Description of a Daily Schedule in a Substance Abuse Rehab Facility

Addiction is a challenging condition that requires help, dedication, and support to overcome. Unfortunately, addiction is a disease that will last a lifetime and requires constant maintenance to avoid relapse. In the United States, nearly 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, translating to one in seven of all Americans. Despite the substantial number, a mere ten percent will get the help they need. 

Since the 1990s, drug overdose deaths have nearly tripled, and from 1999 to 2017, an estimated 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug. The opioid crisis has been at the forefront of this problem, and in 2019 alone, nearly 50,000 people died from opioid-involved overdoses in the country. More than 90 percent of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol started using before they were 18.

While some drugs may not pose significant risks when a person halts use, some drugs like alcohol and benzodiazepines can be fatal during the withdrawal phase. For this reason, those looking to stop any drugs should seek professional help. Although some aren’t considered dangerous, drug withdrawal is unpredictable, meaning a person could develop rare symptoms that are fatal. Seeking professional help can put you and your family’s mind at ease, knowing you’re in good hands. 

Addiction treatment is a challenging process. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a person seeking long-term sobriety should keep themselves in treatment for at least 90 days for the best outcome. While detox is a vital piece of the puzzle, staying in treatment past the withdrawal stage will help you understand your addiction and learn how to remain sober in the long term.

Once you complete detox, the process has only begun, and many might wonder what happens during treatment. Below we’ll describe the daily schedule in a substance abuse rehab facility. If you’re considering getting help, this is important to know. 

Daily Schedule in Addiction Treatment Center

Residential or inpatient treatment programs provide structured daily schedules into their treatment process. For a person to achieve sobriety, they must learn structure in their lives. Living without structure is a crucial factor contributing to relapse or why a person will remain using drugs. Schedules help to minimize the triggers that lead to relapse. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services describes how creating a daily plan for a person in treatment will encourage abstinence and aid in the recovery process. 

A therapist should participate in creating a daily schedule because they can offer direction on that schedule. By doing so, it ensures that critical items are included that are beneficial to the recovery process. Therapists will help their clients identify things they must do each day to contribute to their sobriety in the long term to integrate into their schedule. It will help them adjust when they leave treatment and don’t have the same guidance or structure. The schedule must avoid gaps because too much free time will contribute to thinking about using drugs or alcohol, which can eventually lead to a relapse. 

Daily Schedule Examples

Residential or inpatient treatment programs usually integrate various services beyond individual therapy. These include group field trips away from the treatment center, group therapy, entertainment, and fitness activities. Below we will provide you some general examples of what you might expect in a residential or inpatient addiction treatment facility. 

  • Waking up
  • Eating breakfast
  • An individual counseling session
  • A group therapy session
  • Eating lunch
  • Some free time
  • Alternative therapies included in your treatment plan
  • Fitness time
  • Eating dinner
  • Group discussion
  • Additional free time
  • Bedtime


Wake Up

To start building a more structured life, residential treatment facilities will have the client wake up at a specific time each morning. It helps add structure and provides predictability, so the client knows what to expect each day. Setting bedtimes and wake-up times will also improve the quality of sleep, which may be hard to come by in the early days of sobriety. 


If you’re living on-site, all meals will be provided to you. Those struggling with addiction often neglect their bodies and eat poorly, if at all. Eating a healthy meal each day at the same time will boost physical recovery from addiction, as well as improve health. 

Individual Counseling

Individual therapy is, perhaps, the most valuable part of your addiction recovery. Not discounting anything else, but seeing a therapist each day can help you learn how to overcome the feelings that push you to drink or use drugs. Therapists will implement a host of therapies to help you address your addiction issues. A therapist will also address co-occurring mental health disorders, help you manage stress, and assist you in your newly-founded sobriety. Contingency Management, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and family therapy are all common when treating substance use disorders (SUDs). 

Group Therapy

Group therapy is standard in addiction recovery because it allows the individual to learn from their peers. It’s easier for a person to know others are on the same path toward recovery. Those who participate in group therapy can maintain abstinence from alcohol and drugs for longer periods than those who receive individual care. 

Free Time

Residential treatment will allow the individual to enjoy some free time each day. Free time is monitored to make sure clients don’t engage in drug or alcohol use. Entertainment is usually provided, and socializing with peers is encouraged. Clients may also participate in hobbies like journaling, reading, or painting. It’s unusual for a client to leave the facility without special permission.

Alternative Therapies

Research-based treatment centers will implement a host of therapy options that they feel will help the individual. In some cases, they could take a holistic approach that incorporates a variety of treatment methods into the care plan. Alternative treatments might include massages, yoga, or meditation. Each facility will offer different therapies. 


Exercise is one of the most beneficial means of relieving stress. It releases a rush of endorphins in our brain that reduces cravings, and in turn, boosts mood. Exercise is a powerful tool for a person to improve their health, maintain abstinence, and keep their mind occupied. Most treatment facilities will offer swimming pools, fitness centers, basketball courts, and tennis courts. Others might offer a fitness instructor or personal trainer as a part of their program. 


Dinner is more about meeting nutritional requirements; it’s about connecting with others in recovery and socializing. During this time where you “break bread,” you can learn about others’ journey and how it’s similar to yours. Knowing more about others is crucial during recovery.

Group Discussion

One of the primary benefits of on-site care is the support a person will have from the recovery community. Some of the people you meet will be friends you keep for life that will push you when you feel down outside the walls of treatment. Group discussion will allow you to share what’s on your mind as you navigate through the recovery process. The meetings are usually led by treatment center staff and will be less formal than structured group therapy. 

Free Time

Despite the significance of structure, a person will need free time to unwind from their busy schedule. Free time in the evenings is typically spent watching TV, socializing, reading, or enjoying other activities as the day winds down. It’s the perfect time to get the score of your favorite sports team or catch up on the book you’ve been reading. 


Maintaining a normal sleep schedule is one of the pieces that will help you maintain sobriety once you leave treatment. Sleep is the time our bodies heal, and going to bed at the same time each night ensures good sleep hygiene and an adequate amount of rest. When your stay at a residential treatment comes to an end, it’s crucial that you maintain a set schedule when transitioning back into the real world. If you’re moving from residential care to outpatient care, treatment will help you structure your daily schedule to help you slowly ease back into regular life. 

Transitioning Into the Real World

Although achieving sobriety isn’t easy, it’s much simpler behind the walls in a structured, safe environment free of triggers. A person who may feel weak inside treatment won’t have access to reach out to their old contacts for drugs or the freedom to walk to a liquor store. When you leave treatment, it’s important to keep in touch with contacts you made during your stay to call when you’re having moments of weakness. Transitional living can also be beneficial if you’re not quite ready to live alone.

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