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Common Activities At An Inpatient Drug Rehab Center

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

February 11, 2019

Though many people may be familiar with the concept of drug rehab, not many may actually understand the inner workings of what these programs entail. There are a wide variety of treatment modalities and activities that go beyond basic therapy and work together to heal the needs of each individual.

Understanding The Purpose Of Treatment

Again, this is a subject many people may partially understand or have a preconceived notion on, however, there is yet a greater depth beyond the answer most may come to. While most may correctly state sobriety, what they may fail to comprehend, in whole, is the exact journey to a drug-free life. Sobriety does not only come by way of simply quitting drugs or alcohol, just as an addiction didn’t occur only from consuming drugs or alcohol. Due to this, we must take a step back and look at the larger picture as a whole—just as numerous factors are responsible for addiction, so should various factors be addressed within treatment.

It is because of this, that inpatient drug rehab centers offer a variety of treatment programs, modalities, and activities, all of which work together in helping a person address the complexity of their unique needs. While some are more technical or clinical, others may even be fun—today, a variety of inpatient rehabilitation centers employ a diversity of recreational techniques and therapies geared towards helping a person experience dynamic and individualized care.

Here, we’ll share with you what exactly to expect within the day-to-day happenings of a treatment program, as we outline some of the more common activities you, or your loved one will experience should you choose to enroll in an inpatient drug rehab center. Keep in mind, every program is different, nor will every program offer all of these activities. This list is not exhaustive in nature, merely a representation of some of the more common or popular activities that exist within the best inpatient drug rehabs today.

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Addressing Withdrawal—A Medical-Supported Detox

While some facilities require that you detox prior to entering a program, others actually offer a medical detox on site. This allows for a more seamless and fluid transition from this trying time, to treatment, more effectively allowing for a person to begin forging connections with staff and establishing a personal connection to their treatment.

While not every drug of abuse warrants a full medical detox, others, such as alcohol and strong opioids require an intensive, and in many cases, around the clock detoxification. During this time, a person may or may not receive various medications or nutritional supplements to help their body and brain stabilize through this trying process. These medications will not only help to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal, but also help to quell a person’s anxiety. The sooner these symptoms are under control, the quicker a person can begin investing in the next step their treatment and recovery.

Therapy And Counseling

An addiction takes a vast mental and emotional toll on a person, in a way that requires compassionate care and attention within treatment. During this time, depending on the facility and the person’s demands, various forms of counseling, such as motivational interviewing may be used, and also certain psychotherapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Therapy may be offered on an individual and/or group basis.

Family Therapy And Support — Addiction does more damage than simply to the individual who uses—a person’s family often suffers a large brunt of the harm from this destructive lifestyle. A family’s stability—economically, emotionally, and mentally—may be largely affected, in a way that breeds a slew of negative emotions, extending both from the family to the individual and vice versa.

Oftentimes, family members may actually become trapped in the cycle of addiction, though many times unknowingly, as they become tangled in patterns of enabling or co-dependency, both of which can often fuel a family member’s substance abuse.

It can be hard to forgive and unlearn negative mindsets, emotions, and behaviors, especially after witnessing a life so changed by drugs or alcohol. Because of this, family therapy and support is a critical component to many inpatient drug rehab programs. The benefit is twofold—first it allows the family a venue by which to heal, and secondly, it becomes instructive and helps them adapt to the changes and demands of their loved one’s recovery. This element of treatment can help teach a person’s family members positive ways to support, encourage, and keep their family member accountable, both within treatment and during the time after.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders — While many, if not all, of the above modalities may also be used to address dual diagnosis concerns, they are of such import in treatment and recovery, that they warrant specific attention. A co-occurring disorder is a disorder that occurs along with an addiction. These may take numerous forms, most commonly mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, or PTSD, however, some also include various medical conditions into this category.

Why is this important? Firstly, many people begin using drugs or alcohol at the onset, to self-medicate these conditions or symptoms that they present. Unfortunately, many drugs exacerbate the symptoms, thus drawing an individual into a downward spiral of continued substance abuse, to the extent an addiction is formed. Various addictions may also cause these disorders.

In order for a person to effectively find stability and freedom within a drug-free life, they need to fully eradicate as many triggers and cues as possible, while learning positive coping skills. Thusly, in order to be successful, a person needs to adjunctly treat these co-occurring disorders, so that they do not continue to aggravate a person in such a way that they relapse back to drug or alcohol use. In addition, many of the following activities may help to bolster a person’s mood and self-image in a way that encourages better mental wellness.

