First 48 Hours in a Chemical Dependency Program

June 23, 2014 Lauren Hardy, MA

What is it like to enter a chemical dependency program? Discover what takes place upon entering residential treatment for addiction.

What's it like when you first enter a chemical dependency program?

Chemical dependency, or addiction, is a prominent public health problem that affects millions of individuals and causes a significant amount of problems. Drug or alcohol addiction can tear families apart, leave lasting physical damage, and ultimately ruin a person’s life. (read: Effects of Drug Addiction) Trapped in the cycle of addiction, many individuals begin to feel worthless and lose all hope for the future; but it doesn't have to be that way.

Throughout my time as a substance abuse counselor, I have worked with many individuals who were at different stages in the recovery process. In the beginning, many of my clients didn’t believe that sobriety was possible. In fact, some of them thought that their entire life was going to revolve around obtaining, using, and recovering from drugs and/or alcohol (read: Drug Addicts: Drug Addict Symptoms and Life of Drug Addict). However, today many of these same individuals will tell you not to give up, that recovery is possible.

Change is never easy and this can be especially true when facing the disease of addiction. If you are a struggling addict, one of the hardest things you can do is accept that you have a problem and decide to commit to achieving a life of sobriety.

Treatment program: Lauren Hardy M.A., writes on behalf of Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center which offers an excellent alcohol and drug addiction program designed to address the needs of the whole person and set them on the right path to recovery.

Entering A Chemical Dependency Program

Evaluation and Detoxification

What is it like to enter a chemical dependency program? Discover what takes place upon entering residential treatment for addiction.After committing to changing your life for the better and determining which drug addiction rehab center to go to (read: Different Alcohol Treatment Programs Work for Different People), you will first have to complete an initial assessment before any treatment can begin. An intake assessment for a chemical dependency program usually involves collecting biological, social, psychological, and personal history information, all gathered through interviews, evaluations, and diagnostic screenings. While it may seem like a lot, it is important to gather as much information as possible so that the mental health professionals are able to determine the level of involvement you have with drugs and/or alcohol, as well as to determine the proper addiction treatment approaches for your personal needs.

The next step for many addicts, before any true healing can begin, is to completely detoxify and withdraw the body from all addictive substances. The detoxification process is designed to treat both acute physiological effects of quitting drug use and to remove all of the toxins in the body that have built up as a result of drug or alcohol abuse (read: Alcohol Detox and Alcohol Detox Symptoms: What to Expect). When done in a rehab center, the detox process provides patients with constant monitoring to ensure safety and offers a secure environment free from the temptation of substances. Only after the detoxification process has been completed can an individual begin the therapeutic aspect of chemical dependency treatment and continue the journey to recovery.

First Few Days in a Residential Treatment Program

After completing a detoxification program, many individuals choose to continue treatment in a residential treatment program. Residential treatment programs for chemical dependency can be extremely helpful because they have the ability to help individuals change the habits and thought patterns that encourage addiction. This stage of treatment is where the real work toward sobriety begins.

Once you have been transferred to the residential treatment unit, you will be assigned a room and bed where you will stay throughout the duration of the program. Next, during the first few days, you will meet with your psychiatrist, counselor, and other members of your treatment team who will work with you to lay out a complete addiction treatment plan for your stay. As part of the treatment plan, you will identify specific treatment goals that you have for yourself and bring up any concerns that you may have.

Almost immediately, you will be introduced to a consistent routine, which is followed on a daily basis and is meant to provide you with a sense of structure and security. The therapeutic process will begin by learning about the disease of addiction, meeting in group counseling sessions, and becoming familiar with the concept and process of a support network through 12-step meetings. Additionally, you will typically meet one-on-one with your counselors within the first few days to begin your individual therapy and also, if needed, meet with your psychiatrist for medication management.

The first few days in a residential treatment program can be difficult and it takes time to adjust to an intensive therapeutic environment. It is common for individuals to miss their family and friends, some may start to rethink their decision to enter treatment, and others may begin to experience a wide range of emotions they may not have recognized before. It is important to remember that this is all part of the healing process and you will be provided with the support you need as you continue down your path toward recovery.

This article is part 1 of a 3 part series.

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APA Reference
Hardy, L. (2014, June 23). First 48 Hours in a Chemical Dependency Program, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Lauren Hardy, MA

Nash Rich
April, 7 2016 at 4:54 pm

I think it's really important for addicts to know and believe that recovery is possible, otherwise I don't think they'll make much progress. I'm not familiar with how chemical addiction recovery really works, so this was helpful. I think it would be hard to stay in a place for a while at receive treatment, but I'm sure it's worth it to get your freedom from addiction.

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