Helping Addicts

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10 Reasons that Struggling Addicts or Alcoholics should go to Rehab

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Unbelievably, the U.S. Government reports that 87 percent of alcoholics do not even see a need for treatment, at all.  They are completely oblivious to their problem, and remain stuck in heavy denial.  Almost 90 percent!  So with that statistic in mind, here are 10 reasons that addicts and alcoholics should go to drug rehab.

1. Going to rehab can literally save your life.

It should be no secret to anyone that many addicts and alcoholics are teetering on the brink of death due to their disease. Treatment can literally save their life in some cases.

But of course the truth runs much deeper than that, and in fact, treatment can save your life on any number of levels, in ways that we may never predict. The fact is that going to rehab and turning your life around can afford the addict so many more opportunities for life–not just from chemical abstinence, but from a complete change in lifestyle.

There is a popular saying in traditional recovery: “If the drugs don’t kill you, the lifestyle will.” What does this mean? It means that the way we live in active addiction is dangerous and, in many cases, lethal. We do things and get into situations where we put ourselves at risk. We engage in risky behaviors that compromise our health in both direct and indirect ways. And our path through addiction can lead us to do things that seriously affect our long term health.

For example, many alcoholics also smoke cigarettes. Guess what the number one killer of recovering alcoholics is? Lung cancer.

And how many alcoholics really have a chance at quitting smoking if they are still drinking every day? Pretty much zero.

Does this mean that everyone who sobers up will also quit smoking? Of course not. But it illustrates an idea: that recovery leads us towards healthier decisions. Rehab can affect our long term health outlook in several different ways.

2. Going to rehab can give you a new network of positive people in your life.

This can be more important for some addicts than others, but just about anyone who is addicted can benefit greatly from having more positive people in their life who are clean and sober. The fact is that “we are an average of our 5 best friends.” Most of us had people in active addiction that we used to drink or get high with, and these relationships will need to be replaced if we are to have a genuine shot at staying clean in recovery.

This becomes doubly true for younger people who are trying to get clean. Because peer influence is greater at younger ages, it becomes even more important for younger people to find new positive influences in their life.

People who are in treatment together often exchange phone numbers and attempt to stay in touch. Some of these new relationships will work out, and others will not. Many will relapse. But you take what works and go with it in recovery.

Especially in early recovery, networking with others is important. Later on, as you establish more sobriety, the emphasis should shift to personal growth. If it doesn’t, you run the risk of relapsing due to having too much dependence on social networking. But early in the recovery game, you need to meet others in recovery, and rehab is a great place to do that.

3. Going to rehab gives you a window of opportunity to stay sober.

Some people cannot string together even a few days of sobriety. For these folks, and for anyone else who may struggle with addiction, going to rehab at least gives you a fighting chance. A safe environment, combined with a medical detox, will give anyone at least a baseline of abstinence from which they can then choose to build from.

There are no guarantees, of course. Many who get “spun dry” in a short term rehab do end up relapsing shortly after leaving. But at least it offers a chance that some addicts and alcoholics never even give themselves. At the very least, any addict can go through detox and at least get a few short weeks of sobriety under their belt.

At this point, the fog can start to lift, and the addict can decide if they really want to make the effort to stay clean and sober or not. Without a baseline of abstinence, however, no competent or lucid decision about recovery is even possible.

In other words, go to rehab, just for the sake of clearing your mind enough to see if you want to change your life. You might surprise yourself.

4. Going to rehab can set you up for long term success in recovery.

Anyone can get clean and sober. It is another thing entirely to stay clean and sober.

Long term success in recovery is no accident. It takes deliberate effort, and does not happen by chance, or by accident. You have to realize that the natural state of the addict is to be using drugs and alcohol. That is what comes normally to them. It is natural for them to self medicate. So it takes deliberate effort to reverse this.

Going to rehab can set you up for long term success by putting you on this path of deliberate action. For example, they may introduce you to meetings that may help you to stay stable in your early recovery, and help you to meet the people who can influence you and teach you how to live sober. Or, you might meet a counselor or therapist in rehab who continues to see you on an outpatient basis, pushing you to keep growing in your recovery.

The things that you learn in rehab can serve as a foundation for your new life in recovery. Another example, for me, was in a rehab class that was called “balanced lifestyle.” At the time, I did not see how this really applied to my life, and I thought that the material was irrelevant to my recovery. But as I stayed clean and sober, I started to realize the importance of balance in my life, and so this early lesson in rehab actually did set me up for long term success.