Recreational Therapies

These recreational activities go beyond providing a person with a sense of exhilaration or fun—while they offer these experiences, they also encourage a person to tap into a variety of other mindsets and emotions that can be positive and proactive influences on treatment and recovery.

Adventure therapy — This dynamic method may get your pulse racing, but it also encourages resilience, interpersonal skills, trust, self-confidence, and problem-solving skills, as you’re faced with challenging activities like ropes or zip-line courses, wilderness activities, among others.

Wilderness therapy — Set in wilderness settings, these programs encourage team-building and self-sufficiency both, as you contend with the diversity and challenges of nature. Sessions may include various survival skills, such as building a fire or shelter and are guided by a highly-trained staff member. Enter into the cleansing power of nature.

Holistic therapies —Yoga, massage, Reiki, and acupuncture all foster the mind-body-spirit approach this is so integral in these sessions. Some centers offer them as activities, while others base their whole approach on holistic treatment.

Art therapy — These sessions may include music, dance, or visual arts, integrated in a way that encourages self-reflection, introspection, and confidence, and may even help a person work through traumatic experiences linked to addiction.

Physical fitness — As an individual compulsively uses drugs or alcohol, they often let their physical health fall to the wayside. Physical fitness is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for anyone—especially a person in recovery. Many rehabs offer gyms, outdoor equipment, various classes, and some, even personal trainers. Strengthening your body will help to strengthen your mind, bolster your immune system, and increase your confidence.

Day-to-day recreational opportunities — Depending on the center, you may be able to take part in a variety of activities in your leisure time, including hiking, fishing, various sports, swimming, rock climbing, ropes courses, gardening, crafts, visits to a library, board games, and movies.

Other Modalities

Equine therapy — While most equine therapy programs don’t allow you to ride the horses, you’ll still work in close proximity with these powerful, yet gentle creatures, as a way to work through the complexities of addiction. Horses offer continual feedback to your emotional state in this setting, in a way that encourages healing and introspection.

Professional or executive programs —These programs are for individuals who have demanding careers and are hesitant to enter into a traditional rehab, for fear of falling behind on their responsibilities. Facilities with these offerings allow a person time to work and stay connected to their career obligations.

Additional Amenities And Activities

For far too long, many people lived in a manner during the course of their addiction that didn’t offer comfort, stability, or a focus on a person’s emotional, mental, or physical health—due to this, many sufferers of addiction may struggle to believe that a positive and engaging life exists after sobriety. Having access to these amenities and comforts during treatment can serve to not only offer a person greater stability during treatment, but a more positive perspective and example of what a balanced life can look like.

Though some of these categories may not outright be activities, their very presence may allow a person to begin to forge their own day-to-day activities or behaviors, however small, that may help to instill a more positive sense of self and purpose in their life.

The comforts of home — Simply being in an environment that is comfortable, stable, and peaceful may offer an opportunity for a person to simply do nothing—it may be in this absence of activities that a person reflect, rest, and rejuvenate for their treatment, or even journal.

Luxury accommodations — Some facilities offer luxuriously appointed amenities, en par with resort destinations. These may include elaborately appointed rooms, lushly landscaped grounds, chef services, and even golf or spa services. This setting may be similar to your lifestyle, or a treat, however you approach it, it provides a setting for you to refresh, de-stress and become reacquainted with yourself.

Spa amenities — Massage, sauna, aromatherapy, manicure and pedicure, and hair salon services help you to treat yourself, while centering yourself and detoxing emotionally.

Culinary diversity — Far too often, in the state of an addiction, a person may forget to eat or eat poorly in a way that leads to malnourishment. These offerings vary per program—with some offering chef-prepared meals, or chef-taught classes, organic meals, vegetarian or vegan meals, nutrition classes, on-site vegetable and herb gardens, and even excursions to local farmer’s markets. These elements will serve to reinstall the value of good nutrition and the excitement of taking an active role in your health.

We Can Get You Involved And Focused On Your Recovery

Treatment is by no means an easy experience, nor is it always a fun one; however, it doesn’t always have to be a process that is overwhelming or boring—a good treatment program should engage your mind, help you find sobriety, and get you excited about living a drug-free life.

It’s exciting and empowering to consider that drug or alcohol treatment doesn’t have to follow a “one-size-fits-all approach.” What this means is you, or your loved one, has the opportunity to find a treatment program that addresses your specific needs and interests, in way that will offer you the best foundation for success. Contact us today; our caring staff at is looking forward to an opportunity to help you begin your treatment journey.

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