Alcohol Rehab: What to Expect at American Addiction Centers

3 min read · 3 sections
Entering residential or inpatient treatment program for addiction can be a little nerve-wracking when you don’t know what to expect from the experience. Residential or inpatient addiction treatment provides care and support 24/7. These programs require you to live at the facility—and take time away from work, school, family, and friends—so you can focus on getting the help you need for a substance use disorder. The duration of care and the length of stay depends on various factors, including the severity of your substance use disorder, medical necessity, and insurance coverage, among other things.1
What you will learn:
How to prepare to attend a drug or alcohol rehab program
What to expect while you’re in treatment
Approaches to care
What happens in American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) alcohol rehab

Preparing for Alcohol Rehab

There are things you should pack and have during your stay at an inpatient or residential treatment program—and items you should leave at home.

First, consider what you need to bring such as your picture ID and insurance card.

In general, you need enough clothing for 1 to 2 weeks. It’s best to pack casual, comfortable clothes that you can layer (in case it’s chilly), pajamas, sneakers and flip-flops. Don’t overpack. AAC’s facilities have limited storage and some treatment centers, like Laguna Treatment Center and AdCare Treatment Centers, have a bag limit—Laguna allows 2; AdCare permits 1. However, each facility has laundry facilities and detergent available for you to use.

Some AAC facilities, such as Laguna Treatment Center and Greenhouse Treatment Center, also have a pool. If you’re attending rehab at one of these facilities, you should bring 1 bathing suit (bikinis are not permitted and one-piece swimsuits must be appropriate—np thongs). Other facilities, such as River Oaks Treatment Center, feature a fitness center so you might want to bring workout clothes.

Additionally, bring your own new, sealed, unopened toiletries—including shampoo, conditioner, styling products, skincare, body wash, lotions, toothpaste, and makeup. All personal hygiene items must be alcohol-free (perfumes and colognes are not permitted). You will also need to pack a toothbrush, hairbrush, comb, hair dryer and any other hair styling tools. Recovery First Treatment Center does not allow toiletries to be brought in and provides you with shampoo, conditioner, and soap.

Current prescription medications that you’re taking for other medical or mental health conditions need to be in the original prescription bottle/package and will be screened when you arrive. Also, provide the facility with a paper that includes the name, dose, frequency, and prescriber or pharmacy contact information for the medication. Any over-the-counter medications must be approved by a physician.

You may want to bring your phone, laptop and other small electronic devices, like a tablet or e-reader, to rehab. AdCare Treatment Centers don’t allow electronic devices outside of phones. Other facilities permit the use of approved electronic devices. However, in order to promote a therapeutic environment and protect the privacy of all patients, the use of these devices will be restricted during certain levels of care and treatment times.

For entertainment, AAC rehab facilities recommend that you bring appropriate reading material that’s not harmful to your recovery efforts.

There are also certain items that you should not pack. These include energy drinks, beverages in aluminum cans, drugs and alcohol, weapons, drug paraphernalia, your own vapes (unopened cigarette packs are permitted; some facilities, like Desert Hope and Greenhouse treatment centers, allow unopened vapes), inappropriate clothing, outside food (though some facilities, like Desert Hope Treatment Center allow pre-packaged snacks and unopened drinks in plastic bottles), CBD or marijuana products, and your own linens and stuffed items.

It can be scary to enter a new living situation without the creature comforts of home. Remember, your stay at rehab is temporary, and you will have access to those things again in the future. In the meantime, lean into your new situation and try to make the most of the new supports and resources that are available to you.

What to Expect During Alcohol Rehab

Your recovery begins the moment you check into rehab. During the intake process, you may complete an interview or questionnaire that allows the facility to get to know you better but also assesses your alcohol or drug misuse and co-occurring health conditions in order to create a customized treatment plan for you. From there, you may move to detox (if needed), where you will be monitored by your treatment team, who will intervene as needed for your safety and to help alleviate your withdrawal symptoms. After detox, you’ll begin behavioral therapy, individual counseling, education, and more.

Treatment programs vary—even within the AAC’s network of facilities. However, you can expect regular structure and days that revolve around therapy sessions at each of the residential or inpatient programs at AAC. This may include participation in certain activities, such as individual and group counseling, behavioral therapies, alcohol education classes, 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, physical activity, time for reflection, and meals.

