Do I Really Need to Go Back To Addiction Treatment After a...

Do I Really Need to Go Back To Addiction Treatment After a Relapse? Don’t I Already Know All that Stuff?


Having worked in an addiction treatment center for several years, I heard this theme repeated quite often.

The struggling addict or alcoholic would basically say:

“Why should I go back to rehab when I already learned all of that stuff before?”

Most people in treatment have been there before. Most people in rehab are repeat customers. And yet, many people who go to treatment and fail to stay clean and sober believe that they have nothing more to learn.

So let’s think this through, and see why going back to rehab can make sense for anyone who has relapsed….regardless of whether they “know it all” or not.

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Reasons why you still need to go to treatment after relapse, even if you have been there before

1) You need the break from your environment.

So what if you have been to treatment before and you know how it all works? If you are still stuck in a cycle of addiction, then you are still stuck. You gotta do something different if you want different results, right? A trip to rehab is the break you might need to get out of the cycle you are in.

Just because you think you KNOW how to get clean and sober does not mean that you can, or will, actually DO it. Sometimes it takes drastic action, and checking into rehab is exactly that.

2) You need support from people, not just knowledge about how recovery works.

So you say that you know it all, been there, done that, and that you are knowledgeable about how addiction recovery actually works.

So what?

The real working knowledge that keeps people clean and sober is actually about relationships and people, not about “what to do during a trigger” or other such tips and tricks.

What most people need in early recovery is to identify with others who know what they are going through, and then to glean hope from that when they see the success in others. The actual “how do I do this recovery thing” is sort of beside the point. The real strength in early recovery comes from the relationships that we build with those who can show us a path to success.

3) You really DON’T know it all yet.

People prove this one to themselves time and time again. They come back to rehab with their tail between their legs saying “I thought I had it all figured out, but I was just fooling myself” Or they say things like “I really did not know the first thing about building a life sober.

It is not that you failed to memorize the 12 steps or that you did not read each and every page of recovery literature. What you missed was probably something much more fundamental, like:

* You did not hit the deep level of surrender required to recover.
* You did not get humble enough to learn new ways to stay clean and sober.
* You were not open minded enough to truly learn anything new.
* You were not willing to take suggestions from people who were trying to help you.

And so on.

Those are the sort of deep lessons that you will learn when you finally surrender fully and “get it.”

If you are not there yet, consider going back to treatment. Just because you know the drill does not mean that you can no longer benefit from inpatient rehab.

Personally, I went 3 times before I finally got it. It takes what it takes.

No excuses.

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