. Obviously one of the most important factors to consider is whether or not the patient needs a treatment plan that lasts this long, but there is a specific time that is thought of as being standard.

According to the NIDA, “Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.” Either way, it is incredibly important that an individual does not leave treatment early or spend too little time in the program, especially with inpatient treatment. “Good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length.”

In order to keep patients in treatment for the adequate length of time, inpatient drug rehab treatment programs are set up to encourage patients’ comfort and motivate patients to finish what they start.

What Does Inpatient Drug Rehab Entail?

Inpatient drug rehab is different from outpatient rehab in only a few key ways. These are:

  • Patients stay overnight at the facility for a specific length of time.
  • The environment that the patient is in is controlled by the doctors, nurses, and therapists at the facility.
  • There are often more options for those in more dire health situations (both physical and psychological) and patients have access to 24-hour care.
  • Inpatient rehab is often usually more expensive than outpatient, although many individuals can get access to low-cost or even free inpatient treatment.

On the first day of treatment, a patient will be given tests to find out their physical and mental state and whether or not they still have dangerous substances in their systems. They will be asked a series of questions and given a treatment program that usually both the patient and doctor agree upon. Getting their room and having a tour of the grounds will be important as well, and the patient will be able to get comfortable with their new surroundings. After this, patients are given access to the many treatment options available in inpatient drug rehab.

What Types of Treatment Are Offered in Inpatient Drug Rehab?

Inpatient Drug Rehab

Some inpatient drug rehabs offer holistic options such as yoga.

There are usually many different types of treatment offered in different facilities, but medication and behavioral therapy are used basically across the board as the two treatment methods most well regarded for treating addiction. Patients will also receive access to other types of treatment, which is common especially in inpatient drug rehab.

Going through the inpatient rehab program can be intense, as the NIDA states that it can even be “confrontational at times” (NIDA 1). But this type of treatment can be highly necessary for those who have been abusing drugs for a long time or who are severely addicted. It will not be easy to change the way patients feel about their drug use, which is why many need to receive treatment without having being influenced by the outside world right away.

Some of the treatment types associated with inpatient drug rehab are very similar to those associated with outpatient rehab. Others are not. But patients should always receive access to the treatment options most beneficial to them.

Medically-assisted Withdrawal

Medically-assisted withdrawal is a part of most inpatient drug rehab treatments and patients who come in still dependent on one or more substances will be given medication to curb their withdrawal symptoms, fight their cravings, and generally make the process less painful and dangerous.

However, patients must be encouraged to continue with treatment after withdrawal. This usually isn’t as difficult with inpatient treatment as it is with simple detox or outpatient treatment, but it is still important to note. According to the NLM, “Most opiate overdose deaths occur in persons who have just withdrawn or detoxed” because these individuals attempt to do the same amount of the drug that they did before and do not have the tolerances to handle it anymore.


There is also another way that medication is used in inpatient drug rehab. Many substances have specific medications that are FDA-approved to treat addiction to them. For example, three medications (buprenorphine, methadone, and naloxone) are approved to treat opioid addiction. Some other substances though, like stimulants and marijuana, do not have specific drugs that are approved to treat addiction to them.

In either case, medication can be used to generally make it easier for patients to focus on their treatments. In some rehab centers, medications are not used and patients go through what is called natural drug treatment. However, this can be painful and very difficult so patients should consider which treatment is best for them before starting one.

Behavioral Treatment

“Behavioral treatments help patients engage in the treatment process, modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse, and increase healthy life skills” (NIDA). This is the most widely used treatment type for drug addiction, and there are different types of behavioral therapy. Some may be used together and others are better during different stages of addiction or for different substances.

These treatments allow patients to change the way they feel about their addictions as well as learn skills to fight cravings, identify triggers, and understand the feelings of others while finding ways to apply these to their own recoveries. Behavioral treatment is nearly always a part of inpatient drug rehab program.

Other Treatments

Because inpatient drug rehab is sometimes more expensive and patients are in more severe situations, there are other treatments available which are not always part of outpatient treatment programs. Some of these are:

  • Holistic treatments like yoga, acupuncture, exercise therapy, art therapy, etc.
  • Vocational classes and resume building
  • Nutritional classes
  • Resocialization where every individual the person comes into contact with during treatment (including other patients) become a part of their rehabilitation and positive social skill building

Inpatient drug rehab is necessary for many individuals who are in severe situations, psychologically, physically, and/or socially. Many addicts need to be in a controlled environment during this time, and you may want to consider inpatient drug rehab if your addiction or other needs are severe enough.

Call 800-430-1407Who Answers? to speak with an addiction specialist who can help you find inpatient drug rehab centers that fit your needs. 

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