When you start a residential rehab program, it can be a radical departure from what you’re used to. There are rules and regulations that impact everything from when you eat to the music you can listen to. It might sound intimidating, but consider that most of the things that are good for you aren’t easy, and will require discipline and sometimes sacrifice. Here are the most common rules for staying in a rehab facility that you can expect as part of your inpatient treatment program:

8 Common Rules for Staying in Rehab

Compared to a lifetime of crippling financial, emotional, and physical distress at the hands of addiction, a few weeks of restrictions seems a small price to pay for sobriety. Addiction treatment centers are focused on one thing and one thing only: creating the ideal environment to help you overcome your substance abuse. These rules help to do that and are common at most facilities:

1. No Phones or Laptops

Let’s rip this bandage off quickly. No, you probably won’t be allowed to bring a smartphone, tablet, or laptop into the facility (and if you have one on you at the time of check-in, it will likely be confiscated until your treatment is complete). The barring of tech serves a crucial purpose of helping you disconnect from the outside world and to instead, fully immerse yourself (i.e. focus) in your recovery at hand. 

Having the world at your fingertips isn’t just distracting, but can actually be harmful to your treatment as well. Triggers can be found everywhere: advertisements, tv, social media, and even your own contact list. By not having smart devices on hand, you remove the possibility of subliminal messaging and unconscious cues sparking your desire to use. 

2. Limited External Communication

Many inpatient facilities incorporate a blackout period for new arrivals that prohibits any contact from the outside world. Snail mail, phone calls, and even in-person visits (even from family) can be restricted for the first few days, up to an entire week. Similar to the purpose of the “no phone or laptops” rule, facilities want clients to focus on treatment. Afterward, residents will still face restrictions on visitors and external communications but be allowed some communication on a regular basis. 

3. No Leaving Without Permission

Whether patients are allowed to leave the premises of the facility can vary, but in most cases, it’s strictly prohibited. The intention behind this is the same as all the other rules so far: to limit your exposure to potentially harmful influences. Who’s to say that someone in the midst of withdrawal wouldn’t try to get a fix, or meet someone that’s still using? Mandating that those in rehab stay onsite prevents them from giving in to temptation.

4. No Weapons or Fighting

It goes without saying that weapons, fighting, or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. Rehabs are meant to be a safe space that allows individuals to focus on getting clean. Such behavior towards staff or other residents can result in swift expulsion from the program.

Upon arrival to your inpatient program, your belongs will likely undergo a search to ensure that you haven’t brought anything that could be dangerous to others. In addition to weapons, clothing, music, or movies that depict anything violent may be prohibited as well. 

5. Random Drug Testing

Another no-brainer rule for staying at an inpatient rehab facility: no drugs. These are drug and alcohol-free environments that expect no less from their patients. As such, many facilities incorporate random drug testing to ensure that everyone is sticking to the rules. 

6. Attendance is Mandatory

Soon after arrival, you’ll find yourself with a strict schedule filled with various individual and group therapy sessions. These are a crucial aspect of the recovery process as they not only help pinpoint the source of your addiction but help you to identify strategies to fight those temptations in the future. Skipping these sessions hurts you and deprives you of the full benefit that rehab can offer. As such, many facilities make attendance mandatory although exceptions can be made on an individual basis. 

If you’re not feeling well or up to a session, it’s important to let someone know rather than just not showing up. In these situations, reach out to your addiction counselor to see whether any adjustments can be made. 

7. Romance is Strongly Discouraged

We love a good love story, but rehab is not the time nor the place. A romantic relationship can be a major distraction that gets in the way of the healing, learning, and growing that takes place. Remember how all-consuming your middle school crushes felt when you were a teenager? Add that plus the emotional strain of withdrawal, therapy, and being away from home and you’ve got a ticking time bomb that can quickly implode. 

Further, it can be devastating if the relationship goes south, causing emotional turmoil that can put the patient in a vulnerable state that could threaten their progress. 

If you think you’ve met that special someone: wait. If the sparks are real, they’ll be there after you’ve both finished your treatment programs. Focus on you and your recovery, before you consider bringing someone else into your life. 

8. Curfew Is Enforced

The exact hour of bedtime at a facility can vary but tends to be between 9 PM and 11 PM. Residents are usually expected to be in the bed with lights off, but the rules for after hours might be more or less lax. If you initially find yourself grumbling about having an enforced bedtime, you’ll definitely be thankful for it later as many facilities require patients to begin their days early. A good’s night rest and a healthy sleep schedule can only do good for your overall wellbeing.

What Happens If You Break the Rules?

Imagine rules didn’t exist. Are you picturing it? Now, imagine trying to drive anywhere in your neighborhood–the four-way stops alone are enough to make us cringe. Rules may not be your idea of a good time, but like them or not, they’re a necessary part of life. They create a sense of order, prevent chaos, and, most importantly, keep you safe. Like driving laws, the rules of a rehab facility help ensure that you–and everyone else alongside you–make it to their destination. 

Breaking the rules, by contrast, puts everyone’s success at risk, not just your own. For this reason, many rehab facilities can have a very low tolerance for going against the program. Serious offenses such as violence, using drugs or alcohol, or skipping too many sessions can result in swift expulsion of the program. Other consequences can include additional restrictions on things like recreational time or when you can have visitors, or having your treatment curriculum schedule adjusted. 

The nature of the violation and the number of infractions can also play a role in what happens if you break the rules of the rehab facility. Bear in mind that getting kicked out of rehab doesn’t involve a refund, so breaking the rules can be a major waste of time and money for you. It can also affect the outcome of any legal charges begin faced.

Why Is Rehab So Strict?

Rehabilitation centers are a source of second chances. They do more than simply save a life that’s careening out of control. They can push people’s lives in a positive trajectory where they aren’t just recovered, but thriving after addiction. One of the main reasons why rehab centers are able to accomplish this is because of the all rules they have in place. 

These rules allow these facilities to create an environment that fosters good influences and keeps the bad ones out. Structure is a key element to the recovery process and by promoting it as an institution, residents can reap the benefits. Studies have found that the more structured an inpatient rehab facility is, the better the result tends to be for their patients. 

However, keep in mind that not all rehab facilities are the same, and some have less strict inpatient rehab rules than others. If you’ve repeatedly relapsed and struggle to find the motivation to get (and stay) clean, a facility with these rules would provide a healthy amount of restrictions that can help you get on the right path. For individuals with less severe addictions or who have relapsed but maintain a strong motivation for recovery, a more flexible residential program might prove just as effective. 

When shopping around for the best rehab facility for addiction treatment, it’s important to look for one that will serve your needs which may not necessarily be the one that’s the most comfortable or convenient.