In other words, going to drug rehab is about much more than just getting dried out for the short term. If you pay attention and really try to absorb what they are saying, rehab can set you up for long term success in your recovery, if you are willing to put in the footwork.

5. Going to rehab can give you back the simple pleasures in life.

Before I managed to get clean and sober, I had the chance to hear someone in recovery talk about their life, and how it had changed. They had overcome their addiction, and they were excited about living again, and could take joy in doing normal things again.

I could not relate to this. I was stuck in addiction, and getting wasted was my only outlet. That was all I wanted in life. Going to a baseball game, or snowboarding, or taking an exotic vacation–it all sounded like such a chore. Nothing appealed to me except getting high.

Of course, now that I am in recovery, I can appreciate the simplicity of having a day off and being able to take run in nice weather. Or I can appreciate a simple meal that is shared with other people who I care about. In fact, some of the simple things in my life have become really awesome, simply due to a shift in perspective.

I did not think this shift would happen for me if I stayed clean and sober, but it did. And it will happen for anyone who sticks it out in recovery. Your world will open up to you all over again, and you will start to take pleasure in the simple things. Life will have meaning again.

6. Going to rehab can lead to better holistic health.

The goal of recovery goes beyond mere abstinence. The idea is to get clean and sober and start living healthier overall. There are many benefits to doing this and actually seeking holistic health in your life, not the least of which is that it helps you to stay clean and sober.

There is a positive feedback loop that comes from treating yourself well in recovery. It has to do with self esteem. If you seek holistic health, and really try to treat yourself good in all areas of your life and health (such as physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, etc.), then you will naturally feel better about yourself and you will value your own life more.

If you treat yourself well in recovery and thus value your life more, then you will tend to take better care of yourself. This is the positive feedback loop. A push for better holistic health yields a tendency to live healthier. It is a positive cycle that has to start with action.

Most people can easily get started on these principles by attending rehab. You start with abstinence from your drug of choice. But many people go on to include exercise, quitting smoking, and maybe meditation or even breathing exercises. We start to open up to these types of choices as possibilities in our lives, whereas in active addiction, we would not have ever dreamed of pursuing these types of activities.

The bonus here is that holistic health enhances your overall recovery, and also helps you to stay clean. For example, quitting smoking gives you a cushion to fall back on rather than relapsing directly to your drug of choice. (In other words, you would sooner smoke a cigarette than you would to relapse on your drug of choice, but this option is only available if you have quit smoking in recovery). Another example might be the enormous boost in endorphins that you get from regular, vigorous exercise–a technique that is so incredibly powerful for staying sober, that some recovery programs are completely centered around physical exercise as a means of maintaining abstinence.

For many people, going to rehab opens the door to the possibility for holistic health.

7. Going to rehab can save a ton of money in the long run.

The economics of recovery are simply staggering. The amount of money, time, and value that you save by being clean and sober is absolutely astounding. Really, it is a night-and-day difference that is the difference between having a life, and not having a life. In active addiction, your finances are in shambles. In recovery, the sky is the limit.

When I was still using drugs and alcohol, I thought that the cost of rehab was shocking. How little did I know at the time! Rehab paid for itself several times over, and that was just within the first year of my recovery. Now that I have been clean and sober for almost a decade and can look back at the money saved, the cost of any treatment is absolutely trivial.

Most people, when considering the money spent on their addiction, don’t really dig deep enough. It is more than just the dollars spent on your drug of choice. You have to account for all sorts of extra things that cost you indirectly, such as missed days of work, missed promotions, working in a lessor job than you otherwise would have achieved, and so on. Then there are the side issues such as the cost of cigarettes, which are likely a byproduct of your main addiction, and so on. The total cost that we spend on our disease is always much higher than we first assume.

In recovery, the savings is also much more than what we assume at first. It goes far beyond just “not spending money on drugs.” We become more productive, and provide more value to society. This always pays us off in some way, whether that is directly with cash, or indirectly by some other means. But our lives are enriched in so many meaningful ways, and we start to reap the dividends over time.

As we stay clean and sober in recovery, our financial outlook only continues to improve. Keep doing the right thing, over and over again, and it will continue to add up. Managing money can actually become easy in recovery.

8. Going to rehab gives you an opportunity to rebuild relationships in your life.

Many addicts and alcoholics have damaged relationships in their lives that they may think are beyond repair. Or, they have hurt the ones that are closest to them due to their addiction, and they may wonder if they can ever hope to repair that damage.

