Home » Articles » The complete guide to what happens in a rehabilitation center

Getting yourself admitted to rehab is not an easy choice, but a huge step toward recovery. Because, when you use substances like alcohol, drugs or medicines, your body gets used to them. If you then want to stop, a detox under medical supervision may be necessary. After physical detox, you follow psychological treatment in a rehabilitation center to understand your addiction and prevent a relapse.

Types of addiction

There are different types of addictions. Here, we distinguish between substance, drug and behavioural addictions. For instance, you can be dependent on a substance such as alcohol or drugs, as well as medications such as painkillers or anxiety suppressants. Behavioural addictions again refer to compulsive performance of a certain behaviour such as gambling, for example. Below you will find more information on these three types of addiction.

Drug addiction

Drug addiction is maintained by continuous use and usually has a direct effect on the reward centre in the brain. We then refer to it as a psychoactive substance or drug.

Within these substances, we again differentiate. For example, you can be addicted to:

  • Stimulants such as amphetamine, cocaine and XTC.
  • Narcotic drugs such as alcohol, heroin, opium and marijuana.
  • Mind-altering or mind-altering substances, such as LSD and magic mushrooms.

Prescription drug addiction

Prescription drug addiction is a type of addiction that often goes unnoticed. You often have a good reason to start taking a drug and, after all, it is a legal substance. Despite the fact that anxiety suppressants and sleep aids are known to be addictive, these substances are prescribed because they can reduce the symptoms of a problem.

However, anxiety suppressants and sleep aids do not solve the problem, and as you use more and longer, a dependence on these substances develops. This is often the case with benzodiazepines such as diazepam, oxazepam and lorazepam or opiate-based painkillers.

Behavioral addiction

A behavioral addiction can also seriously disrupt your life and can have a major impact physically, mentally and financially. For example, an eating addiction can lead to obesity and health issues. While a buying addiction or bitcoin addiction can have a devastating effect on your financial situation.

Other examples of behavioral addictions include:

Physical and mental addictions

Physical addiction occurs because the body has become accustomed to and adapted to a substance being used. Tolerance to a substance develops and more and more is needed to achieve the same effect. When its use is stopped, symptoms of illness such as fever, insomnia, and vomiting develop. These are withdrawal or withdrawal symptoms.

In mental addiction, a person may crave a substance so much that all thoughts revolve around using and obtaining it. Mental addiction can disrupt the chemical balance within the brain and therefore also have a physical impact. This is also the case with behavioral addictions, for example, where certain actions cause dopamine to be released.

What happens in a rehabilitation center?

Treatment in a rehabilitation center is tailored to your specific addiction and your personal situation. Every person is different, which requires a personalised approach to achieve the most successful outcome. Broadly speaking, a rehab treatment program follows the following steps:


After your arrival in a rehabilitation center, it is first necessary to get completely sober and get most of the addictive substances out of your body. This detoxification period takes a few days to weeks, depending on the substance(s) you are addicted to. During this period, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, agitation, and anxiety, depressive feelings, and insomnia. You will be intensively supervised and medically monitored by experienced doctors during this phase of the process. This way, you can be sure that your detoxification period is safe and as comfortable as possible.

Treatment and therapy

Once all the toxins and addictive substances are largely out of your system, you will notice that you become increasingly lucid. You wake up, so to speak, from a stupor you may have lived in for years. This is when psychological treatment for your addiction is started. You have sessions with a psychologist to learn to understand why you became addicted and what is needed to prevent this from happening again in the future. You attend individual and group therapies and have the opportunity to participate in various activities, such as sports and exercise, creative sessions and relaxation activities.

Preparing for life after rehab

The real work begins when you leave rehab. You have spent a period in a safe environment where the focus was largely on you. Now you are returning to your old environment, where there is suddenly a lot less guidance and control. How do you avoid falling back into your old behaviour? And how do you make sure you maintain your new rhythm and activities? Moreover, how do you make sure you know what your triggers are and how do you deal with cravings (the craving for an addictive substance)? In the final phase of your inpatient treatment, you will be prepared for this in detail, so that you can return to your own environment with confidence.

Therapies in a rehabilitation center

When drawing up a treatment plan, the form(s) of therapy are chosen based on the person’s problems. The following therapies are regularly used (however, there other therapies could also be used which aren’t mentioned here):

Psycho education

Psycho education is a form of treatment in which an expert healthcare professional educates you on what is actually going on. How does addiction actually work? Where does it come from? And what can be done about it? Understanding what is going on helps to create the right mindset to accept and start changing your situation.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on modifying behaviour by actively working with automatic and unconscious thought patterns.

It is based on the idea that it is not so much certain past events that cause us to behave in a certain way, but that the way we think about those events is largely responsible for our self-image, sense of identity and thought patterns.

The aim of cognitive behavioural therapy is to transform negative thought patterns into more positive and constructive ones.


EMDR is best known as a successful form of treatment for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Today, the therapy is used in many more mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, severe stress, panic attacks, grief counselling and addictions.

The aim of EMDR is to process unprocessed negative memories or past experiences and soothe intense emotions that arise from these memories.

Do you have flashbacks, nightmares, fears or are your relationships, work or sleep disrupted by an unpleasant memory or event? EMDR can be a suitable treatment method for anyone whose daily life is hindered by traumatic past experiences.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a method in which a weak direct current affects the functioning of brain cells.

A positive electrode has an excitatory effect on underlying neurons. The brain cells become more sensitive, allowing them to ‘fire’ more easily and quickly. A negative electrode has just the opposite effect. The activity of underlying brain cells decreases, causing them to ‘fire’ less and transmit less information.

The result of the stimulation depends on the brain area being affected. After all, brain areas have their own specific functions. TDCS does not always have an immediate effect, usually several sessions have to be performed before the result can be evaluated. When the patient notices an improvement, the after-effect can vary from a few weeks to several years.


There are different types of addiction, drugs-, prescription drugs-, behavioral-, physical- and mental addictions. This can lead to a person realizing that he/she needs to go to a rehabilitation center. The first stage will be the detox. Followed by the therapies. We have mentioned a few therapies here that can be used such as; psycho education, CBT, EMDR and TDCS. A person in a rehabilitation center will also get prepared for life after rehab.

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