The best way to prepare for inpatient addiction treatment is to set it up over the phone, schedule an appointment, and then figure out what you need to do in order to get ready. Honestly there isn’t much more than making the appointment and showing up for it. This is 99 percent of the battle when it comes to inpatient treatment.
Everyone is scared of going to treatment, whether they admit it or not. It is scary to check into a rehab facility. I know this because I have done it myself, and I know what it feels like to have to go to rehab. I know what it feels like to be at a point in your life in which you feel out of control, as if nothing can possibly help you, as if you are doomed to live a life of misery in addiction because you cannot figure out how to control yourself.
Preparing yourself for rehab could mean a couple of different things. One is the aspect of denial and surrender: In order to actually convince yourself to attend inpatient treatment, you must first surrender to 2 things: One is the fact that you have a disease, and two is the fact that you cannot overcome this disease without professional help. You must surrender to both things in order to attend treatment.
Two is the idea that actually need to pick up the phone can call a rehab and make an appointment. This is honestly fairly simple to do, you just have to pick up the phone, dial the number, and start asking questions. The rest should take care of itself.
And quite honestly, figuring out what to put in your duffel bag when you are about to leave for rehab is pretty simple too. The people on the phone will tell you what to pack and what to bring. A few changes of clothing and a toothbrush is close to covering the basics. Of course they will give you more detail and have you bring your prescriptions and things like that as well, but this is all fairly simple stuff.
So the real challenge in preparing yourself for treatment is not in the details about where to go, who to call, or what to bring–that stuff all takes care of itself. That stuff is all dead simple.
The tricky part is in preparing yourself for recovery. The tricky part is in breaking through your last bit of denial, so that you actually will agree to seek help, to see it through, to make a serious effort.
If you are not ready to put 100 percent effort into changing your life, then going to treatment is not going to be effective for you. You must be “all in.”
So the question then becomes, how does a person go from being “on the fence” about rehab to being “all in?” How can we bring ourselves closer to this ideal level of willingness?
There are a few important concepts here. One is that you need to realize that if a struggling addict or alcoholic is not ready to change then they are simply not ready to change. Their willingness is going to be based mostly on their level of pain.
What does this mean? It means that if an alcoholic is still drinking and having a good time and they have very few negative consequences happening in their life then they are not likely going to be very willing to change.
Real surrender happens in a moment of extreme desperation. That “turning point” generally only happens if the person has endured a significant level of pain and consequences as a result of their drinking or drug use.
It is not enough for the addict to admit that they have a problem. This is only half of the denial, only half of the surrender. The other half is essentially saying “I know I need professional help, and am willing to do whatever it takes.”
That is the concept that will tip the scales and put that person on the path to recovery. Not admitting to their problem, but becoming desperate for a solution. If they are still trying to figure it out themselves, or insisting that they should be able to stop drinking or taking drugs whenever they really want to (they just don’t want to right now!), then you know that they are still in denial.
It is not denial of the problem that is the issue–that part is obvious. Instead, it is denial of the solution that becomes a roadblock. It is when they say things like “AA will never work for me because going to meetings just makes me want to drink.” Or they say “I went to rehab once and it doesn’t work for me.” Then they are denying the solution, and therefore they have no hope of change at that time.
How do they get to the point of full surrender? Generally, they have to endure more pain and more consequences in their life. My advice to the friends and family members is to get themselves to an Al-anon meeting so that they can learn how to set healthy boundaries. If the friends and families are enabling the person in any way then they are actually part of the problem. They need to learn how to back off, offer treatment as the solution, and then allow the addict or alcoholic to suffer the natural consequences of their actions. Accumulating enough consequences and enough pain may be the only thing that can motivate a person to seek help eventually.
If you are the struggling addict yourself, then my suggestion to you is that you start writing in a daily journal. Every day that you can remember to do so, write down the date for that day and start writing about how you feel, if you are happy or upset that day, and what happened. If you can force yourself to write this down every single day then what you will effectively be doing is forcing your brain to see the truth: That you are miserable in your addiction and that drinking or drug use doesn’t really create any happiness for you. We all hang on to the idea that we can be “happy” any time we want by using our drug of choice, and in the beginning that was certainly true for all of us. But as your addiction progressed it become less and less true, and now you have reached a point in which you are miserable nearly all of the time, and the happy and fun times of getting drunk or high are pretty much long gone. Now you just self medicate in order to avoid complete misery, and it doesn’t really work that well any more.
So if you feel that you may be thinking about changing your life, start writing it down every day–your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions. Keep a happiness log, and keep writing down the dates, and you will start to see a pattern in your life. Addicts and alcoholics are very unhappy people who are usually telling themselves (via denial) that they are actually happy. But the truth is that they have been miserable for a long time. Write it down every day so you can see the truth.
Then when you finally get clean and sober and go to treatment, you can keep up this habit of writing down your feelings every day, and you will see the trend reverse. Very early in recovery you will start to be so much happier, so much more consistently, and you won’t even realize it in some cases unless you write it down on paper. This is the miracle that is recovery–that you can have your life back, that you can be happy and joyous again, that you can be excited about life again.
It is worth the effort. Make the journey today. Call a rehab and get an appointment to change your life.