What happens inside rehab?

Addiction can be very difficult to cope with. Unfortunately for many people, however, the idea of starting addiction rehab is too intimidating. This can potentially prevent individuals from accessing appropriate support, meaning that there is a high unmet treatment need in the UK. One of the best ways to address this treatment need is by offering transparent, accessible information on what happens in rehab. By providing a clear sense of what to expect during your treatment, we aim to alleviate anxiety and potentially dispel some of the myths around what happens in rehabilitation centres. 

What is rehabilitation?

The purpose of rehabilitation is to facilitate recovery from addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease that can very significantly affect the lives of individuals living with it.

Currently, it has been estimated that:

  • 47% of opiate users
  • 60% of crack users
  • and 83% of individuals addicted to alcohol 

are not receiving the treatment that they need. 

The goal of rehabilitation is to make addiction recovery accessible. More specifically, the aim of recovery for the individual is to:

  • reduce reliance on substances 
  • reduce reliance on harmful behaviours 
  • build positive coping skills 
  • build distress tolerance
  • address underlying health issues (physical and mental)
  • address underlying trauma or other causes of addiction
  • increase confidence 
  • increase feelings of agency and accountability 
  • increase general wellbeing

We can think of this happening through six key processes:

  • Assessment and admission 
  • Therapeutic intervention 
  • Medical support 
  • Life skill development 
  • Family involvement 
  • Establishing aftercare support 

Assessment and admission to a rehabilitation clinic will always come first, and aftercare support always ends your addiction rehab. But between these initial and final phases, you will find that your support is frequently multilayered in order to provide a holistic form of care.

Assessment and admission 

When you first begin your rehab journey, you will likely be admitted to a rehab centre. During this time, you will be asked a series of questions and will undergo a range of screenings so that the staff supporting you can get a full picture of your current needs. This may include:

  • Interviews
  • Medical examinations
  • Psychiatric evaluations

Screenings are the foundation of your rehab treatment. This phase is all about getting to know you and your needs more, so you must be as honest as you can be at this stage. The professionals are not trying to catch you out – they are there to help you and will remain patient, sensitive and impartial throughout the process. You may be asked questions about your physical and mental health, your previous history with substances and your safety more generally. This will allow clinicians to put into place the most appropriate forms of support for you at this stage.

Therapeutic intervention 

We can think of therapy as one of the key foundations of rehab treatment. The types of therapy you experience can be very broad and may include any of the following:

  • 1-1 Therapy
  • Alcohol counselling 
  • Group Therapy
  • Meditation and Mindfulness 
  • Trauma Therapy 

Addiction treatment typically incorporates several approaches, meaning that your experience with therapy may blend support groups and holistic therapy with psychotherapeutic strategies.

Medical support 

Addiction affects both the body and the mind. This means that it is important to pay attention to the ways in which rehab can benefit us physically as well as mentally. You may come across the term medical assisted therapy (or MAT). This refers to any treatment that also incorporates pharmaceuticals or other medical support, such as:

A detox phase is quite common in the treatment of substance use disorders, as it allows the body to get used to functioning in the absence of drugs. This can be uncomfortable at first, as the body can experience withdrawal symptoms. Some forms of withdrawing – such as withdrawing from opioids – are associated with higher levels of discomfort and so are often treated through a form of medically assisted therapy, which may include the use of prescription methadone, for instance. 

Life skill development 

Addiction often has a ripple effect; its impact can sometimes be felt by those closest to us. For that reason, rehab offers the opportunity to integrate your loved ones into your rehab experience. This can happen in multiple ways, such as:

  • Healthy eating 
  • Physical exercise
  • Mindfulness practice 
  • Development of coping mechanisms
  • Stress management techniques 

Family involvement 

Addiction often has a ripple effect; its impact can sometimes be felt by those closest to us. For that reason, rehab offers the opportunity to integrate your loved ones into your rehab experience. This can happen in multiple ways, such as:

  • Family therapy 
  • Education programmes 
  • Support groups 

This can focus on educating your loved ones on addiction, on allowing you a safe space to voice your thoughts and feelings to your family, or even provide programmes of support for your loved ones themselves. 

Establishing aftercare support 

Rehabilitation does not end once you leave a clinic. Recovery is a process. It is consistently worked on over time. This is known as ‘active recovery.’ An essential part of this is aftercare. Before you leave rehab, you will have the opportunity to work with a clinician to develop a personalised plan for ongoing support. This can be helpful in easing the adjustment of leaving the rehab setting, and also in maintaining focus, motivation and accountability in the longer term.

Want to know more?

Curious about what truly happens inside rehab? Whether you’re battling addiction or just feeling nervous about the process, we’re here to guide you. At UKAT, we understand the apprehension surrounding rehab. But rest assured, it’s a journey toward healing and transformation.


Our dedicated team is ready to answer your questions, alleviate your concerns, and shed light on what to expect during rehab. Don’t let fear hold you back from reclaiming your life. Take the first step toward recovery by reaching out to us today.