Drug rehab may be the last thing on your mind when it actually comes time to face the music and do something about your addiction. In fact, most people entering into treatment would probably say they’d rather be anywhere else in the world rather than going into rehab. Even a trip to the dentist would be less painful. So, it must be a wonder, indeed, that anyone does come to the decision and then follow through with the very necessary first step of walking through the door and saying, “Here I am. I want help to beat this.” Okay, those likely aren’t your exact words, but the concept is the same. You want help to overcome your addiction. You recognize that you can’t do it on your own. You are here and want to get started. But how will you actually be able to make it through drug rehab? Is there some simple strategy you can follow that will increase your chances of success? In a word, yes, but the longer answer takes a bit of getting to. The Long Road to Get Here This is, believe it or not, the toughest part of the whole process. How can this be, you may well ask? How can just walking into drug rehab be the worst part? What about detoxing and dredging up the past and all the other things you’ve heard about and formed mistaken impressions about? Consider the facts. Your life up to now has been a series of ill-informed and self-destructive decisions. You certainly haven’t been the best judge of what’s best for you or, if you did have some inkling, you quickly squelched it as you downed that liquid substance, popped that pill, snorted a line or mainlined a narcotic. Maybe you emerged from your haze one day to look around you and you really didn’t like what you saw. Your friends were gone. Your family deserted you or wouldn’t have anything to do with you. You may have lost your job, burned through all your money and that of anyone else’s you got your hands on. Your health went down the tubes, you couldn’t sleep, forgot or lost interest in eating, and couldn’t remember what you did yesterday, let alone what you’re supposed to be doing today. Who in the world is that haggard, gaunt individual staring back at you from the mirror? How could you let yourself go this way? When did it happen? Didn’t it seem as if you were on top of the world just a short time ago? At least, didn’t you convince yourself that you were? Whatever caused you to pull yourself up and take a good, long look at the reality your life has become is uniquely your story. What it specifically was, whether it was your spouse or loved one walking out, getting fired, injuring or killing someone as a result of drunk driving, is the catalyst that brought you to this point. While it may have been very painful or has long-lasting negative consequences, the fact that you now are willing to accept treatment is the turning point that can make a tremendous difference in the rest of your life. First Things First: What to Tell Your Busy, Busy Mind Following a simple strategy is a whole lot easier if you start off with the proper mindset. For now, don’t worry too much about what’s all going to happen or what you’re missing out on being here or any of a million other thoughts racing around inside your head. What you need to do right off the bat is to calm your busy, busy mind and allow yourself to concentrate on your surroundings in drug rehab. This won’t be all that easy to do, mind you, but it does help to put everything in perspective. Think about this as the first room in a multi-room mansion, or as the first step on a long and winding pathway. You can’t see up ahead and you don’t really know what’s in those rooms. You need to be able to take it on faith that this will be good for you, that it’s something you want, and that you will find the strength and courage to make it through. That sounds fairly easy, right? After all, who doesn’t want the best for themselves? Well, when you’re coming from a deficit background, as in, clouded thinking and a slew of bad decisions due to your addiction, you may not fully believe that being clean and sober is all that it’s made out to be. You may, indeed, have some serious misgivings. If so, you’re not alone. At one point or another, pretty much everyone entering drug rehab thinks along those lines. They may scheme to get hold of drugs while they’re supposed to be weaning off them or they may construct elaborate plans for how to take care of their cravings the very minute they leave. Some may even quit rehab. This is just your busy, busy mind pestering you with old and outdated thoughts. Tell yourself that this is a new beginning, your chance to start over and get it right. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt but definitely plant the seed and nurture it generously that you are doing yourself the best possible favor: you are going to get clean and learn how to stay that way. You don’t have to sound like a raving maniac. You don’t even have to say this out loud. In fact, it’s probably better if you keep it to yourself and simply engage in some thoughtful self-introspection. You might even wish to write some things down. Your thoughts coming into drug rehab and all the way through treatment can be invaluable to you later. You’ll soon see why. However you convince yourself that this is time well-spent, do it. The way you begin to adjust your thinking to one of proactive decision-making and hope for the future will take time to play out, but it all begins right here and right now. A Time and a Place for Everything If you’re like many individuals entering drug rehab, especially for the first time, you find yourself confused and more than a little disconcerted about the schedule you’re going to need to keep, what kinds of therapy and counseling and group meetings you’ll be involved in. Be assured that you will be informed every step of the way what your treatment consists of, and you will be actively involved in helping ensure that you’re getting the right kind of treatment or therapy based on your particular needs. If you don’t speak up, no one will really know, so keep that in mind when your therapist or counselor asks for your feedback on how well things are going or whether or not you feel that something is working for you. What you will find fairly quickly is that drug rehab runs on a finely-tuned schedule. Don’t let the word schedule freak you out, though, since everyone needs a schedule to keep them from veering off in irrelevant directions or pursuing less-than-effective endeavors. It’s no different in rehab. The schedule will likely consist of a series of one-on-one counseling sessions, group therapy, and various other types of therapies, educational lectures, readings, recreational and leisure time activities, 12-step group meetings and more. You will learn what the times and responsibilities are and will soon adjust to the rhythm of your surroundings. For some individuals in drug rehab, the idea of a schedule is enough to cause them to want to run out the door. Who wants to be confined, told what to do, monitored and evaluated, anyway? For one thing, people who seriously want to overcome their addiction, that’s who. And, let’s be clear. You aren’t being confined. You are in treatment. You’re the one who agreed to come here. If you really are adamant about it, you can walk out the door. But guess what will be the result of that? You’ll be right back where you started: addicted, self-destructive, and going nowhere. Try to align yourself to the schedule that’s been prepared for you, again, based on your unique and specific treatment