What Should One Look for in a Rehab Center?

What Should One Look for in a Rehab Center?


There is no such thing as the perfect rehab center.

This is the fantasy of many alcoholics and drug addicts, and it is also a common fantasy among the friends and family members of the alcoholic or drug addict in question.

If they could just find the perfect rehab center, then all of their problems would be magically solved…..right?

Probably not.

The myth of the perfect treatment center

There is no such thing as a perfect treatment center. And I think we all know what we mean by saying “perfect” in this case: We want a rehab where you can send your toughest case, and the person will walk away clean and sober, their lives forever changed.

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Nope, doesn’t exist.

The problem is not that we lack the skills to teach recovery to people, the problem is rather one of surrender.

It is a problem of willingness.

There are at least two levels of denial. The main two that get people confused when it comes to rehab and staying sober are these two levels:

Denial level 1: “I am not an alcoholic!”
Denial level 2: “OK, so I may be an alcoholic. I am just different, and I just like to drink, and I need booze in order to be happy. Rehab cannot help me.”

Do you realize that many, many alcoholics end up in rehab when they are in the second level of denial?

In other words, they realize that they have a serious problem. They are no longer trying to deny that they are alcoholic. This has become painfully obvious to everyone involved, including themselves.

What they are trying to deny is that there is a solution that can help them.

Here is what I used to do when I was still struggling with alcoholism:

I was terrified of AA meetings, and of going to treatment.

So I demanded that there must be some other solution, some other way to get clean and sober. I told the counselors and the therapists that if they could just give me an alternative to the 12 step program, that I would be glad to sober up for them.

It didn’t really matter. None of it really mattered. This is because I was stuck in denial, I was at that second level of denial that I describe up above. I knew I was screwed; I knew I was alcoholic, but I was too darned scared to do anything about it. I was still in denial because I denied the solution.

My problem was not that I had yet to find a practical solution for recovery. My problem was that I lacked willingness. I had not yet surrendered. I had only surrendered to one tiny thing: To the fact that I was a real alcoholic. Big deal. This is nothing, to admit to your problem. People admit to that every day, but then they go on about their business, drinking themselves into a stupor. What good is the admission if you are not willing to act on it?

No, my problem was that I was not willing to take the plunge into recovery. I was not willing to follow directions, to surrender to other people, to listen to people tell me what to do and how to live. That is where I was coming up short. I was still holding on to my pride.

And until is was willing to stop doing that, and to surrender fully to my disease, I was not going to be able to make any progress. I remained stuck in the disease.

If I had a million dollars…..

What if you were an alcoholic and you had a few billion dollars to spend on rehab?

What then?

You could afford the finest treatment in the world, the absolute best that the world has to offer in terms of alcoholism and addiction recovery.

Surely you would get better results, right? Surely if you had all the money in the world, you could buy a solution to your problem and find someone who can actually change your will. Some amazing treatment center that can actually change people’s minds. Some sort of super recovery program that can help people to instantly break through their denial.

That exists, right? If you have millions of dollars to spend on it?

Uh, no. It doesn’t exist. You can’t spend millions on rehab and get better results. You can’t pay extra money and find a counselor out there who can somehow scare your kid, or your spouse, or your boyfriend into giving up drugs and alcohol forever. You can’t just throw more money at the problem and make it go away.

If you have any doubt of this, just take a look at the celebrity news for a while. You will see that having excess wealth does not protect people from addiction or alcoholism. In fact it may even seem like it can make it worse in many cases.

I think that most people (both alcoholics as well as “normies”) tend to walk around with thish delusion going on in the back of our minds. It is sort of a myth that we tell ourselves, that we believe in. It is the myth that if we have unlimited money, we can purchase just about anything in this world. And so this myth is very powerful and it extends to a whole lot of things. For example, we know that people can buy expensive surgeries to remake the way that they look. We know that celebrities hire personal trainers to help them get into super good shape. And so I think we extend this idea to include the idea that the ultra-wealthy must have access to really, really good rehabilitation services. The best of the best. And so if you can go down to the local drug rehab center in your local town and get a 10 percent success rate, then surely the ultra wealthy should be able to get something like a 20 or a 30 percent success rate, right? That is how money works, or so we tell ourselves with the myth that has been playing in our minds for so long.

The truth is this:

Throwing more money at the problem of addiction or alcoholism does not necessarily increase your odds of defeating it. Obviously if you have no money at all and cannot get any assistance or treatment of any kind, then that is bad. But I know many people personally who had nothing, no insurance, and no money, and they received really good alcoholism treatment that completely turned their life around. In fact, when I went into rehab myself I pretty much had nothing.

All of this is a rather long way of saying that spending extra money on rehab is not necessarily going to buy you a shortcut to a higher success rate.

You cannot buy your sobriety. It has to be paid for with blood, sweat, and tears. We recover based on the work we do, both internally and externally. You cannot put a price on that work and you cannot outsource it to other people. You have to do it yourself if you want to reap the rewards of recovery.

Initiative and action are worth ten times what choosing the “perfect” rehab center is

The perfect treatment center does not exist. Just pick one and go.

There is an awful lot of data out there about addiction and recovery, but not all of it is accurate. Some government studies that I have read suggest that only about 20 percent of all alcoholics and drug addicts will ever try to get any help at all for their problem. Ever! This is astounding in itself. So 4 out of 5 alcoholics just keep on drinking away to their death, and never try to correct course or live a better life. Tragic.

