What happens when you go to rehab? Though the process may differ slightly depending on which treatment center you choose, the following detailed photo guide will give you a general idea of what rehab is like and what you can expect to do and see on your first days of treatment.

Step 1: Call Admissions

Calling Drug Rehab Admissions

What to Expect When Calling Admissions

When you call a rehab’s 1-800 number, you’ll likely be connected to an admissions counselor. This is someone whose top responsibility is to provide callers with information about the various treatment options the center offers and answer any questions you may have about addiction or the rehabilitation process in general.

When you call Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC), it’s likely you’ll speak to Kristi Gibson, LVRC’s Senior Admissions Counselor. Kristi has a degree in Psychology and has been trained in the field of addiction and counseling. She’s a great person to talk to because she’s been working for Las Vegas Recovery Center for four years and knows every program inside and out. Originally from rural Nebraska, Kristi is an extremely kind and friendly person. She’s also sensitive about how difficult it can be to talk to a stranger about addiction, as substance abuse is something that has affected her family closely.

Below, Kristi explains what you can expect when you call admissions:

An Interview with Kristi:

What happens when someone calls LVRC?

If someone calls because they’re looking for alcohol or drug treatment for themselves or a loved one, we’ll typically talk to them for about 30 minutes. During that time we’ll ask them several questions to try to understand they’re history and what they need help with. Some of the questions we’ll ask are:

  • What services are you looking for?
  • Have you been to a treatment center in the past?
  • What substances are using? How often?

What do you do with the information the person gives you?

We take down all of the information they feel comfortable giving us. All of the answers they provide remain confidential. The only people who will see their information are the medical and clinical team and the counselors, and this is only if they decide to come to treatment with us.

What information should people have on hand when they call?

People aren’t obligated to give us any information. If they just want to call to ask some questions, that’s fine too. If they’re calling because they want to enter treatment, it can help if they have their insurance card so that we can make sure we get that information processed.

What happens next?

After we’ve completed a screening to find out what the best placement option is (inpatient or outpatient, for example), we’ll get all of the financial information sorted out and then the person is ready to come down to the facility to begin their program. We can get them in on the same day if they’d like. If they’re unsure about whether or not they’d like to enter treatment at this time, we can set up an appointment for them to come and tour the facility and speak to some of the counselors and staff. Family members are also welcome to attend free informational sessions.

What would you tell someone who is afraid to pick up the phone and call?

I’d tell them that it’s a huge step, but making that first call is the best thing you can do. It’s scary but we’re here to help. We won’t pressure you to make a decision; we just try to give everyone as much information as possible.

Step 2: Catch a Ride to the Facility

Once you’ve spoken to admissions and made the decision to enter treatment, it’s time to come to the facility. Las Vegas Recovery Center is located in a quiet residential neighborhood in Northwest Las Vegas. Because overnight parking is limited, we recommend clients get a ride with a family member or friend or travel to the center via cab or public transportation. If you are traveling to the rehab from out of town, one of our clinical associates will meet you at the airport and drive you to the facility.

What to Expect When Entering Rehab

Parking Lot in LVRC

The view as you drive into the facility’s parking lot.


You will need to open the metal gate (it’s unlocked). This is the path that leads to the main entrance of Las Vegas Recovery Center. You can walk in on your own or with a family member or friend.

Exterior Las Vegas Recovery Center

Simply follow the path towards the main entrance.

Main Entrance LVRC

Here is the main entrance of our facility. This will be the door you’ll use when entering the facility for the first time.


For privacy and security reasons, rehabs often require you buzz in and state the reason for your visit. When you arrive at LVRC, simply tell the receptionist who answers the intercom that you are there to start your first day of treatment.

Step 3: Meet with Your Intake Coordinator

Drug and Alcohol Rehab Coordinator

Nicole Davis, LVRC’s Intake Coordinator.

What to Expect When Meeting with Your Intake Coordinator

After you’ve rung the buzzer, an intake coordinator will come outside to greet you. At Las Vegas Recovery Center, you may meet with Nicole Davis (she’s one of two intake coordinators). Nicole is a licensed drug and alcohol addiction counselor in the state of California and is pursuing licensing in Nevada. She has been working in the addiction field for three and a half years. Nicole is originally from Sacramento, California, and has a warm and gentle personality.

Inside Entrance LVRC

Your intake coordinator will then lead you into the facility and escort you to their office, where you’ll fill out some legal paper work and provide information about your medical and substance abuse history.


The Intake Coordinators’ offices are located directly next to the main reception desk, so you won’t have to walk far. Your friends or family members can either sit with you while you answer questions or they can wait on the couch outside.

