What is the secret to finding a treatment center for alcoholism?
What sort of questions should you be asking if you or a loved one is trying to get help for their alcoholism?
Before you can know what sort of questions you should ask, you need to understand a bit more about the treatment selection process. It also helps a great deal if you understand exactly how surrender works when it comes to overcoming an addiction. Because ultimately the state of surrender is about 100 times more important than the exact rehab that you choose. From the outside looking in (to alcoholism recovery), it is very hard to grasp this concept until you have lived through it and experienced it. That is, the concept that surrender is really the only thing that matters, and things such as where you attend rehab are actually just a minor detail in the big scheme of things. Strange but true.
Getting on the phone is 90 percent of the battle
First of all you need to understand that 90 percent of the battle is just getting on the phone and making a call.
Once you do that, everything will pick up momentum on its own. You just need to dial the numbers. Really.
Once you are on the phone with a rehab center (any rehab, doesn’t really matter which one at this point) then you can start to ask questions and learn what your options are.
It is ten times more important that you make a phone call to a rehab and start asking questions than it is that you call “just the right rehab.”
Most alcoholics do not pick up the phone. Most alcoholics simply do not make the call to get help. They do not want to talk about their problem, they do not want to admit to their problem, and they do not want to go to treatment anyway. So they don’t make the call and nothing changes. And you know what they say about alcoholism: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
Your goal in early recovery is to disrupt your pattern of addiction. The alcoholic comes to each morning and seeks out their next drink, over and over again. They are trapped in a cycle. The goal is to disrupt this cycle and then figure out a way to build a new life (one without alcohol). This is the recovery process but in order to get that started you have to somehow disrupt the pattern.
This is where rehab comes in. Now there are thousands of different treatment centers out there that a person might go to. And based on your experience and history in life, you probably believe that some rehabs are much better than others. You probably believe that if you go to the wrong rehab and the place is really lousy that your chances of staying sober will plummet accordingly. And that if you just pick the right treatment center, the perfect treatment center, then you will stay sober and be happy forever. Based on this type of thinking, you probably also assume that if someone had a million dollars that they could easily buy the best possible addiction treatment in the world, and all of their problems would be solved.
We know that this is not true though. It is understandable that you may think this way, because modern marketing promises us that we can have any solution in life that we need if just fork over enough money. But addiction and recovery do not work that way at all. If you need evidence of this then just look at celebrity addictions. Some of these people have serious amounts of money and yet they are unable to purchase their sobriety at any cost. Throwing more money at the problem does not seem to solve it any better.
Another example has to do with high end rehab centers, many of which are in California. If you dig around for stories you can read about clients and their experience of going to such luxury rehab centers. Some of them have gone multiple times. And they give a detailed account of what goes and what sort of results they are seeing from themselves and from their peers their. The bottom line is obvious: You don’t get any sort of magic solution simply by paying more for treatment. What you get is nicer meals and a nicer view from your room. But there is no increase in success rates from what we can tell. Such treatment centers pretty much never publish their success rates or substantiate any sort of claims that they have better success than other rehabs. There is a good reason for this: Their success rates are average at best, and they know it.
I tell you all of this not to discourage you, but to encourage you. To help you to realize that there is no magic bullet out there. To help you to realize that you cannot just purchase your sobriety, at any price. Doesn’t matter if you have a million dollars. In fact, having tons of money probably makes it a bit harder in the end (than if you average or poor). This is not an area where being able to “buy” more help is going to make any sort of difference.
In fact, what really drives success in recovery has nothing to do with your choice of rehab. It has everything to do with surrender.
What you should understand first about the rehab selection process
If you are so incredibly desperate and miserable from your addiction that you no longer care where you go to rehab, then that is actually a very good sign.
Funny, huh? You have to be so sick of addiction that you no longer care what kind of help you receive. This is the point that I was at when I was finally able to surrender and turn my life around.
