Inpatient Drug Treatment Programs | All About Residential Rehab

Inpatient Treatment

For many people struggling with drug addiction, inpatient drug treatment programs present an effective first step towards achieving sobriety. Inpatient drug rehab may enable these individuals to focus exclusively on safely withdrawing from drugs, educating themselves on addiction, and developing effective skills and strategies for continuing recovery after treatment.1

How Effective Are Inpatient Drug Treatment Programs?

The main goal of drug addiction inpatient treatment is to stop drug abuse and help the struggling individuals return to productive functioning in their community, family, and workplace.1 Research shows that inpatient drug rehab can be quite effective at achieving these goals. Many individuals who enter a treatment program at an inpatient facility and remain in treatment have a greater likelihood of stopping their drug use, decreasing criminal activity, and improving their social, psychological, and occupational functioning.1

However, it is important to keep in mind that the outcomes of inpatient drug treatment programs may depend on the exact nature and extent of the patient’s drug abuse, as well as the quality of treatment offered. Addiction is a chronic disease that, like many other chronic medical illnesses, can be managed successfully, but the path to recovery may not be easy.1

Unfortunately, many consider inpatient treatment a failure when relapse occurs. This is not the case, since successful treatment requires continual evaluation and adjustments to maximize the patient’s chances of recovery.2 Response to drug addiction treatment is often not a matter of total failure or complete success. Instead, it may have more to do with degrees of improvement and modifying the treatment modalities to best suit the needs of the patient at the current stage of treatment.2

inpatient drug addiction treatment:definition, program & rehab facilities

How Does Inpatient Drug Treatment Work?

Although treatment options for drug addiction may vary, inpatient treatment programs typically consist of the following distinct stages:3

  1. Intake assessments

While not all inpatient drug treatment facilities use the same intake process, this phase is likely to involve discussing your treatment options with a professional.4 The goal of the intake process is to evaluate the patient’s needs and develop a tailored plan. During intake, the treatment professional might perform comprehensive assessments and testing, including medical examinations, psychological assessments, and psychosocial evaluations.4

  1. Medical detox

Physical dependence on certain substances, such as heroin and prescription opioids, is associated with markedly unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.5 Safe medical detox administered at an inpatient drug treatment facility can help ease these symptoms and benefit many individuals struggling with drug abuse. Whether the patient needs medically assisted detox and the exact medications provided will depend on the type of substance being abused and the severity of addiction.5

  1. Rehabilitation

The next stage in drug addiction treatment is rehab. During this stage, the patient undergoes a treatment program carefully tailored to their specific needs. The rehabilitation phase may include individual behavioral therapy, family and group therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders, faith-based treatment options, holistic treatment, and many other treatment options depending on the facility.3

  1. Aftercare

Addiction recovery is a lifelong process. Before a patient leaves an inpatient drug treatment facility, they may discuss aftercare options with the treatment professionals. While the particular components of aftercare may vary depending on the patient’s needs, post-rehab individual and group therapy sessions may assist the patient in returning to their daily life and increase their chances of achieving long-term recovery. Aftercare may include 12-step groups, individual counseling and therapy, sober living, and more.6

What to Consider Before Entering Inpatient Drug Rehab

In addition to the drug treatment options offered, an individual seeking treatment may also take into account different features and amenities provided at inpatient facilities.7 This may include the payment options and insurance coverage, quality of food, or unique amenities such as equestrian therapy and spa-like environments.

If you are dealing with drug addiction or have a loved one who is, discussing your treatment needs with an admission navigator can be a great first step toward successful recovery. A professional can help introduce you to the available inpatient treatment programs and amenities, and start creating a treatment plan carefully tailored to your unique needs.



Frequently Asked Questions

  • Inpatient drug treatment facilities may offer addiction treatment for a variety of substances, including heroin, cocaine, cannabis, prescription drugs, amphetamines, and more. Certain treatment facilities may specialize in treating dependence on specific substances, such as opioids or heroin. On the other hand, some facilities may have a wider range of treatment options, offering everything from inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse to highly specialized treatment programs for prescription opioids. Different substances may also require different forms of treatment. For instance, an individual dealing with addiction to prescription opioids may need a highly specific medical detox that wouldn’t be needed in the case of a different substance abuse situation.5If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to a specific substance or multiple substances, it may be a good idea to explore the different treatment options available and seek out facilities that would be able to meet your unique needs. Overall, inpatient drug treatment programs aim to provide patients with 24/7 personalized care and support and set them up for successful long-term recovery.3

  • Although the terms inpatient drug treatment and residential drug treatment are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same.8

    Inpatient Drug Treatment

    The term inpatient drug treatment typically refers to the structured treatment offered at hospital-like facilities. In most cases, these types of treatment programs entail safe medical detox and around-the-clock monitoring, although the exact definition of inpatient treatment may vary depending on the specific facility.8

    In general, patients who enter inpatient drug rehab remain at a facility 24/7 where they undergo a carefully tailored recovery process. This level of care is often a good option for individuals with more severe substance use disorders as well as those who are just starting out in recovery and need more structured support.8

    Residential Drug Treatment

    A residential drug treatment program, on the other hand, may entail a more home-like atmosphere, where patients have their own living area or share their space with a roommate. Such facilities may provide more freedom and amenities, and might last longer than a typical inpatient drug treatment program. It is important to keep in mind, however, that many inpatient treatment facilities would also be considered residential and may offer the same array of amenities, albeit with a more structured treatment regime.8

  • Most health insurance plans in the U.S. will cover at least some types of drug addiction inpatient treatment. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires private insurance companies to provide some forms of addiction treatment coverage.9 This may include inpatient and specialized outpatient drug treatment, medical detox, co-occurring disorder treatment, and follow-up care. However, your particular coverage will depend on a number of factors, including your particular health care plan, the state you live in, and the insurance company in question. If you are considering inpatient drug treatment, you may want to familiarize yourself with the various payment options offered by different facilities. Many will accept both private and state-funded insurance, as well as private payments for those who do not have any form of insurance.If you are unsure whether your specific insurance plan would cover inpatient treatment, detoxification, or other forms of treatment, reaching out to an admission navigator may be the best course of action.



1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). How Effective Is Drug Addiction Treatment?.

2. Institute of Medicine, Committee for the Substance Abuse Coverage Study. (1990). Treating Drug Problems: Volume 1: A Study of the Evolution, Effectiveness, and Financing of Public and Private Drug Treatment Systems. The Effectiveness of Treatment. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1990. 5.

3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.

4. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons With Co-Occurring Disorders. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 42. 4 Assessment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US).

5. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. 4 Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US).

6. McKay J. R. (2009). Continuing Care Research: What We Have Learned and Where We Are Going. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 36(2), 131–145.

7. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47. Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US).

8. American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015). What are the ASAM levels of care?.

9. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (U.S.). (2020). Affordable Care Act (ACA).