The foundation for doing so is always going to be continuous sobriety. Without that, fixing old problems is going to be impossible. Therefore, going to rehab can become the bridge that can get us to this point in our recovery.

It does not always happen overnight, of course. Most addicts and alcoholics have vowed to sober up at some point in the past, and then not followed through with it. It can take time to rebuild trust.

And there is no guarantee that everything will be rosy again once you are in rehab. Keep your expectations low about how quickly you can mend broken fences. Better to concentrate on your sobriety at first, and get your own life straightened out.

Once you have established some sobriety, that is when the opportunity comes in. This is how rehab can give us a second chance in some of our relationships. We have to put in the work and earn our right to become a new person in recovery. Our continued success in recovery is the change that allows us to rebuild our relationships.

9. Going to rehab can help you to reconnect spiritually.

Just about anyone who is struggling with addiction has become spiritually deficient in some way. No one who checks into rehab is happy with where they are at spiritually in their lives. So it is an opportunity to start rebuilding ourselves from a spiritual standpoint.

Rehab is an awesome environment in which to start growing spiritually again, because you are making so many new connections right off the bat. You are meeting other addicts in recovery and you are helping each other to get help for your addiction. This networking with our peers is a huge part of growing spiritually in early recovery.

Later on, our spiritual path may take us in many different directions. It does not always have to be about networking with others, or about helping other addicts. But in early recovery, these ideas make it fairly easy to reconnect with our spiritual side. Recovery, and rehab, become a platform by which we can explore our spirituality.

Without the break from active using and the baseline of abstinence that you get from going to rehab, making any sort of spiritual progress is incredibly difficult for someone who is struggling with addiction. Usually, if we are still using drugs and alcohol, then we are just lying to ourselves if we claim that we are making spiritual gains. We have to get clean and sober to even have a chance at reconnecting with our spiritual side.

10. Going to rehab can give you your life back.

Ultimately, you gain the whole world by going to rehab, if you manage to stay clean and sober. Any addict who has struggled through addiction and found recovery can look back and say “Yes, I have gained the whole world by going to treatment. It has given me back my entire life.”

It is more than just money, or spirituality, or relationships. It is everything. We gain our whole self back in recovery, our whole world. It is the ultimate reward, to be able to rediscover yourself in recovery.

 

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  • Dori

    I am an alcoholic who went to rehab 4 years ago. Unfortunately, I did not “Learn my lesson” and went back to drinking. Having learned the “tools” during my rehab – just choosing to ignore what I had learned – do you feel rehab is necessary again? I have not used alcohol for a little more than a month now —

    I appreciate your input and have found your site very soothing & to the point.

  • Patrick

    That is an excellent question, Dori. I should explore it in a full post some day.

    Basically, yes….I think another trip to rehab is helpful. My research just taught me that the average sober alcoholic or addict had to go to rehab 3 to 4 times before “getting it.” I myself went 3 times.

    Rehab still has value, even if you “know it all.” It is more about the living it, rather than the knowing. Rehab can still be useful….

  • Barbie

    Hi,
    i dont know if i should consider myself an alcoholic because just recently, i had a big fight with my boyfriend about alcohol. He said he did not mind me drinking but it’s the binge drinking that bothered him. I assured him i would not drink again but just two days later, i was down and “blacked out”. I drank because i was at this party and if otherwise, i wouldn’t have. I am really worried that our relationship is going down the drain because this is not the first time we are fighting about this. How we get here again, i cannot explain..

  • Patrick

    @ Barbie – if you want to make good on the relationship, I would take a serious look at getting some professional help for your drinking issue. Most “problem drinkers” do not black out, as a general rule (though it is possible for anyone to do).

    If you did go to treatment and became sober, I doubt you would regret doing so. Something to think about. Plus, it would likely have a very positive affect on your relationship….

  • Joy

    My brother is an alcoholic. He’s had 3 opportunities to go to rehab now and has either rejected them or left after a week. He has said he finds being around people day and night too hard to deal with. One of his problems is he feels he has to create a false persona to get along and then he needs to drink to cope with the stress of the lie. He’s very ill and at this point, we don’t know where he is.

    When we do find him, I want him to go to rehab, no more negotiating. But of course, this is ridiculous. He’s a grown man, we can’t force him. Is there anything we can say that might help? I believe he wants to live but it’s that wall of fear, as you said.

  • Patrick

    @ Joy – Actually in some states you can force someone into rehab through the committing process. I don’t know much about it, just that it does exist. You might call a local rehab and find out if that is the case where you live.

    If he is scared to go to rehab then what about encouraging counseling, or meetings? Or outpatient therapy?

