No one is really prepared for the seemingly endless period of time – from the addict’s point of view at least – that lasts from the moment you sign the forms and the end of your rehabilitation treatment. But, in addition to obtaining the invaluable help you require to quit alcohol and the numerous strategies you can apply afterwards when faced with your triggers, you also learn a thing or two about yourself.
The First Impulses
To be more precise, I learned that I’m not a very pleasant person to be around when I’m frustrated or under a lot of stress. To be honest, who is, right? Nevertheless, it was pretty difficult to compose myself and maintain my calm, especially during the mid part of the treatment when the withdrawal symptoms were constantly directing all my thoughts towards alcohol.
Every little thing seemed to tick me off to the point where I was actually willing to engage in physical violence! Fortunately it didn’t come to that, because this type of behavior is viewed with zero tolerance in most rehab facilities. And it really wasn’t me, I always cross the line at verbal retorts and I’ve never used my fists to solve arguments.
These Feelings Are More Common Than You Think in Rehab Centers…
During our treatment sessions, we found out that it’s absolutely normal for conflicts to arise in this type of environment. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s not only the frustration generated by the lack of access to your previous coping mechanism: alcohol. The rabbit’s hole, so to speak, goes much deeper than that.
One of the principle characteristics of the typical personalities predisposed to alcoholism is self-absorption. Being self-centered might not constitute a huge problem when you’re the only “black sheep” of the group, but more like put you and me in the same room and tension levels start to increase dramatically.
Another character flaw that, for me at least, appears to have developed alongside my drinking problem is being very opinionated. You might have noticed that, as a person gets progressively more drunk, his/her tone becomes more obnoxious, the volume of his/her voice increases and he/she demands that everyone at the table shares his/her point of view. Yeah, that was me alright. Unfortunately, I remained like this even when sober and so did a few of my “cellmates”. You can see how this was a problem.
The Coping Strategies We Learned
The very first thing we were taught, with regards to diffusing potential conflicts, was that most arguments stem from the inability to communicate our needs and desires in an assertive manner. Misunderstandings lead to frustrations, which in time develop into full-blown grudges and the slightest spark could light the powder keg, especially considering an addict’s vulnerable state of mind.
Secondly, you cannot allow anger to control your behavior and, if you feel the need to confront another patient, try some breathing exercises to calm down beforehand. Instead of emphasizing the behavior you find aggravating, try discussing the consequences of his actions. For instance, saying “I consider that” or “I feel that” constitutes a much better way to phrase your argument.
Lastly, remember that the other people in rehab are going through similar or even more intense withdrawal symptoms. Try to cut them some slack, okay?