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What to Expect from Residential Alcohol Rehab 

One of the most common questions we get here at Landmark Recovery is what to expect from residential alcohol rehab.


If you have a moderate or severe alcohol use disorder, you would probably benefit from inpatient treatment. For mild alcohol use disorder, outpatient programs can be highly effective.


Inpatient treatment, or residential rehab, is a formal program lasting from one to three months. You remain at the center for the duration of treatment. Here at Landmark, we have multiple locations nationwide.


The precise length of the program will hinge on variables including:



In most cases, insurance will not meet all the costs of a residential program. If you’re running into difficulties with financing, you should consider the cost of not treating your addiction.


Assuming alcohol abuse has rendered your life unworkable and you’re ready to commit to a stint in residential rehab, what can you expect day-to-day?


What To Expect from Residential Rehab for Alcohol Use Disorder

When you first arrive at the treatment center, expect a thorough physical examination along with bloodwork.


You’ll be asked a range of questions concerning your physical and mental health.


Detox is only the first stage of an ongoing process, but it’s a vital step and one without which nothing else can get traction.


Medical Detox

In the event of alcohol use disorder severe enough to warrant a trip to residential rehab, medical detox is usually recommended.


The length of detoxification will depend on how much you’ve been drinking, and for how long you’ve been abusing alcohol. Typically, mild symptoms of withdrawal manifest from six to twelve hours after your last drink. These include:


  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


After 24 hours of abstinence, you may become disoriented. At this point, tremors and seizures can occur.


48 hours after the last drink, severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can present, including:


  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia


In severe cases, you might experience DTs (delirium tremens).


If you have been abusing alcohol long-term, you could experience PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). Symptoms of PAWS include:


  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Mood swings 
  • Reduced libido


During detox, you’ll eat healthy food and take plenty of water onboard to more efficiently flush toxins from your system.


Medications can be prescribed to help ease withdrawal symptoms, including benzodiazepines along with anti-seizure and anti-nausea medications. FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder are:



After 5 to 10 days, you’ll be detoxed with all toxins purged from your system. The next stage of treatment is to engage with a variety of evidence-based therapies.


Treatment Program for Alcohol Use Disorder 

Here are some of the most common therapies in residential rehab applicable to alcohol use disorder.


  • CBT: With CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), you’ll learn how to pinpoint the triggers that cause you to drink abusively. This form of psychotherapy will also help you explore healthier coping strategies that don’t involve reaching for a bottle
  • CM: Contingency management is a form of therapy that incentivizes healthy behavior, helping to encourage abstinence while recalibrating your brain’s reward system
  • Family therapy: Alcohol abuse invariably creates stress and friction in your interpersonal relationships. Family therapy can help you to heal those rifts and to hone your communication skills to help you grow closer as a family
  • Group counseling: With group counseling, you’ll benefit from the support and input of people experiencing similar challenges. You’ll also have the opportunity to share your recovery journey and inspire others
  • Individual counseling: With one-to-one counseling, you can probe the underlying causes for your addiction to alcohol while formulating strategies to stay sober
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness therapy can help you focus fully on the present to maximize the benefits you’ll reap while in residential rehab
  • Recreation therapy: Most good inpatient treatment programs incorporate a range of recreation, adventure, and holistic therapies to encourage whole-body healing
  • 12-step groups: 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are a vital part of recovery for many people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder


What are The Key Benefits of Inpatient Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder?


  • Around-the-clock medical support: If you attempt to detox from severe alcohol use disorder at home, it will be uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous. With residential rehab, qualified medical staff are on hand at all times
  • Avoid triggers for alcohol abuse: If you have an unstable or unsupportive home environment, inpatient treatment provides you with a cocooned environment. Residential rehab is also an alcohol-free setting
  • Benefit from medication-assisted treatment if appropriate: Whether you need FDA-approved medications to lessen withdrawal symptoms or you need help sleeping or combating anxiety, MAT in a controlled backdrop is a key benefit of residential rehab
  • Learn and implement new habits: Spending your time with others undergoing the same process of adjustment can be highly beneficial. Together, you’ll learn new and healthier habits crucial for sustained sobriety. You might also rediscover old interests and hobbies as you move away from drinking destructively
  • Nutritional component: If you’ve been abusing alcohol, chances are you haven’t been eating well. You’ll enjoy nutrient-dense meals provided three times daily in inpatient treatment centers. Strengthen your system for ongoing recovery without needing to lift a finger
  • Structured program: Days in residential rehab are by design highly structured. You’ll have no time to get bored and you won’t need to organize your own day either. If your life when drinking to excess had become formless, it’s time to reclaim some structure to your days


What Comes Next

If you’re struggling with moderate or severe alcohol use disorder, you would likely find inpatient treatment the best route to recovery.


Free of the triggers that lead you to abuse alcohol and benefiting from medication-assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms, residential treatment at Landmark Recovery has helped thousands of people just like you.


To get things started, call our team today at 888-448-0302.

About the Author


Landmark Recovery Staff

This post was written by a Landmark Recovery staff member. If you have any questions, please contact us at 888-448-0302.

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