What do you need to know about entering drug rehab?
Many struggling alcoholics and drug addicts are nervous about taking the plunge into the world of addiction treatment. In reality, our fear is a big monster in our minds and we just need to trust that things will work out. The truth is that there is very little to be afraid of when it comes to addiction treatment. Going to rehab is not so bad, but our anticipation of the unknown can make us believe that it will be a horrible experience.
Don’t set yourself up for this negativity. Rehab is not that bad if you go into it with an open mind.
One of the biggest things to wrap your head around is the fact that you could be happy again while being completely clean and sober. Some of us found that hard to believe at first, and so we went into the rehab experience with a great deal of skepticism. We believed that because we experienced the discomfort of withdrawal, that we would be miserable forever if we got clean and sober. This is not true though. And in order to learn this truth for yourself you will have to make a leap of faith.
Knowing what to expect can help to ease your mind a bit. Let’s see what is really in store for you at an alcohol or drug rehab center.
I promise it is nothing too scary. Treatment is easy, once you get there!
Getting started off on the right foot in a drug rehab facility
Being open minded is one of the most important thing about entering a treatment facility. In fact, one of the only ways that you can possibly fail is to by not having an open mind about things.
Think about it: You are in treatment….why exactly? What is the point of rehab?
The point is that you want to change. You are not happy with your life and you want for it to be different. Therefore you must make changes. Those changes require action on your part. But even more than that, those changes require new direction. You can’t just change on a whim, or decide that you are going to redesign your own life. Can you?
Most alcoholics and drug addicts have tried to do that in the past—they attempted to fix their own problem. Did it work?
No it did not work. If it did work then they would not be seeking treatment in the first place. So the people who go to rehab are those who could not fix their drug or alcohol problem by their own efforts. They needed outside help in order to fix their problem. This is really what defines alcoholism and drug addiction—the fact that you need outside help in order to get over your problems. When you think carefully about the labels that we use for addiction this becomes evident. For example, someone with a “drinking problem” might be able to clean their own act up if they really want to, but a true alcoholic has lost the power of choice entirely. They have to drink unless they get professional help.
And so it becomes a matter of willingness. The alcoholic or drug addict who is willing to attend inpatient treatment is pointed in the right direction….but is it enough?
The willingness to attend treatment is not enough by itself
Just showing up to treatment is not enough to overcome the disease of addiction.
If you look at some of the data in the treatment industry you will see that this is the case. A certain percentage of everyone who attends treatment will stay clean and sober forever, and that percentage is not usually as high as we might all hope for it to be. Sure, some do go to treatment and live happily ever after with no relapses, but many who attend rehab struggle for years or even decades afterwards.
So if treatment is not a sure-fire cure, what is the point?
The point is, it is still the best solution that we have at this point. Inpatient treatment may not have a 100 percent success rate, but all of the alternatives seem to do even worse, so this is our best option.
But again, just showing up to treatment is not enough. You have to follow through as well. And that means you have to take action, to do the work, to get really honest with yourself. These are not things that come easily to most people, both addicts and normal people included. It is not easy to get clean and sober as it is a total lifestyle change. Just ask anyone who has lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off in the long run how hard it was, and you start to get an idea of just how much work is involved in treating a lifestyle disease.
The real challenge of recovery begins when you first walk out of treatment. No one is cured in 28 days. No one is even cured by living in long term rehab for significantly longer time periods, either. The real test begins when you have your freedom back, when you go back out into the real world, when you leave the protection of the nest. It is easy to stay sober once you are checked into treatment. It is an entirely new ball game once you are back home and dealing with reality and your day to day challenges again.
You have to be more than just willing to show up for rehab. You have to be willing to follow through, to listen and learn, to adopt a new way of living.
Following the rules and focusing on your recovery for the long term
One of the most important things about treatment is in simply following the rules.
Every drug rehab center has rules that have to be followed. This is necessary and there is simply no way around it. And if there is one serious red flag that can predict a potential relapse, it is not following the rules at a treatment center. Nearly everyone who gets kicked out of a rehab center for breaking the rules ends up drinking or using drugs again very soon. This is may sound cynical or like a stereotype but it is also the truth. Those who get kicked out of treatment do not fare well.
Therefore when you get into treatment you should expect for there to be a set of rules to follow, and you should do your absolute best to follow them. Failure to do so almost insures that you will relapse.
In the long run, learning to follow the rules in early recovery will serve you very well. This is not about being passive, necessarily, but about learning some discipline. You will become a stronger person if you learn how to follow directions in early recovery. Not because you are stupid, that is not it at all. No, you need to learn how to take direction from others so that you can essentially get this shortcut to real wisdom.
Think about it: When you take advice from someone in recovery who has several years sober, you are borrowing their wisdom from them. You are benefiting directly from their experiences that they have gone through. Don’t reinvent the wheel when you can take this shortcut to wisdom. Learn from those in recovery who would tell you how to live and what to do.
When you first get to recovery you do not know what you are doing. You don’t know how to live and you don’t know how to be happy. Therefore you need to be told what to do. Ask for help. Ask for advice. Listen to people who have five, ten, twenty years sober. Listen to their advice and then follow through with it.
Why would anyone who truly wants to be sober ignore advice from people like this? The only possible reason is because they are not truly ready to get clean and sober and they just want to do what they want to do. They are not willing to listen. They want to have fun, to party, to relapse. Following advice is hard and therefore you will only do it after you have truly hit bottom. No one follows hard advice when their life is still going well, there is no point to doing so.
