Getting help for a substance use or mental health disorder is a gift you give yourself or someone you love – a chance to step away from stress and triggers, uncover what’s prompting your struggles and develop the skills to overcome it. The steps you take from here can go a long way toward ensuring your success. Here are five suggestions for getting the most from your treatment experience:
#1 Be Open to Experimenting with Different Therapies
Effective treatment is not one size fits all. What works for someone else may not work for you. That’s why we offer a variety of traditional and alternative therapies that allows you to mix and match until you arrive at the combination that suits you best.
Try to keep an open mind about what therapies are right for you. Meditation is one example of an approach that sometimes seems odd at first – it can look a lot like sitting, after all – but multiple studies have confirmed its ability to help lower stress, calm thoughts and process feelings. Take advantage of all the techniques available to you, and you may discover help where you least expect it.
#2 Be Willing to Share
An important part of the treatment experience involves sharing your feelings and your stories in individual, family and group therapy. This openness can seem awkward at first, but allowing truths to be spoken is an important step toward healing – and that applies not only to the speaker but to those hearing the words as well.
By sharing experiences, each participant in the group learns that they are not alone. They may be traveling a difficult path but others are traveling it with them, creating a sense of community that makes the journey easier and success more certain.
#3 Think Positive
An important contributor to a positive treatment experience is your attitude. As positive psychology has shown us, those who expect good things are much more likely to find them.
This type of optimism may not come naturally to you, but it can be learned by challenging the negative self-talk we all hear in our heads. This will become an important part of your treatment process, but why not start right now? Rather than thinking of all the ways in which you might stumble, imagine yourself successfully completing treatment and returning to health and happiness – the more detail the better. This technique, called prospection, awakens the brain to possibility and can be a powerful spur to motivation. A future goal becomes worth working toward because you have, in a sense, already experienced how wonderful it will be to reach it.
#4 Expect Some Uncertainty
With the encouragement to think positive comes the caveat that you will experience moments of frustration and doubt during treatment. It’s part of the process.
The good news is that this doesn’t mean that your chances of a full recovery are any less. In fact, studies show that even those who enter treatment unwillingly – those remanded by the courts, for example – are just as likely to recover successfully as those who are willing participants. That’s because once in a program, participants start to learn what underlies their problem and to realize that there are solutions, no matter how dire their situation may seem.
If feeling discouraged, remember this fact: An estimated 23 million people are successfully living in recovery in the U.S. You can be one of them.
#5 Take Things One Step at a Time
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed early on in treatment, but if you focus on the step in front of you, and then the next, and the next, those steps will eventually become your path to recovery.
Keep this thought in mind: Recovery is not a destination, it’s on ongoing journey. Treatment is not about getting fixed and being sent home. Instead, it’s a way to learn the skills you need to stay on that path, no matter the challenges, and discover the life you deserve.