Of the 20 percent or so who do try to make a change, many of them will try and then fail. Again, tragic. But better to try and fail then to never try at all. For example, I had to try 3 times before I finally figured out how to stay clean and sober upon leaving rehab.

Taking action is worth ten times more than selecting “just the right rehab center.” Actually being willing to get help and to go to rehab in the first place is very worth in itself. Don’t screw up the process by getting hung up on the details.

Rehab is actually pretty simple. Just go to one, and give it a chance to work for you.

Treatment is basic and simple at the core

What is rehab anyway?

How does it help an alcoholic to stop drinking?

First of all, you make an appointment. This starts with the phone. You pick up the phone, you call the rehab, and unfortunately you talk about money and insurance and funding.

I know, what a drag, right?

It’s terrible. But it’s also very necessary. Rehab isn’t free. Just go stay for a few weeks in a hospital and get a good look at the total bill. Now you are in the ballpark of what inpatient rehab will typically cost for most people. Health care is not getting any cheaper, unfortunately.

Does this mean that rehab is a scam, or that it is not worth it? Of course not. You cannot put a price on sobriety, especially if you experience several years or even decades of it. For example, I have now been clean and sober for over 12 years and counting, and therefore I would go back in time and gladly pay ten times more for my rehab than what I actually had to pay. You can’t put a price on living a better life in recovery, because comparing it to the misery of alcoholism or drug addiction is a no brainer.

So you get on the phone, you call up a rehab, and you get the funding sorted out. If you don’t have insurance this should not stop you from calling and asking questions. In many cases there is special funding set aside for people who may not have any means to pay for treatment (and lack insurance). So you just need to call and ask questions, find out what your options are. Doesn’t hurt to try, at the very least.

Once you get the funding straightened out they will give you an appointment. Be here at this time, on this day, and bring your bags packed because you will be staying for X number of days. Pretty simple, right?

Then you check in when your day comes up. You go to rehab and they check you in. They search your stuff to make sure you are not sneaking in drugs or alcohol. This can’t be helped and it is just part of rehab. It has to be done for safety’s sake.

If you need medical detox then they stick you in a detox ward with medical staff, most likely nurses. The nurses will probably consult with a doctor about you. If you are in some rehabs there may even be a doctor on site, though this is not really so critical in my opinion (I worked in a detox for 5+ years).

After detox they send you over to residential treatment. There you go to groups, meetings, and therapy all day. While doing this you stay in a protected environment so there is no chance of relapse.

Staying sober in rehab is easy. There is no temptation while you are there because there are no drugs or alcohol available. So you stay sober, you learn about recovery, and you will most likely be introduced to AA meetings.

Some rehabs also give you the choice of a Christian based recovery instead of the 12 step program. And there are also a few rehabs (very rare) that actually have both types of programs set up, and let you choose for yourself.

Talk to people who have been to a rehab center if you are really worried before attending

If you are nervous about going to rehab then you should talk to people who have been there in the past.

You can find such people at the local AA or NA meetings around the treatment center. If you go to plenty of meetings and ask for feedback and advice, someone will speak up eventually who will tell you that they have been to a specific rehab. Then you can ask them questions and get an idea of what to expect there.

But really there nothing that you need to fear about going to a treatment center. They are designed to be open, inviting, and non-threatening. They generally do not try to intimidate people or put them on the spot in any way. Treatment centers genuinely want to help you to live a better life.

What you really need to look for in a rehab center

What you really need to look for in a rehab center is this:

1) Am I willing to go to rehab?
2) Do I qualify to attend there (funding, insurance, etc.).

The rest is just meaningless details, for the most part.

Recovery is 99 percent willingness combined with action. You decide to do something, then you follow through and do it.

The why, the how, the what….those are just details. If you get yourself to a rehab center and you surrender to your disease then good things will happen. If you follow directions and take advice and start taking positive action, then good things will happen.

What you need to look for then is not necessarily to find the perfect treatment center, but you need to look within to find the spark of willingness that will get you there. You need to push yourself to make a decision, to take action, to ask for help.

How can you break through denial if you are not yet willing to ask for help?

Focus on your misery. That is a pretty counter-intuitive thing to do, I admit. But it absolutely brings you closer to surrender if you can do it.

Start focusing on your misery when you are drinking and using drugs. Stop glorifying your addiction and realize that it is killing you, and that it has stopped being fun.

Start to measure how much fun you are having when you “party” with drugs or alcohol. Really start to pay attention and measure how much fun you are having. Measure how long it lasts. Do you have fun all night long? Do you only have fun for an hour or two?

What did it used to be like? Did you used to have fun all night long when you drank or used drugs? I bet you did…..

This is the progression of the disease. You need to realize that it is progressing, that it is getting worse, that it is no longer as much fun as it used to be.

This takes guts. This takes honesty. It takes real honesty to admit that you are no longer having fun like you used to. It takes guts to realize that you don’t know how to live a good life, how to have fun any more, how to enjoy yourself. Those things are forgotten after your addiction takes over. The only way to get those gifts back into your life is to ask for help, and to start living a new way. Start walking a new path, one that does not involve your constant self destruction.

If you want to get sober at a rehab center, you must first reach a state of total surrender. This cannot happen when you are deep in denial. It has to happen after you have finally pierced through that denial, and realized that your “happiness” from your addiction is a total sham. You were never really happy, just deluded. And when you finally see through your denial you will realize that the future is nothing but misery. You will realize that it will never get any better if you continue to self medicate. And that is when you will know that it is time to take action; to ask for help.

That is when you go to rehab.

Any rehab.

Just go.

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