Up until that point I was hanging on to the need for control. Before I reached that point of surrender, I was clinging as tightly as I could to the idea that I wanted to be in control of my life. I was not just about to walk into any old rehab. If I was going to agree to treatment (back then), it would have to be just the right treatment center. Because I was stuck in my addiction and I was scared and I was terrified of being sober and I was nervous to sit in AA meetings. In fact, I wanted a treatment center that did not exist, because I did not really want to get clean at all. I wanted a rehab that would baby me and not force me to look at the ugly side of my addiction. I did not really want to do the work to get sober at all. Therefore, no treatment center could really help me.
So I grabbed on to any excuse I could find and used it to justify my addiction. “This rehab is no good because they push AA on you” or “This rehab is no good because they make you stay for too long, I don’t have that kind of time.” And so on. It was all garbage excuses by my controlling ego. I was scared and so I would lash out with these ridiculous excuses. The truth was that I was not done drinking yet. I had not had enough pain and misery in my life yet. I had not finished drinking yet.
Because I was scared I was making up excuses. This comes out in the form of manipulation. Every alcoholic goes through this sort of denial in some form or another. Perhaps they only manipulate themselves in order to keep drinking and justifying it. Either way they are hurting themselves until they can reach the point of true surrender.
When the alcoholic surrenders they let go of all of this need for control. They become so miserable that they drop the whole act, all at once. They give up on the idea that they can keep drinking and using alcohol to make themselves happy.
When this point of surrender is reached the alcoholic stops caring. They stop caring about themselves, they stop caring about others, they just stop caring about everything. And they stop trying to manipulate and control their lives. They give up entirely. They accept defeat from the alcoholism. Many people describe being on the brink of suicide. Because they suddenly do not care any more. This is true surrender.
So what happens in terms of rehab? They become open to it. It is not like they are rushing out to the nearest treatment center with leaps of joy though. It is not like that. They simply become open to it as a possible solution. They probably do not have much hope at this point, though if they understood surrender better then they would have a great deal of hope at this time.
They may or may not ask for help. They may or may not have people in their life who make suggestions about getting help. Hopefully they somehow get steered into rehab. Generally speaking the alcoholic needs to ask for help at this point in some way.
Now whatever is suggested to them (go to AA, go to rehab, get a sponsor, go to meetings, go to counseling, go see a doctor, go see a professional, etc.) it doesn’t really matter much. In fact they don’t even necessarily have to end up at an inpatient rehab center. The fact that they have surrendered (truly surrendered) and they are asking for help is what is important here. Someone might suggest that they go to AA meetings and so they might start with that. If they follow through and keep taking suggestions (which they most undoubtedly will, because they have reached true surrender) then things will start to get better. So long as they can disrupt their pattern of drinking then they are on the right track in recovery now. Ask for help, follow through. Early recovery is all about taking action.
Realize that in some cases the alcoholic does not even depend on inpatient rehab at all. They may simply start going to AA and become sober. At one time in history this was actually the only option, as AA existed but rehab did not! So you can see that it is all about follow through. It is about taking action. And that always comes back to surrender. Has the alcoholic really reached a point of true surrender? If not, then results will be bad. But if they have surrendered then they will follow through after asking for help and things will turn out better.
Rehab itself is optional in extreme cases. Does this mean that you (or other alcoholics) should skip rehab altogether? No it does not. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be. But understand what is really going on when someone gets clean and sober. There is no magic wand out there that can force an alcoholic to want to stop drinking. You cannot buy a magic wand by choosing just the right rehab center. If one rehab center says that they have 42 percent success rate, and other rehab claims that they have a 43 percent success rate, and you are choosing the rehabs based on this sort of hope, then you have misunderstood me completely. That sort of hope does not exist in addiction recovery! It is a false hope. Because that hope signifies a belief that you can buy your recovery. That hope signifies a belief that rehab A has some magic up their sleeve that rehab B does not know about. And this is false. We know this to be false. There is no magic bullet out there in the world of recovery.
So when it comes time to choose a rehab center, remember this:
1) Get on the phone. Start calling rehabs. Ask questions. Call more rehabs, ask more questions. Keep doing this until you have a clear path forward. Don’t pretend that you are serious about rehab unless you are talking to them on the phone!
