What is Rehabilitation?

The name rehab is obviously short for rehabilitation, but it is not always fully understood what the process of rehabilitation is, or what the similarities or differences are between a rehab and what is commonly understood as the process of rehabilitation in a medical or clinical sense.

Many people will have heard the term rehabilitation mostly in the context of people needing time or physical space to recover and get better after an illness.

There is a sense that rehabilitation is often referred to as a process that not only allows an individual time to get better, but also time to become ready to be integrated back into society or into the life they had before the illness.

This is certainly true but needs to be more fully explained in the context of an individual going into rehab for alcoholism or drug use.

The point of a rehab is really twofold. Firstly if the individual has misused alcohol and/or drugs and is at risk of alcohol withdrawls, it is to provide medical/clinical help that may be needed by way of a medical detox or of drug withdrawal symptoms.

This is a crucial part of the process, but is mainly a precondition to the main therapeutic work that will be done in the rehab once the individual is there. Most people will stay in a rehab for approximately 30 days, although there are some rehabs that offer longer term and after-care facilities.


The majority of that time spent in rehab will hopefully be helping the individual understand the nature of alcoholism as an illness, and the more general context of addiction and how it affects people.

The individual concerned is likely to struggle with this quite considerably, and many people will still not have fully accepted the process of dealing with an illness by the time they have left rehab.

However, for everyone who has been through rehab the main message of recovery is normally always the same.

That rehab is simply a beginning of the process, and that the main recovery work needs to be done over a long period of time and the individual has left rehab. For many people this will be through a 12 step Fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous, other people will have different routes.

Whatever the individual’s journey, for many the value of rehab is that it opens up the whole process of recovery and gives the individual the freedom to understand their alcoholism, how it has affected their life, and what they can do to get better from it.

Rehabilitation in its more general form is about the individual having a time and space to recuperate from an illness or an accident and get ready to return to normal life. The work done in a rehab certainly follows this pattern, but with the caveat that the time spent in rehab is simply the beginning of the process, not the full recuperation period and it might be with other illnesses or diseases.