What does it take in order to successful at inpatient treatment?
Some preparation is in order, but I want to convey the idea to you that what is really necessary is surrender. If you can surrender completely and then follow that up with real action, you have everything that you need to be successful in treatment.
Most people who go to inpatient treatment are not actually ready to turn their whole life around. You can see the evidence for this statement by looking at the success rates from various treatment programs–most of them are not so impressive. This is because “total and complete surrender” is actually quite rare.
Many, many struggling addicts and alcoholics reach a point of partial surrender. They wish that things were different in their life, and they wish that their addiction did not come with so many consequences. Unfortunately, they are not necessarily ready to do whatever it takes in order to recover, and therefore they stay stuck in a cycle of denial and relapse.
In other words, it is fairly common for a struggling addict or alcoholic to want all of the rewards of sobriety without having to put in all of the hard work for it. Anyone who has attending any kind of addiction treatment, only to later relapse, is guilty of not being in a state of “total and complete surrender.”
So really, in order to properly prepare yourself for inpatient treatment, you must work through your denial and surrender completely. I can remember when I was still stuck in my active disease and I wanted for things to be different, but I was not willing to go to AA meetings. I had been to treatment twice before, and I knew that rehab basically pushed people towards AA or something similar as the solution, and I was not really courageous enough to embrace those solutions. I had too much social anxiety and I was afraid of being in a group of people. I was afraid of AA and I was afraid of rehab, and it was so much easier for me to drink and stay hidden in my tiny little world, inside of my shell, rather than to face reality and try to recover.
And this is essentially what you are doing when you choose recovery over addiction: You are deciding to seek solutions rather than self medicate using a (mostly) failed solution, which has been your drug of choice. We became addicted because our drug of choice did something for us, and it must have worked well in order for us to become addicted in the first place. I drank because I liked the effect and because it was working for me at the time. Alcohol did exactly what I wanted it to do and that is why I became alcoholic. Over time, the consequences piled up and my tolerance shifted to the point that drinking was no longer giving me the escape that I wanted, and it was becoming less and less effective for me. I had to keep increasing the dose or mix it with other drugs and substances in order to really medicate myself and escape totally.
In the end I realized that it would never do exactly what I wanted it to do for me again, not consistently anyway. Sure, I could take a week or two off of alcohol in order to get fully loaded and properly medicated again, but what would I do in the meantime? Just suffer? That seemed like a bad deal–two weeks of white knuckling it so that I could get trashed again for one night of “bliss.” Not worth it.
Not any more. It used to be worth it, which is why I was alcoholic. I could “reset” every single night and get loaded the next day and still enjoy myself. But eventually tolerance stole that away from me and I was just miserable every day. It wasn’t fun any more.
Preparing for success in recovery begins with the realization that I just described to you. If the person happens to be in deep denial then they will not agree with what I have described above. They will argue that alcohol is still working well for them, that they still enjoy it, that they are miserable only when they are sober. If they are still in denial then they will not be open to the idea that treatment could help them and possibly change their life.
So how do you go from being stuck in denial to being willing to change? How does a person get prepared for success in recovery, rather than just dabbling in rehab before going back to relapse?
The difference has to do with the level of desperation. If the person has hit rock bottom and they are truly desperate then they are much more likely to succeed in recovery. If they are still believing that they could control the situation, that they might still be able to drink successfully, that they might be able to somehow control their using while maintaining control, then that person is still in some level of denial, and their chances for success are not good.
We should add “at this time” to that previous statement. Anyone in denial does not have good chances of success….yet. If they continue to struggle in addiction, however, then they will edge closer and closer to their true moment of desperation. We don’t really get to decide when it is that we hit rock bottom. We don’t get to decide the exact moment that our brain says “enough is enough, there has to be a better way.” That moment of surrender and the corresponding moment of clarity seems to just happen on its own for people, without rhyme or reason.
My recommendation for anyone who is struggling with denial would be to go to therapy, go see a counselor, and start talking about your problems. If you are willing to go to inpatient treatment then do that as well. If you are willing to go to AA or NA meetings then do that too. Any and all of it is helpful, even if you are technically still stuck in denial then you might hear something that clicks for you, you might hear something that becomes relevant later on, and you might hear just the right thing that wakes you up to the reality you are living in.
They talk about this as the concept of “planting seeds” for later on. I went to treatment 3 times before it finally “took” for me. The first two times I went the therapists and counselors were really just planting seeds for me, giving me a glimpse of the solution, even though I was not ready to accept it yet. I had to go back out and find more misery and more chaos before I would eventually become willing to break through my denial and ask for serious help.
If you or someone that you love is near the point of surrender and breaking through their denial then I would recommend that you urge them to go to rehab. There is no worse case scenario if they willingly go to treatment. Even if they are not 100 percent out of denial then at least they will get the “planting seeds” thing while they absorb as much as they can in rehab. Good luck to anyone who is struggling out there today. Seek help soon!