What Are the Four Stages of Rehab? Explaining the Recovery Process

Man treating a woman in a rehab centre.

There are numerous reasons why seeking help for addiction can seem intimidating. You might be concerned about the discomfort of withdrawal or the challenges of staying in a rehab center. Additionally, there might be fears about lacking the necessary support to start and sustain your recovery journey. New Method Wellness acknowledge these apprehensions and have developed a wellness center that addresses your concerns while offering the support you need to achieve and maintain sobriety. Our Southern California detox facility is designed to provide nurturing care as you undergo the process of eliminating drugs or alcohol from your system.

Recovery from addiction, whether that’s a substance-use disorder or alcohol disorder, takes time and requires adequate support, care, and help from a professional. At first, the idea of rehab may seem scary – after all, you’re stepping outside your comfort zone and into foreign territory.

The truth is, you’re not alone. According to the 2021 Drug Report, issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there are an estimated 36 million people across the world with a drug-use disorder.

Knowing what the rehabilitation process is like and what you can expect could help relieve some of this worry and make it easier to take that first step to recovery. The four stages of rehab include treatment initiation, early abstinence, maintaining abstinence, and advanced recovery.

The Four Stages of Rehab

Let’s take a closer look at each of the four stages:

1.   Treatment Initiation

As soon as you make that first step and reach out for help, you’ve begun the first stage of rehab: treatment initiation. This is a crucial stage and will involve medical professionals analysing your medical history, in order to draw up a personalised treatment program that suits your unique needs exactly.

This is also a stage where you and your main care provider will explore the effects of your addiction and any feelings of denial or anger that you may have. This is essential, as denial can be a major roadblock when it comes to recovery. It’s key that you work through these feelings and acknowledge that you have a problem before committing to treatment.

2.   Early Abstinence

The second stage of rehab is known as ‘early abstinence’. This is a real turning point in your recovery journey and will involve detoxing from alcohol and/or drugs completely. This is known as medical detox, in which professionals will slowly wean your body off drugs and/or alcohol. Many people cite early abstinence as one of the most challenging stages of rehab, but with the right support and care, you will be able to make it through successfully.

During this stage, you will experience withdrawal symptoms – this is simply your body’s reaction to being weaned off drugs and/or alcohol. Withdrawal can range from mild and moderate to severe, causing symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach aches
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Tremors and shakes
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart-rate
  • Shivers
  • Muscle pain

Though withdrawal can be uncomfortable, medical professionals can provide you with medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms, ensuring that you sleep better and get through your recovery journey a lot easier.

You’ll also regularly attend therapy sessions, group activities, and be encouraged to open up and participate in fun and healthy activities (i.e., team-building exercises, art therapy, sport, and cooking). You may also experience intense triggers and cravings during this stage of rehab, but you’ll be given the tools and resources needed to manage and cope with them effectively.

3.   Maintaining Abstinence

The third stage of rehab is known as ‘maintaining abstinence’, and usually occurs after 90 days of treatment, detox, and therapy. In a treatment centre, this is known as ‘after-care’ or follow-up treatment and often means you’ll be integrating back into ‘normal life’ and putting all the tools and coping strategies you’ve learned to the test.

During this stage, you’ll truly start to work towards a sober and drug-free life. You’ll need to analyse and reassess your life, friendships, and hobbies – removing those that are harmful to your recovery journey (ie., hanging around people who take drugs or going to bars).

Some of the things and healthy habits you might start putting into practice include:

  • Building new friendships
  • Regularly visiting support groups
  • Finding healthy ways to deal with emotions such as anger and sadness, as well as triggers and cravings
  • Improving your physical and mental health
  • Trying out new hobbies such as gardening, cooking, or learning a new language or musical instrument

Maintaining abstinence generally lasts anywhere between four to five years since you started rehab, and only applies if you’ve remained completely sober and drug-free for those four or five years.

4.   Advanced Recovery

The final stage of rehab is known as ‘advanced recovery’, and occurs after four to five years of total sobriety. During this stage, you’ll continue putting the tools, resources, and coping strategies you learned at rehab into practice, applying them to your daily life, and setting yourself up for long-lasting success.

The key thing to remember is that ‘recovery’ doesn’t just mean becoming sober and drug-free – it also means creating a happy, healthy, and successful life and becoming the best version of yourself possible. It means making and doing all you can to achieve  your goals and finding new ways of living your life without drugs and/or alcohol.

Some of the things you might do during your advanced recovery include:

  • Creating long-term goals
  • Creating a day-to-day schedule
  • Finding activities that don’t require alcohol (i.e., running, yoga, writing, journaling, or sober parties)
  • Finding different ways to seek happiness (i.e, through religion, activism, volunteering, sports, your career, or family)

Tips To Cope With Rehab

Rehab may not be the easiest of journeys, but it’s just that: a journey. The process of getting from A to B – from having an addiction to becoming sober – is something to be celebrated. To help you on your road to recovery, we’ve compiled a few tips that can be used in any of the four stages of rehab:

  • Identify your triggers and try to avoid them
  • Get support
  • Surround yourself with positive people who set a good example
  • Practice healthy living
  • Build up your finances
  • Confront, own up, and let go of past mistakes
  • Celebrate every small victory and milestone

Recovery Is a Lifelong Journey

It’s important to remember that recovery doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a lifelong journey. You’ll need to continually work on developing healthy habits, but it’s an immensely rewarding experience. Knowing that you have control and autonomy over your life is a great feeling – nothing is out of reach!

About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.