Additionally, some of the AAC facilities, including Desert Hope, Oxford, Recovery First, and River Oaks treatment centers utilize the Embracing Change: Recovery for Life curriculum, which combines research-based modalities with interactive therapy, journaling, self-reflection, and more—all meant to make you successful in your recovery.

Arriving at an Alcohol Rehab Facility

When you arrive at a rehab facility, you will meet with an admissions staff member for about an hour. This person may be a medical professional, like a nurse or a therapist, or they might be the intake director or another member of the admissions team. The goal of this meeting is to get to know you and your situation to create a customized care plan for your time in rehab. During this time, you will also sign paperwork to start treatment, verify your insurance benefits, and provide as much information as you can about your personal and family medical history. Lastly, a staff member will assist you with checking your bags to make sure you have followed the guidelines mentioned above.

After meeting with admissions, you will then receive a medical and psychiatric evaluation, which takes about 60-90 minutes, to help further refine your treatment plan. During this time, a nursing staff member checks your vital signs, conducts an initial drug screen, and discusses more information about your history and any previous experience you’ve had with treatment.

Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal Management

For many, the first step of rehab includes detoxification. During medical detox, a healthcare provider assesses your alcohol withdrawal symptoms to determine which medications are needed to prevent complications and to help you withdraw safely while relieving symptoms.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Behavioral Therapy

Once alcohol detox is complete and you’re medically stable, you’ll be moved to your room, where you’ll stay for the duration of your treatment. Your first day in the residential or inpatient program involves touring the AAC facility, meeting your medical team, and getting plenty of rest.

Treatment beyond detox involves therapies in individual and group formats. Individual therapy focuses on developing recovery goals and addressing co-occurring disorders. In group therapy, you’re encouraged to discuss your feelings and experiences with your peers, who are going through similar situations. Common treatment modalities used in rehab may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps patients identify how their thought patterns and underlying beliefs contribute to addiction, and motivational interviewing (MI), which helps people in recovery develop motivation for change and address any resistance that arises. Facilities often also utilize dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which helps individuals overcome painful emotions and decrease conflict in their relationships through mindfulness, distress acceptance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal communication. In addition, some AAC rehabs may utilize family therapy, which allows you to heal your relationships with loved ones as you recognize the toll addiction has taken on these connections.

Some AAC facilities provide these and other evidence-based therapies for substance use in tandem with alternative therapies. Laguna Treatment Center, for instance, employs holistic healing methods, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation. Greenhouse Treatment Center offers music and art therapy, yoga, meditation, Pilates, and tai chi. Oxford Treatment Center provides hiking and equine-centric activities. Recovery First Treatment Center offers art and music therapy, mindfulness hikes, meditation, and writing workshops. And River Oaks Treatment Center offers wellness activities and art and music therapy.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

An aftercare program, sometimes called continuing care, helps bridge your time between graduating from a treatment program and returning to your home environment, responsibilities, and support system. It also helps you maintain the skills that you learned in rehab and apply them to your daily life.

Aftercare can look different for everyone and may include moving into a sober living environment; continuing to attend group therapy, support groups, or a 12-Step program; or continuing individual or family therapy as well. Whatever the right combination is for you, aftercare has myriad benefits for people newly in recovery, including being able to maintain treatment progress, preventing relapse, building self-confidence in recovery, connecting you with community resources, and rebuilding or strengthening relationships with others.

Alcohol Rehab at American Addiction Centers

There are several benefits to choosing AAC for Alcohol addiction treatment. What sets us apart from other rehab facilities is not our awards or recognition by the recovery community but our commitment to individualized treatment and long-term recovery.

We help people in active addiction find long-term relief by keeping them connected to their support system at home while engaging in high-quality treatment at an AAC rehab facility. And when it is time to graduate from treatment, we can help you to create an aftercare plan that meets your needs for re-entry into your home environment.

If you are seeking help to recover from addiction to drugs or alcohol, AAC’s helpful admissions navigator team is available today. Our facilities are accredited by the Joint Commission and hold an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, making AAC a highly reputable choice for addiction recovery. Don’t wait another day—help is available right now.

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