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What Is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient rehab facilities provide 24/7 live-in care for people recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction.

Recovery from drug abuse and addiction is very individual. Different programs and methods may work better for one person than they do for another. For example, while outpatient treatment may work well for some, others may need the structure of an inpatient program.

Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab

Woman in group therapy session

Inpatient drug rehab can be a huge benefit for people in early recovery who need the consistent support and oversight and a live-in treatment environment provides.

Some of the elements that an inpatient treatment program may include are:

  • Medical detoxification—In some cases, withdrawal can be uncomfortable enough that a person will relapse to end their symptoms. In other cases, withdrawal can be life-threatening. Medical detox provides the care you need to end your drug or alcohol dependence safely.
  • Ongoing medical support and supervision—Some inpatient programs, such as that at Desert Hope, are equipped to treat patients with acute medical needs.
  • Structured programming—Structure can help a person whose life has been in chaos to regain a sense of control and responsibility and to begin participating in healthy activities they can maintain once they leave treatment.
  • Nutritional support—Addiction is extremely hard on the body. Those who are struggling with the disease may become malnourished and physically weak. Desert Hope’s inpatient treatment program offers daily chef-prepared nutritionally balanced meals to restore your health.
  • Intensive therapy—Inpatient programs allow you to participate in numerous group therapy sessions, along with individual counseling, to learn how to cope with triggers, set healthy boundaries, communicate in healthy ways, and refuse drugs.

How Long Is Inpatient Drug Rehab?

There are many things that can influence the recovery timeline—from the abuse of multiple substances, to underlying mental health or medical conditions, to the level of substance dependence. This means that no specific duration is right for everyone.

Inpatient rehab may be very short or may be 90 days or longer. Programs longer than 90 days are often referred to as “therapeutic communities.” 

90-Day Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient drug abuse treatment programs, or residential programs, are often considered the most comprehensive form of care for addiction in that the individual stays on site in a particular facility for a period of time.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that a person should remain in a residential drug abuse treatment program for at least 90 days. In the past, 30-day inpatient rehab was the standard; however, research has shown that those who remain in a program for at least 90 days have lower relapse rates than those who leave sooner.

Relapse Rates After Rehab

There is a lot of evidence that indicates that the longer a person remains in an inpatient drug recovery program, the more likely they are to remain abstinent and have a more favorable long-term outcome.

Long-term inpatient drug recovery programs give individuals the time necessary to recover.

Relapse rates for drug addiction are high – NIDA estimates them to be between 40% and 60% – and prolonged abstinence can help to reduce episodes of relapse. For instance, studies show that show individuals who remain sober for 5 years have a much lower rate of relapse than those who are abstinent for less than 1 year; about 85% who are abstinent for 5 years remain so, while only 30% of those who stay abstinent for less than 1 year avoid relapse.

When a person abuses drugs, the chemical pathways in the brain that are related to how a person feels pleasure, and that help to regulate moods, are altered. Fortunately, over time, the brain may be able to at least partially heal itself from the damage done by certain mind-altering substances, like methamphetamine and alcohol.

Long-term inpatient drug recovery programs give individuals the time necessary to recover and help them to learn new and effective ways for managing life without the influence of drugs.

What Types of Addictions do Inpatient Rehabs Treat?

The specific disorder types that inpatient rehabs treat are dependent on the specific facility. Desert Hope treats drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring disorders such as depression.

Some rehab centers will treat behavioral disorders, such as eating disorders or gambling addiction. If you have questions about the specific care that a program provides, you can call their phone number to ask.

Additionally, some facilities are equipped to treat specific patient needs. For example, pregnant women require more medical support and supervision, and not all programs are fit to handle these patients. Always disclose your medical needs when discussing entrance to a specific facility.

Cost of Inpatient Drug Rehab


A drug recovery program can save money, both on the individual level and on a societal scale. The benefits of care are clear, but for many people, accessing necessary care comes down to price. The exact cost of treatment will depend on numerous factors, such as the program, the length of stay, whether the person wants or needs a private room, and whether insurance will cover the stay.

Does Health Insurance Cover Rehab?

Couple looking over insurance paperwork

Many insurance policies cover substance abuse treatment, as the Affordable Care Act included it as one of the 10 “essential health benefits,” requiring it be covered in a manner equal to surgical or other medical issues. Different insurance policies will have variable rules or regulations in place on how to use the insurance to cover an inpatient drug recovery program, and it is best to check with the insurance company directly to better understand how the specific plan works.

