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What Is A Typical Day In Rehab Like?

by Landmark Recovery

October 8, 2018
A group of individuals sitting outside and talking about the different programs offered at their rehab program

Taking the first steps to enroll in rehab for treatment of drug and alcohol dependency can be a frightening endeavor. Many prospective patients may be admitting that they have a problem for the first time. They may be unsure of what kinds of programs and people they will encounter while in treatment. They may also fear lost time away from work and their families while in rehab. If you or a loved are considering enrolling in some kind of treatment center, here’s a breakdown of what you can possibly expect on a day-to-day basis.


Residential Treatment

A medical doctor taking notes about a patient entering a residential drug rehab program

At Landmark Recovery, the residential treatment program is designed to help stabilize and improve the life functionality of patients. Before beginning, patients must be substance-free. As such, any patients actively using before entering residential treatment will undergo detoxification. Detox can last anywhere from a couple days to more than a week, and some patients may be able to transfer from an outside detox facility to Landmark pending an approval from the Medical Director. The residential treatment program is designed to be 30 days in length, but each individual patient’s duration depends on their unique conditions.


Morning – Wake Up and Breakfast

Rehab is carefully structured so that patients have a balance of rigid structure and free time. Not all treatment centers operate the same way, but many have a standard wake up time every day. This helps patients develop a healthy routine and makes sure that everyone is able to get breakfast together and operate on the same timetable. Sleeping is not part of treatment, so expect to rise early in the morning.

Many facilities may use the wake-up hour to conduct vitals and medical check-ups. Patients then eat breakfast in a shared cafeteria or dining area. A typical treatment center may allow patients some leeway after breakfast to enjoy a bit of free time, where patients can return to their room, read a book, take a walk, exercise, or perhaps socialize.


Early Afternoon – Group or Individual Therapy

The early afternoon and mid-day period is an intensive time of treatment at many facilities. This can be comprised of both group and individual therapy sessions. Patients will typically be assigned to therapists and counselors in either group blocks or assigned to meet with their individual clinician.


Group Therapy

Patients will convene in a group setting with one or more therapists/counselors to learn about the recovery process. Topics can range from 12-Step, SMART Recovery, and Seeking Safety to broader topics such as family dynamics, the disease of addiction, and skills for fighting cravings. Group therapy may sound like the last place you want to deal with your personal issues, but the truth is that many patients share similar stories and points of view. At Landmark, patients receive at least 21 hours of group therapy per week. Group therapy helps foster openness and honesty and is a great chance to offer support to fellow patients in recovery. It may be difficult at first, but sharing stories can help build camaraderie, relieve burdens, and allow for emotional healing. Many friendships forged in group therapy can last well into recovery.


Individual Therapy

Patients may also participate in individual therapy in the afternoons. This portion of treatment can be the backbone of treatment, as it provides the kind of personal and deep recovery work that an individual needs to maintain sobriety in the long term. Each individual therapy session takes place between the patient and their assigned therapist. At Landmark, patients are guaranteed at least 2 hours of individual therapy sessions per week, the frequency of which are determined by the medical director. Topics covered can include:

  • Personal history
  • Mental health care (dual diagnosis)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most useful tools used in addiction treatment centers. CBT is typically conducted in individual therapy because it asks the patient to address specific and personal triggers that lead to substance abuse. Once these trigger moments are identified, the therapist will work to help the patient develop healthier responses to those triggers and defeat negative modes of thinking. In these one-on-one sessions, patients will be asked to open up and discuss some of their deepest insecurities, fears, and more. Although it may feel painful, the result is incredibly beneficial.


Afternoon – Lunch & Group Activities

It’s equally important to spend time socializing with other patients as it is to get tasty and quality meals. Lunches are often shared in treatment centers and offer a chance for patients to fraternize and learn about one another outside of sessions. Lunch menus and eating schedules are different among facilities, but safe to say the staff will do their best to provide a varied and nutritious menu. At Landmark Recovery, lunch takes place at 11:45, and patients are able to request snacks and water at any time from staff.

In the afternoon, patients may be ready for a break from traditional therapy sessions. At this point in the day, many facilities offer alternative sessions for treatment, such as music therapy, fitness activities, or other enrichment activities. Typically, patients will take part in group activities that add a little bit of levity and enjoyment to the recovery process. Some facilities also offer lectures and seminars from guest speakers, and on special occasions may invite performers or a local sports celebrity to come by. Patients will usually take part in further group or individual therapy sessions following lunch. These sessions are assigned based on overlapping patient needs and further address topics that have been raised in prior sessions.