needs. If there’s something you feel is missing, bring it up with your counselor, the one that’s been assigned to you. You are the one who’s here to get clean and sober and learn the basics of the disease of addiction, how to cope with cravings and triggers, how to communicate more effectively, how to get past painful memories or trauma in your past. It’s really up to you how well you’ll succeed. There really is a time and place for everything. Keep it simple. In your mind, realize that this is the time and the place for you to begin to heal. It really isn’t any more complicated than that. The World Will Still Be Out There While we’re on the subject of time and place, here’s another basic concept to keep front and center: The world will still be out there when you complete treatment. You aren’t missing out on a single thing. And it really doesn’t matter if you believe your job is in jeopardy or you’re worried that your kids will feel abandoned. You probably won’t and they most likely don’t feel that way. It’s the kind of irrational fear that we allow ourselves to give into that causes us distress during the first phase of drug rehab. It’s also largely a result of addictive substances still in our bodies. It takes time to rid ourselves of the tremendously self-sabotaging behaviors and thoughts we’ve built up over the past weeks and months and years. How do you get through drug rehab without going crazy with worry about what’s going on at home, on the job, with your friends, with your finances? Quite simply, you tell yourself that the people that matter and care the most about you have your back. They want you to get better so that you can re-enter society and resume your normal life with a healthier outlook and a new set of coping skills. That should make it feel a little less stressful. Look on the bright side. You’re already here, you’re already committed. You might as well give it all you’ve got. The world will still be out there when it comes time to bid treatment good-bye when you’ve completed it. Dealing with Loneliness and Other Emotions As the drugs and toxic substances leave your body and your mind begins to clear, perhaps for the first time in a very long time, you may begin to experience a flood of emotions. Some of these emotions may make you feel a loss of control. You may feel lonely, abandoned, afraid or vulnerable. While it is normal to experience a variety of often-conflicting emotions, it doesn’t make it any easier to endure when it is happening to you. How do you deal with this? The simplest strategy is to recognize what’s happening and cut yourself some slack. You are learning about the disease of addiction and how drugs and alcohol hijack your brain and send you false signals all over the place. This also involves your emotions. How could it be anything else when your senses were dulled to reality, pain blotted out, perceptions skewed by what you used? Talk with your therapist about these conflicting and disturbing emotions and, really, about anything that troubles you as you continue your treatment. There isn’t anything unusual about this happening, as it happens to every person in rehab to one degree or another. Some have a harder time adjusting to being clean and sober than others. But everyone has issues to deal with, emotions to contend with, and a personal path of recovery to begin. While we’re on the subject of intense emotions, it’s important to touch on the emotion of anger. You may find that you really don’t like certain aspects of drug rehab, especially the part where you examine your past and talk about how you got into doing drugs or alcohol, and your feelings, particularly painful ones. You may find yourself getting angry, lashing out with harsh words, refusing to take part in therapy, dismissing others in group sessions with cruel or insensitive words. This is not productive at all, not for you or for others around you. True, you may be angry and it’s likely at yourself. You may not yet know how to deal with the circumstances in your life, even though they’re largely of your own making, and, consequently your only reaction is to act out. What you do in this situation will form the basis for either your continued healing or a blockage that you can’t get past. What should you do? Ask for help from your therapist. At the very least, hold back your tongue and count to 10 before you say something you may regret. After all, everyone here in drug rehab is trying to assist you to getting your life back together. You will come to learn how to deal with emotions like loneliness and other intense feelings. Comfort yourself with the knowledge that you are getting stronger each day. This means you are learning how to take better care of yourself. This means you are healing, and that’s a very good thing. Be Like a Sponge and Soak Up Learning Something that many people don’t realize when they come into drug rehab is that they have a unique opportunity to learn that others outside of treatment may not be able to experience, certainly not in the same way. That’s because in drug rehab, everything is concentrated on one goal: you getting better. There’s no diffusion of effort going into taking care of work assignments, getting the kids off to school, working on household projects, or any of the multitude of other tasks, activities, responsibilities and pursuits that occupy you in the outside world. Here you are focused on your recovery. It’s all that should matter to you right now. And during this unique and special time you have a wealth of learning that’s just waiting for you to discover it. There are experts here in all kinds of fields, ready to assist you to uncover that inner ability, unleash your creativity, motivate your spirit, and jumpstart your recovery. You will need tools to be able to effectively maintain your sobriety once you return home, go back to work or school and rejoin your community. Drug rehab is where you learn those tools. It’s also a safe environment to begin practicing the coping strategies and techniques that will help you be able to effectively deal with cravings and urges, with nightmares and inability to sleep, with how to begin mending fractured relationships, and with picking up the pieces of your life. The best tip is to be like a sponge and soak up all the learning you can while you are here in drug rehab. There’s simply no better time than right now, especially since you are here to get better. Let’s recap the simple strategy for how to get through drug rehab:
- You’ve come down a long road to get here and that was the toughest part. But now that you’re here, it’s time to get serious about healing.
- Quiet your busy mind and focus on why you’re here: to heal.
- Get comfortable with schedules, for having a schedule will help you get your life back in order.
- Stop worrying about what’s going on in the outside world. It will still be there when you’re ready to return after completing treatment. For now, concentrate on healing.
- Be prepared to experience some intense emotions. Everyone does, and working through them with your therapist will prove beneficial to your recovery.
- This is an excellent opportunity to learn. Use your time to soak up as much knowledge as possible. There’s no better time or place than here and now in drug rehab.
Finally, congratulations! Now that you’ve made the incredibly tough decision and taken the proactive step to enter drug rehab, you’re on an upward trajectory to healing. Be patient and loving with yourself and you will get through drug rehab just fine.