When I was struggling with my own drug and alcohol addiction I had no idea how I was ever going to break free from it. To be honest, I never really had any great hope that I would actually get clean and sober. I really thought that I was unique and that I was doomed to suffer with addiction for the rest of my life.
One of the reasons that I honestly believed that my case was hopeless was because I had been to rehab twice in the past. This was just before I reached “the turning point.” I had been to 2 treatment centers in the past and failed; I relapsed after each treatment and I did not believe that I could ever really embrace a recovery program.
These two failures illustrate an important point, which most of the world probably realizes by now: Inpatient treatment is not a magic cure that works every time. We all wish that it was a sure fire cure but the reality is that this is not the case.
What really matters when a struggling addict is going to inpatient treatment is their level of surrender. How hard that person works on their recovery is directly related to just how desperate they are for change.
So there are really two elements here that I want you to understand: The first is the level of surrender that a struggling addict or alcoholic has when they are getting motivated to change their life. They need to have “total and complete surrender” in order to be successful.
The second element that is important is the actual help that the alcoholic or addict receives, hopefully in the form of professional treatment services. My recommendation is always for the person to seek out an inpatient treatment center. If you do not know how to go about doing this then simply pick up the phone and call a rehab center and start asking them questions. If that rehab center cannot help you directly then they can likely direct you to the people who can help you.
For example, you may call a rehab center and find out that they do not take your particular health insurance, so they would typically refer you to another agency that can then link you up with the resources that you need based on your kind of insurance. There is no need to pretend that no one will help you; simply start making phone calls and ask people questions and they will direct you to the resources that you need. When in doubt, simply call a rehab and ask them how you can get the help that you need. They should be able to guide you from there and at least get you pointed in the right direction (or speaking to the right people).
Now once you have made the decision that you want to change your life “for real,” and you have called a treatment center and figured out how to get yourself into some sort of inpatient treatment, your next step is to simply go check in to rehab at the appointed time. It takes a lot of courage to go to rehab, but once you are there you will find that it is really, really easy to be in treatment. It is easy because they make it easy, and you will also have a group of peers in rehab with you who are all willing to support you in your struggle to find recovery.
This is the turning point of your life if you want it to be. I went to inpatient treatment over 17 years ago and that was definitely the major turning point in my life. Going to inpatient rehab was what ultimately allowed me to set a new course in my life, one that did not end in jail or an early death due to serious alcoholism or drug addiction.
Instead, I was able to turn my life around because I stayed in a 28 day facility. This gave me an opportunity to give my life a “full reset” in terms of both avoiding drug and alcohol use, but also in terms of relationships and personal growth. It turns out that having this massive “life reset” by going to inpatient treatment was vitally important to my progress in early recovery.
After I went to inpatient treatment I was referred to a number of programs and services to help me with aftercare. This was really important because if I had just left rehab and went back to my old environment I fear that I would have relapsed quickly. Instead, I ended up going to a long term program, counseling, countless AA and NA meetings, and group therapy. I dove head first into those recommendations for me and I took them all very seriously. It was my dedication to follow through with aftercare that allowed me to succeed in early recovery.
I noticed that this was the case because so many of my peers were relapsing during that first year of recovery, while I was “making it.” I constantly questioned myself and feared that I would relapse as well, and I wanted to avoid that outcome if I could. So I kept pushing myself to follow through, to seek positive change, to seek personal growth. Meanwhile, I noticed that the peers of mine who had relapsed often did so because they stopped doing what they were supposed to be doing–namely, going to meetings, therapy, and aftercare appointments.
The people who surrendered completely were the people who were willing to follow through and actually follow all of their aftercare recommendations. The people who relapsed were those who did not surrender fully, and therefore they did not commit to follow through.
Addiction recovery is really all about habit change. You are trading in an old set of unhealthy habits for a new set of more positive habits. So you have to establish these new routines and use the new, healthy habits in order to replace your old behaviors.
This is really difficult to do on the fly without some sort of defining “reset” mechanism. That reset mechanism that most easily fills this gap is inpatient treatment. Going to rehab for 28 days gives you a solid month to practice navigating your life without resorting to drugs or alcohol. When you leave inpatient treatment you are faced with the challenge of learning how to cope and deal with reality in a way that does not lead you back to your drug of choice.
For every problem that you encounter in early recovery there are two possible choices: One, you can relapse. Two, you can find a new solution for that problem.
Those are the only options that the recovering addict or alcoholic is facing: Relapase, or new solutions.
Finding new solutions takes real effort. And it can be scary. We often have to make ourselves a bit vulnerable in order to learn a new solution in life. We may have to humble ourselves in order to learn how to cope in a healthy way.
Your life is defined by your experiences, and in recovery you need to be in the mindset of finding new solutions. If you can train yourself to be optimistic and to look for the healthy solution in every situation then you can do well in recovery. Failure to embrace a growth mindset will likely result in relapse. Good luck on your journey!