Think about it this way: Someone tells you to go to treatment for 28 days, to get honest with yourself, to work through the 12 steps, to get a sponsor and to go to 90 AA meetings in the next 90 days. That is a whole lot of hard work. That is a lot of tough advice to follow.
Do you do it? Do you do this hard work, do you commit to taking this action and being consistent? Do you listen to this advice and do what you are told to do?
I can answer that for you:
You will only do these things if you are at your bottom, if you are miserable by not doing them. You will only do the hard work if the alternative is even worse. You will only take this life preserver that is thrown to you if you are truly desperate and you are sick and tired of drinking and drugs.
But if things are still going decent for you in your addiction, there is no way that you will take this hard advice in the long run. To do so is irrational. We tend to take the easiest path forward, the one that minimizes pain and maximizes happiness. If we think that drinking alcohol will be better than going to rehab and AA meetings, then we will act accordingly. We only change and seek help when the misery and chaos becomes too much for us, and the rehab center (even though we may fear it) starts to look like a decent alternative.
Forget the horror stories and be realistic
You may have heard some horror stories about drug rehab.
Don’t believe them. They are mostly made up, just for sensationalizing things.
Drug rehab is nothing special, nothing fancy. At the beginning it is just a medical unit with nurses watching over sick addicts and alcoholics. They use medications to try to keep you comfortable without really getting you high or buzzed. That is the basic idea behind detox. No one is generally screaming in pain or thrashing around in extreme discomfort. If you find such a place then you definitely went to a horrible treatment center, and you should find another one. But honestly I do not believe that any of them are that bad, that any of them really try to make people suffer through withdrawal. The idea is exactly the opposite—to keep you comfortable so that you can get clean and sober and well again.
On the other hand, you have to be realistic in realizing that you are going to go through a small amount of discomfort in coming off of your drug of choice. This is to be expected, but you can manage it. You can overcome your detox symptoms and get through the withdrawal process. You will have medical staff and peers there helping you to get through it. They will keep you comfortable to a reasonable level but you still have to put in some effort.
How to know when you are serious about recovery
You will know that you are serious about your recovery when you are willing to check into treatment without any reservations about your addiction.
In other words, you can’t be saying in your mind “If my spouse leaves me, I am giving up this recovery thing and I am going back to drinking.”
Or you can’t make a secret agreement with yourself that you are going to relapse if a certain event occurs. You have to write off all of those excuses forever, and get it straight in your mind that you are serious about recovery.
You don’t have to quit forever, of course—you just have to quit for the rest of today. And then when you wake up tomorrow, you can quit for today again. It may help you to take things one day at a time like this, so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the prospect of going the rest of your life without a drink or a drug.
It gets easier over time. That is, if you are doing the work in recovery, it most definitely gets easier over time. In order to achieve that you have to put in a great deal of effort. You have to get honest with yourself, you have to identify your problems, your issues, the negativity in your life, and learn how to deal with it. You may have to ask for help in learning how to deal with the negative stuff. A therapist, a counselor, or a sponsor might be able to help you work through your problems.
Some people don’t ever want to look at the negative stuff. They just want to focus on the positive, they want to be a dreamer, they want to chase after their goals, they want to focus exclusively on the positive side of things.
This is a mistake. The reason that it is a mistake is because of the way our life works in recovery. If there are negative aspects of your life then those will always be there to hold you back unless you take care of them and do something about it. This is why is it is so important to do the work in recovery. If you fail to do the work and get honest with yourself about your problems then those problems will just keep coming back to haunt you.
You can focus on the positive all you like, but if you neglect the negative things in life then they will come back to bite you.
For example, many people in recovery suffer from resentments. This is bottled up anger that they have been carrying for a long time. The anger is such that it can cause them to want to drink. Sometimes we feel like if we get drunk it will somehow teach the other person a lesson. This is obviously not true but that can be how the alcoholic mind works.
So what do we have to do? We have to process those resentments and get rid of them. We have to do the work, get honest with ourselves, and learn to practice forgiveness. And many times we will realize that if we have not properly forgiven ourselves then we will not be able to forgive others, either. Working through issues like this may require a sponsor or a therapist to help us.
You will know that you are really serious about recovery when you are willing to go to treatment, but also when you are willing to follow through and to do this sort of work. Most people who are struggling to get clean and sober are not ready to go to this level of dedication, they are not committed enough to their recovery to follow through and do this sort of work. Therefore if you have the willingness to put in this effort then you will know that your chances for recovery are quite good.
Where can you find a treatment center? Get on the phone and start making calls, start asking questions. This is the best way to get the ball rolling and to get the answers that you need to start building a new life in recovery. If nothing happens then nothing will happen. The only way to get results is to make something happen, to take action, to make that phone call. Get on the phone and call a treatment center and find out what your options are. Maybe they can help you and maybe they can’t. If they cannot, they will likely refer you to someone else who can give you some sort of help or direction.
But it is up to you, and you have to make that first step. You have to become willing to surrender, to commit to change, to take advice from other people. Without that level of willingness you will not be able to turn your life around.
A new life awaits you in sobriety if you are willing to put in the effort. But you have to be willing and you have to take action to make it happen, to get the process started. There is plenty of help along the way and that is what inpatient treatment is all about. What are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and get your life turned around today.