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Inpatient Alcohol Admission Process

Over 15 million people battled an alcohol use disorder in 2016, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) publishes. Fortunately, alcohol addiction is a treatable disease, and there are many options for families and loved ones to choose from to facilitate recovery.

An inpatient alcohol rehab center can provide some of the highest standards of care in a stable, safe, and secure environment to promote healing and recovery. Comprehensive treatment options and amenities, and highly trained medical, mental health, and substance abuse treatment professionals, are available around the clock in a specialized inpatient facility.

Typically, admission into a treatment program begins with a confidential and complimentary phone call to the rehab center. Admissions coordinators are available around the clock to walk families through a pre-admission assessment. These admissions coordinators can guide prospective clients and their loved ones through the entire admissions and intake process, from payment and using insurance to travel arrangements and arrival at the facility.

Preparing for Admission

There are four simple steps to the admissions process:

  1. Initial phone call and pre-admission assessment

When making the initial phone call to an inpatient alcohol rehab center, it is helpful to have the following information on hand:

  • Medical records
  • Mental health history and any behavioral health concerns
  • Details of alcohol use, such as the frequency of drinking, amount regularly consumed, history of drinking, previous treatments, personal or family history of addiction, any polydrug abuse, etc.
  • Insurance information


  1. Insurance and payment information

In the initial preadmission assessment, payment information may be set up to help expedite the intake process. Admissions coordinators can explain the payment details and set up a payment plan. They can also help loved ones to navigate health insurance benefits and understand how to use them to pay for treatment services.

Some insurance policies may ask that the services be deemed “medically necessary” and require a referral from a primary care, medical, or mental health provider prior to admission in order for services to be covered. Each individual insurance policy is different, and a trained admissions coordinator can help families maximize insurance benefits and budget for rehab.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that addiction treatment programs can save people as much as $12 in healthcare, criminal, and legal costs, and costs associated with lost workplace production, per every $1 spent. Addiction treatment is worth the financial expense, and there are many options to help families budget for and finance treatment expenses.

  1. Travel arrangementsIndividuals may choose a facility that is not near their place of residence, and admissions coordinators can set up travel arrangements for families and loved ones in as little as 24 hours from the initial phone call and preadmission assessment. In some instances, a staff member can meet families at the airport, bus, or train station, and bring them to the center for admission. If a person is in crisis, admission may be expedited
  2. Arrival at the inpatient alcohol rehab center

Staff at an inpatient alcohol rehab center strive to make admission into the treatment program as smooth as possible for individuals and their families. Clients may enter into a detox program first to allow alcohol to process safely out of the body. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) warns that alcohol withdrawal can be potentially life-threatening a small percentage of the time, and a medical detox program is considered the optimal method for managing difficult and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox program usually takes 5-7 days on average, and directly following detox, individuals can transition into an inpatient alcohol treatment program.

Preparing for a Stay in an Inpatient Rehab Center

Admissions coordinators guide individuals through what is needed prior to admission. They also help families understand the process and what to expect when they arrive at the rehab center.

Upon admission, individuals will check their belongings in with a staff member who will confirm that everything is in order. Some things to pack for a stay at an inpatient alcohol rehab center include:

  • Around a week’s worth of comfortable clothing, including layers to account for weather, undergarments, workout clothes, one nice outfit, and a jacket
  • Toiletries and bathroom essentials that are alcohol-free
  • Medications in original containers with prescription information, and unopened, and medically necessary, over-the-counter medications
  • Stationary and stamps to write letters home and a journal to use during downtime
  • Small bills for the vending machines and laundry facilities, if needed

Below are some things to leave at home when staying at a rehab facility:

  • Any form of drugs or alcohol, including any toiletries that contain alcohol
  • Snacks and food from home, as these can disrupt the structured and balanced meal plans that are in place at a rehab center and often contain empty calories, sugar, and/or caffeine, which can be detrimental to the healing process
  • Electronics, thought phones and/or laptops may be checked in with the facility and used during specified times, depending on the policy
  • Valuables
  • Weapons

Each treatment facility will have their own specific set of rules regarding what can and cannot be brought into rehab and should provide families with a packing list prior to admission. Remember to pack light, as there is not usually a lot of room to store items, and clients often share rooms and living space with others. Most centers will have laundry facilities on site.

NIDA recommends that addiction treatment programs last at least 90 days, and individuals may wish to bring some comfort items from home to personalize their space. Any items that are not allowed may be checked in with a staff member until completion of the program or taken home by a family member.

When families arrive at the rehab center, they will generally be given a tour of the facilities and a copy of the daily schedule. Individuals will be settled into their living quarters, and they’ll meet staff members. Professionals will often perform a physical, intake mental health assessment, and drug test at this time. At this point, if a person needs to enter into detox, they will do so; otherwise, the individual will say goodbye to loved ones for now and begin to participate in the daily schedule.

While entering rehab is certainly a big adjustment, compassionate and trained staff members are on hand to ensure that the admissions process goes smoothly.