Rehab Intake Process

Below, Nicole explains what you can expect during the intake process:

An Interview with Nicole:

What happens when people first arrive to rehab to check in for treatment?

Well, the first thing that happens is that they walk through the gate and up to the door. Then they ring the bell and I’ll come out and greet them. Sometimes people will be by themselves or sometimes a family member will accompany them. I’ll tell them “Hi, I’m Nicole and I’ll be doing your intake” and then I lead them to my office which is right next to the main entrance.

What happens next?

After they enter my office, we sit down and chat. I’ll get their insurance information and photocopy and it and they’ll fill out some legal paper work as well as some forms about their medical history. If they like, they can have their family members sit with them during this part or we can have their relatives wait outside in the reception area.

What can people expect from the intake process?

The intake process generally lasts between an hour and a half and two hours. During this time, I’ll be asking questions about their medical and substance abuse history. I need this information to give to their insurance company, but I also want to make sure that we’re placing them in the right program. Of course, there is no pressure for anyone to answer any questions that they don’t feel comfortable answering. People can also use this time to ask any questions they have about the center and what they can expect from their stay there.

While we’re filling out the paper, a nurse will stop by to check their vital signs and make sure they’re comfortable.

What happens after they’re done with their intake?

After we’ve filled out the required paper work, I’ll introduce them to a Clinical Associate who will go with them to see one of the detox nurses. The Clinical Associate will introduce them to the nursing staff, who will then do blood work, a TB test and EKG. The nursing and medical staff will take over from there.

What would you tell someone who is afraid to walk in that front door?

I would tell them that whatever they’re thinking, it’s not going to be like that. People think a rehab is going to be like jail or a mental institution, but it’s actually the exact opposite. Our only goal is to provide a safe environment for you to detox from a substance and to make you feel as comfortable as possible. I like to tell people to think of treatment as an opportunity to carve out some time to work on themselves and improve their mental and physical health.

People also often worry how they’ll survive 30, 60 or 90 days, but I tell them not to think about that. Just give it at least three days. Don’t make any rash decisions the first day. Come, detox and you can worry about the rest later.

Step 4: Meet the Detox Medical Staff

Alcohol and Drug Detox Nurse

Karri Donham, the Nursing Administrative Coordinator at LVRC.

What to Expect When Detoxing

After your intake coordinator has finished with all the necessary questions and paperwork, it’s time to say goodbye to any friends or family members and head to the detox wing of the facility. Your intake coordinator will show you where to go and introduce you to the people who will be overseeing your medical care.

One of the nurses you’ll meet at LVRC is Karri Donham, the Nursing Administrative Coordinator. Karri has been working at Las Vegas Recovery Center for six years. In addition to her administrative duties, Karri helps oversee all aspects of a patient’s medical care. Karri started working at Las Vegas Recovery Center after a close relative of hers nearly passed away due to a drug overdose. Karri feels it is her mission in life to help others so that they don’t suffer like her loved one has.

Below, Karri explains what you can expect during your first couple of days in detox.

An Interview with Karri:

What’s the first day of drug or alcohol detox like?

After the client is done with intake, they come to the medical staff in the detox area of the facility. We draw labs, do an EKG and take their blood pressure. We’ll give them medication to help with the affects of the withdrawal and we’ll see to it that they’ve eaten and that they’re properly hydrated. Our goal is to make sure they feel as comfortable as possible.

If they’re feeling well enough, we then encourage them to join in on whatever activities are scheduled for the day. They’ll go to group, meet with their counselors and join everyone for mealtime.

For the first six hours of their stay, we’ll check their vitals every two hours. This is just to make sure the detox process is going as expected and that the client is comfortable. After the initial six hours, we’ll then check their vitals every four hours for the first 24 hours.

Drug and alcohol detoxing

Detox nurse Karri Donham taking a person’s blood pressure.

What is the second day of detox like?

Everyone meets with the doctor at 8am and then goes to breakfast. They have “Group” throughout the day (at 10am, 1pm and 4pm), where they’ll go to participate in a discussion or lecture related to addiction, pain or some aspect of mental health. Usually while they’re detoxing, clients are excused from strength training or yoga classes, but we encourage them to try to attend as many of the activities as they can. Oftentimes people who’ve experienced addiction have hidden from life for so long; we want them to use their time in treatment to practice rejoining the world again; and that starts the minute they step foot into the facility.

We also encourage people to see the chiropractor, Dr. Rich Bakir, because he can make adjustments that really help people feel better; especially people who are detoxing.