    I was scared too but at some point I got miserable enough that I no longer cared about the fear. I was too tired to keep caring about my fear and anxiety regarding meetings and recovery and living without booze. So I caved in and went to rehab and faced my fear.

    But I had to get miserable first, and desperate. I had to be alone. My enablers gone.

  • Kwena

    hi,

    Thanks for this kind of blogs , it really helps.

    My brother is 20 years old, alcoholic, I arranged therapy and rehab but he does not know yet. God will give us strength.

  • Shotty

    I personally don’t think I have a drug problem. I’ve experimented with every drug I could get ahold of. A while back I had a little problem with ice, but i’ve never been physically addicted. My friends and family all believe rehab would be good for me but I just think they’re over reacting. Drugs are a big part of my life, I don’t feel whole without them. I can go awhile without them but the second I see a drug infront of me, let alone peer pressure on me to do them, i can’t control myself. Everything I told/promised myself about not doing a certain drug is completely gone the second I see it.

    Basically – Do you think rehab would be good? I think I can do it alone, but I don’t know. I’ve always viewed rehab as somewhere where crackheads who live on the streets need to go, ya know? people who are physically addicted.

  • Anonymous

    My son is 24years old and a binge drinker. He has hit rock bottom and I am trying to get him to go to an inpt program. He admits he needs help and is willing to get it but is trying to convince himself that he can do outpt herapy and there is no way he can do it by himself. This has been going on for two years and last night we spent the night in the er for alchol poisoning and this is not the first time. He fell down a flight of stairs before and thank god he didnt break his neck. I have a five year old at home also and he just cant be around him anymore. I told him either go get help or you have to get out. Any advice

  • Candy

    @ Anonymous (21 Jan 2011) – I’m also 24, but I have a child and husband to motivate me to get sober (I’m taking it day by day!). With a single son, living under your roof, I’d say to literally take him to an inpatient rehab and make him stay for at LEAST a week. A month or two would be better. He’s a danger to himself and society, and I bet he knows it (even if he won’t admit it, like me), so with an initial intense rehab, he’ll learn the tools to survive without chemical interference. If it was me in his position, I wouldn’t like it, but I would need someone to say “Enough is enough”. He can’t say it for himself.

    Blessed Be

  • http://spiritualriver angie

    hiya im angie and im an alcholic i went to rehab in 2008 and have never picked up a drink since i started drinking at 8 and am now 45 it worked for me it showed me how to live life on lifes term’s and i atend a.a regularly so i can help the still suffering alcholic my life is wonderfull now got my family back my job back my car back etc i for one do not want that misserable life back thanks angie harrogate

  • Anlyn

    My 26 yo daughter is a binge drinker and “occasional” cocaine user. She has put herself in danger several times. She just finished university and lives at home but goes off on the weekends for 2-3 days before returning looking terrible. She has started counceling for alcohol abuse, but I’m pretty sure she went out drinking that night. Should she go to a rehab program?

  • Patrick

    @ Anlyn – If she is willing to go to a rehab program then I would definitely encourage it. Anyone who is using both cocaine + alcohol has very likely progressed beyond recreational use, in my opinion. Now that is a generalization of sorts but cocaine is not a very casual drug. Using it, to me, sort of implies a need or a want to self medicate in a big way. And combining it with alcohol can really escalate things quickly.

    So if she is willing to go to rehab I would push hard for it and even make sacrifices to make it happen. If she is not willing to go then I would concentrate on NOT enabling her, and backing off a bit.

    Just my 2 cents…..good luck.

  • susan

    I’ve been smoking cigarettes since the age of 15. I was able to quit for 6mos on one occasion and 4
    weeks on the 2nd. It’s a full time habit and has resulted in more illnesses (ischemic colitis, 2 dreadful pneumonias, etc.) than many illegal drugs. I’ve been self-employed since the age of 25 and even though I owned a bunch of stores for many years; the downside is i was able to smoke cigarettes full time while working. I’ve harmed my health thru a legal product more than most drug addicts, like cocaine users, pot smokers and so on. I’m no longer self-employed and don’t have to work but choose to. I have to use RX Nicotrol inhalers whilst working and all i think about is getting away from the office so i can light up. I feel like a slave to this, but I do know one day i’ll quit and never make the mistake of thinking that I can just have one and stop. Also, in times of stress i’ll make sure not to let it break me.

