Description of a Daily Schedule in a Substance Abuse Rehab Facility

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A proper drug treatment program is designed to be holistic, comprehensive, and highly specialized. The idea behind drug treatment is to provide people with an intensive and immersive experience that addresses the physical, psychological, and spiritual deficits that addiction inflicts.

Within that frame are the two most essential components of any comprehensive substance abuse program: medical detoxification and inpatient treatment. Detox, the first stage of addiction treatment, is a process in which the physical symptoms of withdrawal are safely managed as the problem substance is removed from the body. Detox alone is not enough to help people in active addiction realize sustained sobriety.

That’s where an inpatient residential treatment program comes in. Residential treatment offers an intensive, daily program of therapy and counseling designed to help people get to the root of their addictions. It requires a stay at a facility (away from home) and offers patients a structured and safe environment.

A residential program can last between one to three months or more and be the difference between a client experiencing sobriety or relapse. The longer someone is in treatment, the better their chances are at sustained recovery, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Ideally, someone struggling with addiction should enroll in a program that lasts at least 90 days to better their chances for a successful recovery.

It’s worth noting that although clients will have access to the same therapeutic methods in residential treatment, they will each have a program specifically tailored to their needs.

If you are pondering professional addiction treatment program, here’s a closer look at the day-to-day aspects of a typical substance abuse rehabilitation program, from morning to evening. Here’s a snapshot of the weekly schedule for someone in recovery.

Morning Routine

Mornings at a residential facility typically begins at 6 a.m. with breakfast and time for meditation and personal grooming. These activities occupy the first few hours of the day. Apparently, breakfast is essential as it provides the fuel to help you start your day. However, the personal time one takes for prayer and/or meditation is a critical part of the recovery process.

If someone were to practice mindful meditation at the start of their day, it would help rewire their brain for positive patterns of thought — apart from the negative associations that plague the addicted mind. Mindfulness meditation opens up new neural networks in the brain for self-observation, optimism, and well-being, according to neuroscientist Daniel Siegel.

People can influence their recovery by developing a connection to God or another higher power. Bill Wilson, who founded Alcoholics Anonymous, rooted his 12-Step methodology in spirituality. The penultimate 11th Step, for example, tacitly acknowledges the role of a higher power in the recovery process: “through prayer and meditation to improve [their] conscious contact with God as [they understand] Him, praying only for knowledge of his will for [them] and the power to carry [that will] out.”

The 11th step does name the Abrahamic conception of God, but it further explains that someone in the midst of recovery can acknowledge a higher power of their own understanding.

Meetings and Therapy

After breakfast and personal time, comprehensive therapy and counseling sessions begin. In a typical residential program, the day opens with mental health education and group therapy sessions. The former emphasizes the mental health aspect of recovery; in the latter setting, people gather to share addiction experiences and learn from one another.

After lunch, people typically undergo more group sessions from Monday to Friday. Group sessions can vary. They can be psychoeducational in that they educate clients about substance abuse and the behaviors and consequences related to it.  Another widely employed group model is skills development, where participants learn the tools needed to realize and maintain abstinence from a substance.

Another critical group session model is cognitive behavioral therapy, where members “change learned behavior by changing thinking patterns, beliefs, and perceptions” about themselves and their addiction.

Other group therapy approaches include support and interpersonal, which emphasize the thinking and emotions around recovery and psychodynamics, respectively.

In residential treatment, clients will also engage in other beneficial activities that will help them be successful beyond the walls of the facility. Those activities include:

  • Life-skills classes
  • The opportunity to practice these new skills while still in the safety of treatment
  • Holistic therapies such as yoga and meditation
  • Small responsibilities such as laundry or other chores


Tasty, nutritious meals are a key component to recovery. Healthy eating can help restore the body, effectively reversing the devastation caused by substance addiction. People who have addictions face a dilemma when it comes to what they have historically put into their bodies.

Client and clinician discuss daily schedule at drug rehabAn article from The Fix encapsulates this dilemma and proves why nutrition is critical:

“First, the very act of ingesting drugs or alcohol wreaks havoc on the body. Alcohol, for example, impedes nutrient breakdown and assimilation resulting in nutritional deficiencies. Opiates tend to cause gastrointestinal issues, and, during opiate withdrawal, severe vomiting and diarrhea can lead to nutrient depletion.

“Stimulants suppress appetite, which can lead to an insufficient intake of calories and nutrients…Proper nutrition helps recovering addicts (and everyone else) feel better because nutrients give the body energy, help build and repair organ tissue, and strengthen the immune system.”

With that said, a holistic, comprehensive treatment program typically features healthy meals prepared by a chef on the premises. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided. Usually, breakfast starts at 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.; lunch begins at noon and the dinner period at 6 p.m.

Evening Routine

Exercise, Recreation, and Other Activities

A daily drug treatment schedule allows for exercise, which occupies the latter part of the day. A typical schedule will feature an exercise period from the late afternoon to early evening, usually from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Like proper nutrition, sufficient exercise in the recovery process is invaluable. It releases endorphins, which interact with brain receptors to mitigate the perception of pain. Yet, it produces positive feelings, a sensation analogous to morphine. The benefits that usually come from exercise include:

  • Improved clarity of mind
  • Improved outlook
  • Better brain chemistry
  • Healthier, restful sleep

Recreational activities are a form of therapy as well. In a drug treatment program, recreation periods are typically offered Friday through Sunday. Recreational activities include games, movie nights, and various outings. Clients are also provided with the opportunity to participate in group shopping trips for groceries and other items.

Lights Out

For a typical drug treatment program, the day concludes with a relaxation period directly after dinner. The lights go out at 8 p.m or 9 p.m.

Benefits of Substance Abuse Rehabilitation

Residential substance abuse rehabilitation is designed to provide patients with the optimal environment for undergoing recovery.  Additional benefits include:

  • 24-hour access to professional medical and mental health care
  • Removal of daily distractions, stressors, and responsibilities to better focus on recovery
  • Creating and enforcing a structured daily schedule
  • Specific community-driven environment
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