The Process of Getting Clean and Sober at a Residential Treatment Center

The Process of Getting Clean and Sober at a Residential Treatment Center


Getting clean and sober at a residential treatment center is not necessarily as straightforward as what the world would like to imagine the process to be.  What is the problem?

The problem is that everyone thinks that a trip to rehab should essentially “cure” someone, or at least cure them to some degree.  This is understandable that we should think this way,  because this is how much of our lives work.  So many things that we deal with and problems that we face can have a lot of compromise in the solution, and we may make some progress here and there but slide back and forth a bit, and so on.  Life is mostly like that.  You put in some effort, you get some results.

Recovery from addiction and alcoholism does not work like that at all. If you put in a small effort, or a normal effort, or even a fairly modest effort, you will relapse and lose everything. There is no in-between with recovery from addiction.  You are either all sober, or all drunk.  There is no moderation.  The very definition of an addict or an alcoholic is that they cannot moderate their use.  Period.  If they can moderate, then they have no business defining themselves as an addict or alcoholic.  They are not.  This is what defines addiction, and this is what makes the only workable solution start with abstinence.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Kevin Cortopassi

So residential treatment centers attempt to help addicts and alcoholics by starting with the premise of total abstinence from all mood and mind altering drugs, including alcohol. They then will generally try to give addicts the tools that they need in order to manage their life without resorting to chemicals to self medicate with.  This can involve a number of different strategies, from 12 step programs to relapse prevention techniques to group therapy to one on one counseling.

But one of the big keys is that this stuff is not going to cure someone just by doing it once, or even by doing it for six months straight.  Recovery is a life long process and that is not just a tired cliche.  It is the truth.  If you only work on this new life in recovery for a few years then you will end up relapsing.  It takes much more concentrated and sustained effort than what most people give it credit for.  There is no short term “cure” for addiction.  The level of action and commitment and dedication to pursue long term sobriety is akin to an obese person who is losing weight and managing to keep it off in the long run.  It takes real change.  That is what must be inspired from a drug treatment center.