  • Sara

    I am 25 years old, and my boyfriend of 3 years just went into rehab for opiates. I used as well, and have gotten clean and am attending meetings. He was only in rehab 12 days (to detox) and the whole time we talked and he said he missed me, loved me, wanted to see me, and that we would have a clean future together. Now, I am confused. He got out 2 days early, and when I spoke to him he was clearly scared, overwhelmed, and still a little sick. He believes he has a 10% chance of staying clean, aka surviving, and if he does not focus all his time and energy on himself and his recovery, he might fail, aka die. He said all he needs from me is for me to work on myself, and give him time without saying “We are done.” So I promised I would give him time, and he promised that when he was in a good place and comfortable with himself, and being sober, that we would be together again, and see if we can have a healthy, clean, stable relationship.

    The problem is all the self-doubt I am having. I have not spoken to him in 4 days now. He is staying with friends (2 guys, he says) in Virginia, going to meetings and focusing on himself. At least that is what he told me, his mom, and his brother. I miss him, obviously. But I love him enough to give him the time he needs. If I only knew that this was what it was. That he still remembered me, knew that I was on the same page and was working on me too.

    Has anyone been through this? In their experience does the other person really mean, “I need time”, or does that usually mean “I need an easy way out of this relationship because it is too much right now”. This man loves me, has been very devoted to me for years, and I him. It is hard to think he is not missing me now. But I realize he his not himself. He is not himself. Do people fall out of love after rehab? Does it make you feel that different? He cannot forget/discount 3 years after 12 days, right? I know there are not real answers to these questions. I am hoping someone has a similar situation they are willing to share. Thanks for reading. :)

  • terence

    i was an habitual social drinker ounger days,i am now 55 struggling with my addiction
    I thought now i am married i can now control my drinking, until fridays only .i am ok until friday i get an urge to drink alcohol beer mainly ie stella artois,i can consume 8 cans of this lager very easy.If i go to any function i not control my intake .It could be 8 cans of lager or basically any thing alcoholic i have gone 4 weeks with no drink,the alcholic urge to drink has been strong!
    i failed my self on 28/08 /2011 i have consumed 2 bottles of 14 percent wine i do not know what to do .i have a wife for 15 years and 3 children,15,14,12,

  • terence.

    I know only to well the strong urge for alcohol. I go 8 weeks without a drink then think I am cured and pick up “just the one glass, but that one leads to a 3 day bender”.
    If you don’t want to loose your wife and children you have a choice… Don’t pick up the first one

  • deepa

    hi my brother is 17 yrs of age and he smokes a lot.we have tried to make him understand that it is not good for him.he is just too young to be trying such things.he pretends that he will take our advise seriously but after 2-3 days he is back to the same thing.he’s friends circle is not good..how much ever we try to make him correct he is just going opposite of that.we have caught him smoking many times and he promises he will not do it again but he keeps doing it..we feel so helpless..don’t know what to do..we don;t want him to get spoil like this..he sometimes go to pubs n all n take drinks as well.

  • paula

    Hi, my 48 year old boyfriend broke up with me after 2 years because I was worried about his addiction. His excuse was that he loves me but is no longer in love with me as well as he doesn’t know if he can be monogamous. This is a total copout. I think he just got tired of being good in my eyes. He has anger issues and had started getting angry at me when he was drinking. I think it scared him so he broke it off. His job is day by day so on the days he is not called in he drinks anywhere from 6 – 8 pints of beer. In addition he smokes cigarettes and pot. It is horrible for me to watch as I do none of these things. He also does not eat properly and has severe stomach problems (probably from drinking) as well as an awful cough. He is a great person when he is sober but all he talks about when he is sober is how much he is craving beer and pot. I’m going through a rough time with the breakup but I know it’s the right thing for me. I cannot rescue him and he may love me but not as much as his addictions. He has no assets and most of his friends are exactly like him…living day to day to support their addictions. I am trying to deal with feeling guilty at being happy that we have broken up. I don’t want to worry about a man who has no ambition except to get high and drunk. But, I miss him. I hope the time passes quickly so I can stop crying and get over him. This too shall pass. As I reread my notes I realize once again that this is not a man I can help or rescue. He has chosen his addictions over living a good healthy life and he thinks he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. He does not realize that he is a slave to his addictions and has no control over anything. I pray he can sober up and quit smoking but this is all linked to depression and his own feelings of failure and inadequacy. Drinking and smoking is just another way to not think about life. I hope he is able to recover but I doubt it as all his friends are exactly like him. Looking for the next beer and high. I am so sad that such a talented loving man is a victim.

  • she

    I know whats right but have no courage?