How Addiction Rehab Centers Work

By Tiffany Tseng. May 7th 2016

How it Works

There are many types of rehab centers, ranging from the emergency room at the hospital to decadent, luxurious, spa-like centers in a reclusive location, or the clinic center in a prison. Either way, the purpose of addiction rehab centers is to help the affected individual cope and overcome his or her substance abuse in a healthy manner that will, in the long term, prove to be beneficial to the individual's life.

Remember that addiction is a disease, and that seeking treatment and help is not shameful but admirable; it signifies self-acknowledgement of the problem present, and action to kick the habit. Often times, it may take multiple trips and extended stays at rehab centers, as well as a few possible relapses, for the addiction to go away completely. Be sure to also seek professional help, along with support from family and friends, when needed.

Types of Treatments at Rehab Centers

Generally, the treatments at rehab centers can be grouped by the duration into three categories:

  • Inpatient treatment: also known as "residential treatment," the individual will constantly be cared for and supervised 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the center. Residential rehab can be short term or long term, and can last anywhere between one month to a year or more. The purpose of inpatient treatment is to provide a safe and isolated environment where the affected individual can focus on his or her recovery. Generally after treatment finishes, the patient will be "resocialized" by the center to be able to flawlessly integrate into society.
  • Outpatient treatment: instead of "living" at the center for a period of time, the patient visits the center on a visitation basis to attend support groups, receive medication, or counseling. It can be on an as-needed basis, or as a series of treatments, upon the suggestion of the center and the patient's needs. In an outpatient treatment center, the individual can return home every night and carry on his or her daily routines.
  • Partial-hospitalization: this is a combination of inpatient and outpatient treatment methods. The individual will receive treatment during the daytime and return home at night, similar to that of a 9 to 5 work schedule of a full time working professional.

Depending on the rehab center, the treatment plan may vary, with any number of steps. Typically, the center will deal with issues related to addiction, such as withdrawal from the substance, depression, anxiety, or other mental or physical issues. Either way, all rehab centers have one common goal, which is to help the individual cope and overcome his or her addiction in a healthy manner.


The cost of treatment may vary based on the rehab center, the type of therapy sought, and the duration of the treatment. Here are some cost statistics offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

  • The average cost for outpatient facility treatment of alcohol or drug abuse was estimated at $1,443 per course of treatment in 2002.
  • Inpatient treatment for alcohol or drug abuse costs about $3,840 per admission in 2002.
  • Personnel costs makes up the largest cost component for all types of treatment. It amounts to 63 percent of non-hospital residential care, 65 percent of outpatient methadone treatment, and 79 percent of outpatient non-methadone treatment.
  • For an outpatient treatment visit involving methadone, a medication is used to treat cravings associated with addiction. The average annual cost is roughly $7,400 a year, at around $17.78 per visit.
  • For an outpatient treatment visit not using methadone, the average cost is around $1,433, at around $26.72 per visit.
  • Non-hospital, residential care had the highest average cost per enrolled client per day at around $76.13.

Don't let financial reasons dissuade you from looking into help and treatment. Although the numbers may seem daunting, going to a rehab center to treat addiction is still cheaper than being in prison, getting into an accident or losing a life. Some companies today may offer health benefits that include financial compensation for employees seeking treatment for substance abuse. There are also state-funded institutions and programs, such as Medicaid, that may help out financially on the costs of rehab. There may also be payment plans and financial options at rehab centers that could be an available resource.

Choosing a Center

With all these rehab centers available today, how can we choose a center that can be trusted? Generally, questions that should be asked should relate to the:

  • Accreditations and quality of the center
  • Physicians and nurses, and degrees held
  • Therapy services offered
  • Approach to care and value of the center

Trustworthy rehab centers will have detailed and well-informed websites, as well as an information hotline that can be dialed for further questions.


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