Evening – Dinner and Meeting

At Landmark, dinner takes place at 5:00. After a shared meal in the cafeteria or dining room, many treatment centers will ask patients to take part in a 12 Step or similarly structured meeting. In a 12 Step meeting, there is typically no set structure or topic to follow and patients are able to voluntarily give voice to their thoughts. This can involve storytelling, feedback on activities, advice for other patients, questions about treatment, and more. These meetings provide a safe and structured environment for patients to unwind, process the day’s learning, and share with their peers. Bedtime is encouraged at a reasonable hour and patients have the chance to shower and take care of hygiene needs.


Intensive Outpatient

A group of individuals taking notes during an IOP session

Intensive Outpatient Program (also known as IOP for “Intensive Outpatient Program”) is a primary treatment program recommended by clinicians and medical staff for many individuals newly sober or in need of continuing resources to help with addiction when first starting rehab. IOP may be recommended for those who do not need medically-supervised detox and also to those who completed a detox and residential drug and alcohol program. In IOP, patients can continue to attend to life’s responsibilities, including work, social, and familial obligations while attending therapy sessions.

At Landmark Rehab, the intensive outpatient program is designed to offer patients a multi-modal, multidisciplinary program that is more intensive than outpatient therapy. This program is typically recommended for those transitioning from Landmark’s detoxification and residential treatment programs. Sessions for intensive outpatient take place within the outpatient services building, with hours from 8 AM to 10 PM. The schedule and criteria are broken up as follows:


  • Sessions are held at least 3 hours per day for at least 3 days per week
  • Sessions will be determined by need according to the medical director, but can include:
    • Individual therapy
    • Family therapy
    • Crisis intervention,
    • Rehabilitation services
    • Case management services
    • SMART Recovery
  • Session blocks are broken up as follows:
    • 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    • 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
    • 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM


During their stay in intensive outpatient care, patients will be provided with an individualized treatment plan, a behavioral health professional, access to psychiatrists, nurses, and drug and alcohol counselors. When outside of Landmark facilities, patients will have the chance to contact staff, as per our On Call Corporate Policy.


Programs You’ll Encounter in Recovery

A group of individuals sitting outside and talking about the different programs offered at their rehab program

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Specific medications can play a vital role in recovery to help manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and potentially help with co-occurring disorders that may be present.


Therapy and Counseling

As stated above, patients in rehab will encounter multiple types of therapy while enrolled in treatment. During these therapy sessions, patients can expect to delve into triggers for substance use, self-destructive thinking, family systems, and more. These sessions revolve around improving self-esteem and building the skills it takes to manage your addiction in the long-term.


Educational Programs

Educational programs offered in rehab will help a person learn more about the disease of addiction so that they have a better grasp of why it takes continued work to ensure sobriety. These programs can cover a wide variety of topics and may even be given by guest speakers.


Nutrition Planning

Physical health is just as important to continued sobriety as mental health. With structured meal schedules and nutritious menu options, patients can learn what goes into a balanced diet and what it feels like to reap the benefits of one. Proper nutrition and hydration can help to relieve stress and regulate emotions, helping the body and brain to heal. Patients will be served foods rich in vitamins and minerals and low in refined sugars and saturated fats.



Holistic treatment centers incorporate some sort of structured exercise program or provide facilities for patients to exercise in during their free time. Exercise is a helpful tool for curbing cravings, improving mood, and re-stabilizing the brain.


Support Group Meetings

Support group meetings take place outside of group therapy sessions and allow for patients to express themselves in a more free platform. Based on the 12 Step model, these meetings are designed to provide a safe and structured environment where people can share stories, offer support, and build their network of fellow people in recovery.


Family Programs

There are many different ways for families to get involved in recovery. Some treatment facilities may offer family therapy sessions that relatives may attend on-premise, while others may offer educational programs outside of the facility to help family members, friends, and locals to better understand the disease of addiction.


In Conclusion

Individuals can be apprehensive about rehab for a variety of reasons. However, by knowing more about the schedule, types of therapies you’ll encounter, and recognizing that drug and alcohol rehab is a chance to open up and receive support from people struggling through similar circumstances, it can become a time to look forward to and even enjoy. To learn more about the specific programs that Landmark Recovery offers, visit our website or call our admissions line at 888-448-0302.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.