The question that I hear from a lot of struggling addicts and alcoholics is this: “Can I get over my alcoholism or drug addiction without having to attend drug rehab?”
I would argue that such a person is asking the wrong question.
Here is why:
First of all, the question implies that the person who is asking it is worried about the stigma of going to inpatient treatment. For whatever reason, they do not want to admit that they need rehab, or that they are out of control, or that they could possibly need that much help. They feel as if they are being judged if they “have to go to rehab.” They are being controlled by the stigma against addiction and against treatment itself.
This is a huge mistake. Anyone who is avoiding treatment in order to “save face” or to feel good about themselves is making a definite mistake. We only hurt ourselves when we deny ourselves the treatment that we need.
The real question that a struggling addict or alcoholic should be asking themselves is not “can I fix this without rehab” but instead something more along the lines of “Am I really happy?”
Now that might surprise you, but this is the kind of question that gets at the root of your denial. You see, the typical addict or alcoholic is avoiding rehab and arguing that they have to drink or take drugs in order to find any happiness in their life at all. They say things like “if you take away my drug of choice then I will be completely miserable all the time.”
This is denial. The person believes that the only way they can ever be happy is by self medicating. But the reality is that their tolerance from addiction has cheated them out of happiness, and they are already living in a miserable state during active addiction. Yet their denial convinces them that they are somehow happy while they are abusing their drug of choice.
So the question that they should be asking is “Am I really happy while abusing my drug of choice? Am I happy today? Am I happy right now?”
And if you keep pushing that question then eventually the drug addict or alcoholic is going to realize that they are not, in fact, very happy at all.
But of course, they are in denial, so they keep telling themselves that they can be happy at any time just by using their drug of choice. They are caught in a cycle of denial, chaos, and misery. And they are probably telling themselves that this is normal; that this is how everyone behaves.
At some point the struggling addict or alcoholic will (hopefully) break through this denial and realize that they are, in fact, completely miserable while attempting to self medicate.
It is at this point of surrender, at this point of desperation, that the individual will become open to new solutions.
If a person is not at the point that they are willing to entertain the possibility of rehab, or of going to a 28 day inpatient program, then they are likely not ready to change their life and work a real program of recovery.
You have to think about the overall perspective of recovery itself. This is not a small endeavor, to turn your life around and overcome alcoholism or drug addiction. The truth is that going to a 28 day inpatient treatment program is almost nothing, it is merely the tip of the iceberg that is “your total effort in recovery.”
What do I mean by that? What I am saying is that if you believe that going to a 28 day inpatient program is too big of a commitment, or if it is too much of a disruption in your life, then you are definitely not ready to take on the massive commitment that is recovery itself.
Recovery is a lifelong effort, it is a massive undertaking, and going to a 28 day rehab at the beginning of it is just a tiny little slice of your overall efforts. If you are caught up on this initial rehab visit as being “too much” for some reason, then you just aren’t ready to tackle this particular goal just yet.
Because the real effort that is required in recovery goes far beyond the initial 28 program. Your total commitment and your total effort, if successful, is absolutely going to dwarf the tiny little one month visit at the start of recovery.
So much suggestion to you is this:
Sure, someone, somewhere, at some time, has certainly become clean and sober without an actual visit to rehab. I’m not trying to convince you otherwise. There are exceptions to everything.
But what I am saying to you is this:
If you love your life and you want to live, if you are sick and tired of playing games with your drinking or drug use, then it is time to make a serious effort. If you are at this point, if you are really sick of it all and you want to surrender, then it is time to make a decision.
And when you reach this point, once you fully surrender and you are serious about recovery, you are not going to be adamantly opposed to anything in particular, you are not going to be arguing against inpatient treatment or anything else. That is not real surrender. That is not the state of willingness that can potentially overcome addiction.
No, if you want to escape your addiction and build a new life in recovery, then you cannot be attempting to find shortcuts and figure out how to design your own recovery path. It doesn’t work that way.
Real addicts and alcoholics have to ask for help, then they have to follow directions. That is just the reality of addiction recovery. We cannot solve our own problem of addiction by ourselves with no outside help. If we could then addiction would not exist, treatment centers would vanish, and the world would just move on with itself.
The reality is that if you are serious about avoiding rehab, then just stop abusing substances on your own and live your own life and be happy. If that is not realistic, if you find that this is not working for you, then consider the possibility that you actually do need some help.
When you need help, when you really need help, you don’t get to declare exactly what it is that you need. That’s not fair. It doesn’t work that way.
Another way to say it is this: If you knew exactly what you needed in order to beat addiction, then you would not be asking for help, there would be no issue, you would have simply solved it yourself and moved on already.
The truth is, if you are a struggling addict or alcoholic, then inpatient treatment is the best possible choice that you could make for yourself right now. Get over the stigma already because the rest of the world already has, and they are fine with it and they have moved on. In other words, no one cares if you go to rehab except for you. So get over yourself and go turn your life around!