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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on May 24, 2022
6 min read

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Ellie Swain
Dr P. E. Pancoast, MD
Written by 
5 Sources Cited
Ellie Swain
Written by 
5 Sources Cited

What is Inpatient Alcohol Rehab?

Inpatient rehab is a common way to treat an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Treatment involves checking into a rehab center, participating in the program, and remaining there for the duration of treatment.

You’ll have access to medical professionals and other specialists 24 hours a day. 

Inpatient rehab programs have a set schedule. This usually starts with breakfast and is followed by therapies, counseling, and activities for the rest of the day.


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Who is Inpatient Alcohol Rehab For?

When considering treatment options for an AUD, you’ll come across a wide selection of programs and offerings. 

Various factors will play a role in what type of treatment is suitable for you.

These factors include:

  • Medical history
  • Duration and amount of alcohol use
  • Frequency and patterns of drinking

Inpatient rehab is widely considered the most likely treatment to help people successfully overcome alcoholism and achieve long-term sobriety.

Outpatient treatment may suit people with early-stage alcoholism. It might also work for people with prior knowledge of alcohol recovery programs who need a ‘refresher course.’ Outpatient treatment allows people to continue with daily activities like work or school, family obligations, and other responsibilities. 

Inpatient treatment is important for people without stable home environments, the homeless, and people who live with others who drink alcohol and/or use drugs on a regular basis. 

What to Expect in Inpatient Alcohol Rehab


Inpatient treatment usually begins with medical detox. During intake, a medical professional will review your medical history and perform a thorough exam.

A medical professional will also speak with you about:

  • Your substance abuse issues
  • Any underlying issues or ailments you may have
  • Any concerns you may have

If you’re diagnosed with any other conditions, they will discuss specific treatment options with you.

Depending on when you last drank alcohol, you may have already begun to experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Nausea 

These symptoms can be uncomfortable and may lead to underlying medical issues that will need urgent medical care. 

Some people attempt to detox on their own by quitting alcohol cold turkey. This results in changes in the brain and body that require urgent and close medical monitoring. With inpatient care, professionals constantly monitor your progress and attend to your needs.5


When you’re ready, you’ll receive extra psychological and emotional support.

A typical day in inpatient care may include individual counseling, group therapy, and educational meetings. 

Depending on the center you attend, other activities might be available. A focus on nutrition and physical exercise is also important

Aftercare Planning

Once you complete an inpatient program, your care team will likely encourage you to enroll in outpatient treatment services. These services may be provided by the same center or may be available through community services.

Outpatient aftercare offers various therapies and activities. It will likely include ongoing individual counseling or group sessions, depending on what you discuss with your counselor.

It’s also important to follow up with your provider to discuss and maintain treatment for any co-occurring conditions you have.

How Long Does Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Last?

The length of time for inpatient rehab varies by person. The shortest program at many centers is 30 days. However, many people need more time and stay for several months.

Other facilities may allow you to complete detox on-site and then switch to an outpatient facility afterward. 

People with less severe forms of AUD may select a shorter program to remove any daily distractions or triggers. After completing rehab, they can continue recovery maintenance by joining local support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

It takes a huge commitment not to fall back into alcoholism once you develop a new and healthy routine. A commonly heard saying is, ‘All you have to do is quit drinking, and change your whole life!’

Treatment may take longer for people who have suffered from years of alcoholism. This is due to alcohol’s effects on the body. Heavy drinking changes and restructures how the brain works.

Excessive drinking also gradually affects other major organs like your heart, lungs, and liver. Once you stop drinking, it takes a while for your body to return to a stable state. Some changes, especially to the heart, liver, and circulatory system, never return to normal.

Regardless of how long it takes to finish an inpatient program, treatment is always an ongoing process. Each day you’ll need to use the tools and techniques you learned in rehab for various situations. 

Just because you’ve finished inpatient rehab doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges in maintaining long-term sobriety.

How Much Does Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Cost?

The cost of inpatient treatment varies between each facility. Some programs are free, while others cost thousands of dollars a day.

No matter your budget, there’s a facility available. The opportunity to recover is accessible to anyone if they know what resources can help them.

According to, residential treatment cost can vary between $5,000 to $80,000, depending on the length of stay.

Does Insurance Cover Alcohol Rehab?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandated that health insurers provide alcohol addiction coverage. 

This includes:

  • Private insurance policies
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • State-financed health insurance
  • Military insurance

In some states, such as California, you may also qualify for disability insurance for inpatient alcoholism treatment. It’s essential to understand your policy. Different health insurance companies cover alcohol rehab fees based on their own set guidelines.

Many insurance companies will only cover up to 30 days in inpatient care. This isn’t enough to help someone who’s suffered from alcoholism for many years.

Insurance can also affect the type of treatment you receive. In holistic care, therapies like yoga and massage may benefit someone recovering from alcoholism. However, an insurance company may not provide coverage for these therapies.


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Therapies Used in Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

Individual counseling

During individual counseling, a counselor will provide  tools and steps to cope with your issues. You can use these tools both during and after treatment. 

You’ll also have the chance to discuss any underlying issues, such as past trauma,  that may have influenced your choices.

Group therapy

Group therapy enables you to join in discussions with professional therapists and others in rehab. This helps cultivate support, understanding, and empathy and develop a positive way of thinking.

Educational meetings

Educational meetings allow you to understand how addiction has affected you psychologically and physically. A better understanding of alcohol’s effects on the body may help you see the situation in a better perspective.

Family and friends may also be able to join these meetings to provide additional support.


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Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab 

Alcohol treatment programs usually fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient rehab.

While equally focused on rehab, each type has specific benefits to offer.

Inpatient rehabs are residential, intensive treatment programs designed to treat severe addictions and provide a safe living environment.4

Outpatient rehabs are part-time programs. They allow the recovering person to reside at home and keep attending work or school during the day.4

The person with an AUD, as well as their loved ones, must understand the differences before choosing a treatment program. Exploring all options before deciding can help you or a loved one on the road to long-term sobriety.


  • Inpatient rehab is intensive and residential; it’s designed for people with serious alcohol problems
  • Inpatient rehab usually consists of detox, various treatment therapies, and an aftercare plan
  • Treatment can last from days to several months or even years
  • Inpatient care typically costs between $5,000 to $80,000 depending on various factors
  • Inpatient therapies include counseling/educational meetings focused on healthy living and alcohol recovery
Updated on May 24, 2022
5 sources cited
Updated on May 24, 2022
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Huebner, Robert B, and Lori Wolfgang Kantor. “Advances in alcoholism treatment.” Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism vol. 33,4 : 295-9.
  2. Gray C, Argaez C. Residential Treatment for Substance Use Disorder: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health; 2019 Jan 4
  3. Finney, J W et al. “The effectiveness of inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse: the need to focus on mediators and moderators of setting effects.” Addiction (Abingdon, England) vol. 91,12 : 1773-96; discussion 1803-20
  4. Cole, S G et al. “Inpatient vs outpatient treatment of alcohol and drug abusers.” The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse vol. 8,3 : 329-45
  5. Hayashida, M. “An overview of outpatient and inpatient detoxification.” Alcohol health and research world vol. 22,1 : 44-6.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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