After dinner, people can watch TV (TV time is from 5pm to 10pm) or they can read or listen to music.

What would you tell someone who is afraid to detox?

If you’ve tried detoxing at home by yourself in the past, you might be afraid to go to rehab because you’re worried that the withdrawal is going to be painful. But it’s our job to take the pain and sickness out of detoxing. We’ll be with you every step of the way and although the withdrawal won’t be fun, it won’t be as bad as you think either.

People also imagine that rehab is going to be this dark and ugly place filled with crazy people running around, but it’s nothing like that. It’s just a place to get healed and to get help.

I always remind clients that this is the last day you’re going to have to feel bad again. You come here broken and you leave here whole. 

Read: What happens when you quit drinking? to learn more about the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of recovery. 

What advice would you give to someone who is entering rehab for the first time?

Come with an open mind. Don’t let the fear stop you. Fear is what got you here. But if you can walk through that door, you’ll find that freedom is waiting for you on the other side.

Below, Dr. Mel Pohl, Chief Medical Officer at Las Vegas Recovery Center, details who needs detox and what the process is like.

Step 5: Orientation with a Clinical Associate

Orientation meeting at drug rehabilitation facility

Tiffany Simmons (right) explains the Las Vegas Recovery Center guidelines.

What to Expect from Orientation:

After the nursing staff has met with you to assess your health and devise a treatment plan, you will sit down with one of the clinical associates for an orientation. At Las Vegas Recovery Center, orientation generally lasts about 15 minutes.

During orientation, you will:

  • Get assigned a buddy—Your “buddy” will be a same-gender client that has been at the facility for a little while and can show you the ropes. He or she will be there if you need any support, but you won’t be obligated to hang out with the person if you don’t want to.
  • Have your belongings and person checked—Two clinical associates will search your bags and person for contraband items. They’ll be looking for obvious “no nos” like drugs and maybe not-so-obvious items like hairspray and perfumes (which aren’t allowed because people may have scent allergies). For more information about what is and isn’t allowed in the facility, please read: What Not to Bring to Treatment. Clients are welcome to observe the bag check if they would like.
  • Go over the Client Handbook—A clinical associate will review all the guidelines in the Client Handbook and will answer any questions you may have about the program.

What happens after orientation?

After the clinical associate has answered any questions you may have, he or she will take on you a brief tour of the facility and will show you your room. Then, you’ll be left alone to hang out with your buddy, unpack or relax alone until meal time.

Room in rehab

After orientation, clients can go to their rooms and unpack or relax

An Interview with Tiffany:

Tiffany Simmons is one of Las Vegas Recovery Center’s clinical associates. Below, she answers a few frequently asked questions about rehab and what day-to-day life is like at a treatment facility.

What exactly are “clinical associates” and why are they an important part of the treatment process?

Clinical associates are with the clients from the moment they step inside the facility and sometimes even before they step into the facility, because oftentimes we’ll pick people up from the airport. We’re then with them every step of the way; we help them get settled in and take them to the Walgreens, to meetings and to church. We also accompany them on group excursions and take them to the nail salon or to get their hair done. Most importantly, however, we’re there to provide love and emotional support.

What do you think people find most surprising about rehab?

Probably the thing people find most surprising to learn is that we have a clinical and medical team on staff 24-hours a day. So even it’s midnight or three in the morning, there will always be someone there to help them or to answer questions.

People are often excited to learn that we do their laundry. They’ll come here with two months worth of clothing thinking that they have to have enough clothing to last them their entire stay. But the facility does laundry every day, and staff will wash everyone’s clothing and bedding for them.

People are also surprised to learn that they’ll be allowed to call home and receive visitors. Clients are allowed two phone calls a week and can receive visitors each Sunday. We don’t want people to feel cut off from their world and their families—We know how important family is, especially for those who have children. We’ll see to it that they’re able to Skype with families or if they have any bills that need to be paid or pressing emails that need to be sent, we can help them with that as well.

What would you tell someone who is afraid of rehab?

I would say that they don’t need to be worried about feeling embarrassed or ashamed. A lot of us who work here are in recovery and have been to treatment ourselves, so we understand. We can relate with you and we truly want to help. There is no judgment here.

What advice would you give to someone who is entering rehab for the first time?

Just give it a shot and be open minded. It can be scary, but if you look deep inside yourself, you’ll find a little of bit of hope underneath the fear. Hold onto that hope.

“If you want to get well, you can.”

– Dr. Mel Pohl, Chief Medical Officer at Las Vegas Recovery Center

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