2) Just do it. Don’t quibble. Get on the phone and ask questions. Don’t search for the perfect rehab. Don’t try to compare success rates. You are missing the point and lack understanding of how surrender truly works. It is about total surrender rather than quality of treatment. Don’t confuse the two. In other words, you cannot overcome a lack of surrender by going to a nicer (or more expensive) treatment center.
3) Are you on the phone yet? Seriously. You have either surrendered or you haven’t.
How do you respond when a rehab center says “sorry, we can’t help you.”
So let’s say that you have taken my advice above and you have decided that you want to get help (either for yourself or for a loved one in your family).
You are on the phone with a rehab center and you have described your problem and the person you are talking to says:
“Sorry, I don’t think we can help you. You cannot come to this rehab center.”
At that point, you need to dig a little deeper. Don’t just say “thanks” and hang up. Try to find out what your next step is.
Be extremely polite at all times, but then go on to ask the person:
* What other options are available to us?
* What would you recommend that we do next in order to get help?
* What is the reason that we cannot attend your treatment center? Are there any options for us? Can we call another agency to get help?
* Are there other rehabs in this area that might be able to help us? Who would you recommend that we call?
In many cases this is going to come down to funding. Treatment costs money. Health care in general continues to rise and addiction rehab centers are no exception. They have costs to cover as well and those costs have spiraled up just like everything else in health care.
So the issue of whether a treatment center says “yes” or “no” will almost always come down to funding. Do you have insurance? Do you have Medicare? Are you paying with cash out of pocket? And so on. Unfortunately, it often comes down to funding.
A few things about that:
* The cost that you pay for treatment is either way too much or way too little depending on the outcome. If you relapse then it will always seem like you wasted whatever it “cost” you. If you remain clean and sober then you got a bargain no matter how much you paid for rehab.
* Sometimes those who have insurance get the worse deal. Strange but true. Of course this all depends on what country (or State) that you live in. In many cases, someone will have private insurance but they may not be able to afford the out of pocket costs for treatment. At the same time, people who have no insurance at all may be able to get “free” treatment because there will be programs or grants set aside to help such people. Sometimes the system is not fair. But obviously you cannot fight the system directly and you have to deal with it as it is. The best way to do this is to GET ON THE PHONE and be extremely polite and ask questions. Find out what you can, learn what you can, and try to take that next step in order to get the help that you need. If you have a bad attitude and are rude to the people that you speak with then you may find it harder to open doors for yourself. Be nice, be desperate, and be persistent when you are trying to get funding for rehab.
There is always something more that you can do for your recovery effort. If a rehab says “no” to you then that is not the end of the line. Not by a long shot. I know many people who got sober by simply hanging out at the AA hall every day for several months. How bad do you want it? How desperate are you? If you are truly desperate for change in your life then you won’t take “no” for an answer. There are many rehabs out there. There are many ways to get help for addiction.
What to do if you go to treatment and then relapse
Now if you happen to go to rehab and then you end up relapsing afterward then this is not unusual. In fact this happens more often than not. It is not the end of all hope, in fact it can be exactly what you may have needed in order to show you that you were not serious enough the first time around. A relapse can reveal a deeper level of surrender. You must realize that you did not do something right the first time around.
The solution is to try again. Now there is a saying in recovery that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” So we need to apply this to recovery in every way as well. If you go to rehab and then relapse, should you just turn around and go back to rehab again? Or maybe find a different rehab? What needs to change?
This is easy to get confused about. What needs to change is simply this:
It doesn’t matter which rehab you go to. You can go to the exact rehab that you went to in the past, it doesn’t matter. The part that needs to change is your level of surrender.
In fact, you can go ahead and change everything else expect for your level of surrender, and you will still relapse again. Go find a new rehab. Go travel across the country and find the best rehab center in the world. It doesn’t matter unless you have changed the one thing that actually matters:
Your level of surrender and therefore your level of willingness.
Surrender leads to willingness.
Willingness leads to action.
Action produces sobriety.
This is the path to success in recovery.
You can’t buy this formula by choosing the right rehab.
So, get on the phone already.
And just go.