What Is a Typical Day In Rehab Like?

Last Updated on February 23, 2022

Residential rehab is an intensive type of drug and alcohol rehab. Clients temporarily live at the rehab center and take a break from work and family obligations to focus on their recovery. Inpatient rehab keeps people safe, helps them adjust to a life in recovery, and prevents relapse. A day in residential rehab can look different, depending on where you get help.

If you or a loved one is thinking about going to rehab, you might have questions about what you can expect to do every day. For example, how will rehab work? And will you have any free time? To help you anticipate and prepare for your treatment in a residential rehab program, we’ll provide a brief explanation of what a typical day in residential rehab is like.

Related post: What Is the Addiction Treatment Process?

Types of rehab programs

First, we should note that there are several different types of rehab. Depending on the severity of your substance use disorder, your treatment history, and other individual factors, a treatment team may recommend that you complete one or some of the following levels of substance abuse treatment programs:

  • Residential rehab: This is the most intensive type of rehab program. Clients have to live on-site at the rehab facility for the duration of their program and their time with family, friends, and the outside world is limited. This structure provides them with a safe and supportive sober environment where they can establish their recovery and learn and apply successful relapse prevention techniques and other life skills.
  • Intensive outpatient rehab (IOP): This type of rehab program is less structured than residential rehab and clients can live at home while they work through an outpatient program. Instead, they meet several times a week at a secure, clinical location. Group sessions are led by licensed counselors, recovery specialists, and other types of addiction treatment professionals. Sometimes, this type of rehab program is also offered online for clients who cannot or choose not to travel to an outpatient facility for group sessions.
  • Sober living program: This is not technically  a “rehab” program because most sober homes don’t provide treatment for addiction. Instead, they offer a sober and supportive living environment for individuals who are adjusting to life in recovery. Sober living programs serve as a bridge between rehab and the “real world.” They help people in all stages of recovery by providing a stable and sober home full of supportive, like-minded individuals.

What happens when I first enter rehab?

Although every rehab center is different, most treatment facilities follow a similar structure when onboarding a new client:

  • Intake assessment: The treatment staff will complete a thorough assessment of your medical, behavioral, and social background to determine what type of rehab is best for your situation. Most often, a treatment team will recommend residential rehab if a person is severely addicted or has a history of chronic relapse and treatment.
  • Drug and alcohol detox: If you’ve actively been abusing drugs or alcohol, you’ll likely need to complete a detox program before you start rehab. This type of program provides round-the-clock medical and clinical care as you detox from addictive substances to ensure your safety and comfort. Once you’re stable and sober, you can start your treatment in rehab.
  • Residential rehab starts: Once you’ve completed the first two steps, you’ll be able to start your rehab program.

What is a typical day in residential rehab like?

All residential rehab programs are different, but they’re all very structured and follow a set daily schedule. Most programs incorporate a similar schedule to the one below.


  • Breakfast
  • Group treatment session
  • Individual counseling
  • Personal time


  • Lunch
  • Group treatment session session
  • Physical activities (yoga, meditation, light exercise, etc.)
  • Personal time


  • Dinner
  • 12-Step meeting
  • Group treatment session
  • Personal time
  • Bedtime 

During individual counseling sessions and group treatment sessions, the staff typically uses several types of evidence-based therapies to help guide you through the program and treat addiction. These usually include:

This is just an example of what a typical day in residential rehab might look like. However, the best way to find out exactly what your potential treatment program might look like is to ask the admissions team for more details. They can provide you with a detailed daily schedule to help you know what to expect.

At Nova, we also offer an intensive three-day family program to explore family roles, address conflict, develop healthy communication skills and boundaries, and begin the healing process among families.

What to do during free time in rehab

Although you’ll spend the majority of your time in rehab attending group or one-on-one treatment sessions, your free time is a great time to rest, process, and recharge. If you’re wondering what that might look like, here are a few great examples of how you could potentially spend that time:

  • Journaling
  • Meditating, reflecting, or praying
  • Walking
  • Exercising 
  • Playing team sports
  • Group outings (organized by the treatment staff)
  • Swimming (if a pool is available)

Most addiction treatment facilities won’t allow you to bring your personal laptop or computer to treatment with you, as they may be too distracting. Although you’ll most likely be able to bring your cell phone, the amount of time you’re allowed to spend using it is likely to be extremely limited.

Can I leave whenever I want?

While you can technically leave rehab whenever you want to, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Leaving rehab against medical advice (AMA) means you leave the treatment facility before the staff’s recommended time. If you choose to do this, you won’t finish your program and you’ll lack the necessary relapse prevention skills and life skills to stay sober. Ultimately, relapse is much more likely if you choose to leave rehab early, so it’s best to stick it out even when things get tough. You’ll be so glad you did!

Related post: How to Tell People You’re Going to Rehab

Residential rehab at Nova Recovery Center

Here at Nova Recovery Center, we provide inpatient drug rehab Austin, TX. Our individualized treatment program addresses the unique needs of each individual to ensure that every person has the best chance at achieving long-lasting and successful recovery. Whether this is your first time in rehab or your tenth, our staff will treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve. We’ll help you get into detox prior to rehab and we’ll also facilitate a safe living environment after rehab if you choose to enroll in sober living.

We understand that going to residential rehab is a big decision that will impact your daily life. Please give us a call at (888) 427-4932 to speak with an admissions representative at Nova Recovery Center or contact us online. We are happy to answer any questions you have about our treatment program options.

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Nova Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one get help. Please call or fill out this form for a confidential consultation.

One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.

Nova Recovery Center is dedicated to helping you or your loved one get help. Please call or fill out this form for a confidential consultation. One of our understanding, dedicated advisors will contact you about your options. Begin healing today.

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