In many cases, the first step is to obtain a referral from a primary care physician for specialty services like addiction treatment. In other cases, individuals may be able to go directly to the facility and request admission if there is an opening.

Insurance policies may first require that an individual try an outpatient drug abuse program first before they will consider covering a residential program. They may set limits on the length of time a person can spend in a treatment program each year as well. For this reason, many families may decide to pay for treatment services themselves, called private pay. Substance abuse treatment facilities have trained professionals on hand to help individuals and families work out the best way to get the individual in need the care needed in a financially feasible manner. If you are unsure of your insurance benefits, you can check them here.

What to Expect During Inpatient or Residential Rehab


An inpatient drug recovery program generally follows this timeline:

  • Admission—The admissions process may involve paperwork, and interview, and other steps such as an examination of your baggage.
  • Assessment/evaluation—Staff will perform an evaluation to determine if there are any potential co-occurring disorders that also need to be addressed during treatment.  When co-occurring disorders are present, a dual diagnosis is given, and an integrated treatment plan is considered the “gold standard” in care. A drug screening test is also done during the evaluation in order to determine exactly what substances might be in your system, so they can be successfully, and safely, removed through detox.
  • Detox—Should you need to undergo professional detox, the process is generally relatively short (5-7 days), though it may be longer depending on the substance. Therapy may be initiated during this time, assuming you feel well enough to begin attending sessions.
  • Drug education groups and therapy (individual and group)—Once your body is stabilized through detox, you’ll be ready to begin the core part of treatment, psychoeducation and group/individual therapy. A daily schedule is usually structured with set sleeping, waking, and eating times. Individuals attend group and individuals therapy and counseling sessions as well as educational programs and life skills training workshops throughout the day. You’ll learn ways to deal with triggers, methods to refuse drugs, ways to alter harmful thoughts, and more.
  • Alternative therapies—Holistic approaches, such as yoga, meditation, or massage therapy, may also be part of your recovery program. Depending on the program, you may also have the opportunity to utilize a gym and/or participate in nutritional counseling to get you back to optimal health.
  • Relapse prevention—You’ll learn how to create relapse prevention plans and set strategies to deal with cravings and triggers at home.
  • Discharge and aftercare planning—In a good program, discharge and aftercare planning starts at admission. Your plan will be updated as you meet milestones or present with new needs or challenges.

The bulk of an inpatient drug recovery program is spent learning new and effective ways for handling stress, working through and controlling difficult emotions, and applying new life skills and healthy habits. Longer treatment stays are correlated with better recovery outcomes.

Discharge and Moving Forward

Recovering man with son

Individuals are encouraged to join support groups or 12-step or alternative recovery programs (e.g., SMART Recovery) while in treatment. These programs connect people with peers who can empathize and therefore support each other, thus working to prevent relapse and sustain abstinence.

After completing an inpatient drug recovery program, individuals may move on to a transitional program before returning home. Sober living homes, or halfway houses, may serve as a kind of in-between step after a residential treatment program and before returning to regular life. A sober living home can provide a stable and substance-free environment for individuals after structured treatment.

Individuals living in a sober living facility house may be required to maintain the household by performing chores and abiding by a few house rules. Individuals in sober living homes are required to remain drug-free and often to attend 12-step meetings, counseling, and therapy sessions each day or a few times per week.  While there isn’t a set timeline for how long people stay in a sober living home, the norm is generally a few months to a year or two.

Aftercare services are important after discharge. Individuals may continue to attend therapy and counseling services weekly, or more often, for a period of time as needed.

Time is necessary to heal from an addiction. There is no set amount of time that works for every person, as recovery is a personal process. Trained staff at inpatient drug treatment centers provide assessments and evaluations throughout treatment to ensure that individuals are moving between levels of care as needed and continue to receive what they need to recover. While there isn’t a way to tell someone the exact period of time that inpatient drug recovery will take, treatment professionals can give individuals an estimate at intake, and that timeline can be reassessed throughout the treatment process.

Inpatient Drug Treatment Centers in Las Vegas, Nevada

Looking for a reputable inpatient drug treatment program in Las Vegas? Desert Hope Treatment Center offers numerous levels of care for patients looking to recover from drug or alcohol addiction.

We offer safe medical detox all the way to outpatient treatment so that you can change your treatment intensity as you progress. For example, you may begin in an inpatient program, move to a partial hospitalization program, and eventually step down to once-weekly outpatient therapy. We also offer sober living for residents of our inpatient program who are ready to regain some independence but still live in a supportive and sober environment.

About The Contributor
Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff, American Addiction Centers
The editorial staff of Desert Hope Treatment Center is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have... Read More