Have you had enough of stumbling around in a drug-induced fog? Are you fed up with letting everyone you care about down as a result of your addiction? Do you feel like now is the time to either put up or shut up and do something positive to change your life?
Maybe the time is right for you to consider drug rehab, the prelude to your complete do-over.
Before a knee-jerk reaction prompts you to jump up and exclaim, “Yes, I’m all for it,” first take some time to think about what it is that you’re about to do.
- You’re making a decision to go into treatment for drug abuse or addiction.
- You will need to change your lifestyle, letting go of self-destructive behaviors.
- There is no certainty that rehab will work – the first time around.
- Giving up drugs and alcohol may be the hardest thing you’ve ever attempted to do.
- You can’t just quit because the going gets tough – although you’ll be tempted to when you run up against an obstacle or something too painful that you want to keep buried.
- You will need to be honest and do the work in rehab. There are no short-cuts to getting clean and sober.
- You will need to adjust your mind-set, giving up the tendency you’ve had for so long to just take the easy way out, using drugs and alcohol as a way to forget, to numb the pain, to blot out your sense of responsibility.
- You may not like the process of getting clean, or of participating in group therapy. You may believe that this is beneath you or that you can do it on your own. You can’t.
- You have to get over the idea that you can just clean up for a while and later return to your former drug-using ways. This isn’t a spa vacation where you shed a few pounds and then resume your bad habits. Rehab is a commitment you make. If you’re not ready to do it, you won’t get much out of treatment.
- You will meet many new people, individuals from every walk of life. You will come to realize that there is no typical addict. Addiction is an equal-opportunity disease. In this respect, it strikes rich and poor, young and old, men and women, beggars and kings. You will likely meet people who are just like you, ordinary people who have gotten stuck in addiction and now want to make a new life for themselves in recovery.
These are hard and sober realities, but they are what you need to think seriously about when you’re mulling the decision to enter drug rehab. Here are some other points to consider.
Where You Go Matters
When you’re contemplating drug rehab, it makes a great deal of difference where you go for the treatment. You may believe that going to an exotic location for rehab will be more conducive to it “sticking,” but the fact is that what’s more important than location is that the treatment facility specializes in treating your type of addiction.
For example, you wouldn’t choose a rehab facility whose specialty was treatment for gambling addiction when your problem is opioid addiction, possibly combined with alcohol abuse. You wouldn’t sign up for rehab in a center that is well-known for treating people with sexual compulsions if what you really need is help overcoming prescription drug abuse and an eating disorder.
It isn’t that there’s anything wrong with specialty treatment facilities. In fact, they are more than likely the leaders in the field in those specific areas. It’s just that you require treatment that is tailored to your specific needs, including the type and duration of your addiction, your overall physical and mental health, whether you have a single addiction, multiple addictions, or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder.
You want the best possible outcome for your stay in rehab. Therefore, it is up to you to do the research to find the rehab facility or center that can offer you the latest treatment protocols and therapies for your particular addiction.
Finding treatment facilities is a lot easier by using the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator, maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). There you can find drug rehab facilities by state, city, county, zip code or by name. You can also call the Substance Abuse Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
How to Prepare for Drug Rehab
Suppose you have absolutely decided that now is the time for you to go in for treatment and you’ve selected a few rehab facilities that you are interested in. What should you do to prepare for rehab?
You’ve got your list of facilities. Now you need to research them thoroughly to find out which one best meets your needs. There is the whole issue of cost of treatment, which is not an insignificant consideration. Does your health insurance policy cover this facility? What portion does it cover – all, most, part, or none? Does the facility have a sliding-fee scale or offer payment assistance? Are there state or local agencies that may be able to help?
What does the facility look like? You should be able to do much of your research online, but at some point, you’ll probably want to make an appointment to actually visit the premises. You will be in rehab for a certain period of time, going through detox, learning about the disease of addiction, learning and practicing coping skills, interacting with therapists in one-on-one counseling and participating in group therapy, among other things. You want to feel as comfortable as you can in the facility. Although it is not home, it will serve as your home away from home while you are in rehab.
Tidying up things for while you are in treatment is also something you’ll likely want to do. Most people who enter rehab don’t just walk off the job for 30 days or longer with no prior warning – not if they hope to have a job to come back to. You need to make preparations, to the extent that you can, to have someone cover your responsibilities while you are gone. If nothing else, discuss with your boss or supervisor what is necessary, telling him or her that you are going to treatment and expect to be gone X-amount of time. In some cases, going into rehab may be strongly recommended by your employer. Some individuals are ordered into treatment by the courts.
There’s also what to do about your situation at home. If you are a mother with small children to tend to, you may need to enlist the help of neighbors or other family members or even hire a nanny or housekeeper. Your spouse, if you are married, may be able to take up some of the slack, but there are many, many things that you know need to be done that probably won’t get done the same way. Make lists. Talk with whoever will be temporarily assuming your responsibilities to give them as much guidance as you can.
Maybe you’ve just been hanging on by a thread and don’t have the presence of mind to be this organized. You had help from your family or friends to get into a treatment facility and it’s all you can do just to walk through the door. Your arrival in rehab may be the result of your agreeing to accept treatment after a formal intervention. In this situation, the most important thing for you to do is to just go with it. Life will go on without you back at home, work, or school. What’s critical for you is to get clean and learn how to overcome your addiction.
Drug Rehab – What to Expect
It is a huge leap of faith, going into drug rehab, especially if this is going to be your first time getting clean. It can be scary, but it isn’t all that bad, really. Your imagination probably makes it seem worse that it will actually turn out to be.
Much of your fear likely has to do with the times you tried to go cold turkey on your own. That was probably enough to make you vow never to do that again. But getting toxic substances out of your system in rehab means you are monitored 24/7 by medical professionals who do everything possible to ensure that your detox is safe and that you are as comfortable as possible in the process.
You won’t be writhing in agony. There are medications that can be prescribed to help minimize or eliminate the worst part of withdrawal symptoms and later, to help keep cravings and urges at bay. No, it won’t be totally free of discomfort, but it will be something that you can get through.
The good news is that detox is over in a relatively short period of time. From there, depending on the specifics of your individually tailored drug rehab program, you will be assigned to a specific therapist or counselor and will begin regular therapy sessions. You will also be part of group discussions and therapy, have various other types of therapeutic sessions, participate in lectures, educational seminars, read recovery literature, and have time for recreational and leisure activities.
Expect your days to be fairly structured. Actually, structure and routine are exactly what you need right now. Before you can begin to make wise decisions about everyday problems when you return home, you need to build a solid foundation in recovery. Rehab is an essential first part of your overall recovery journey.
While it may seem strange and unfamiliar when you first go into drug rehab, the point to keep in mind is that this experience is an opportunity for you to really get a handle on learning how to live free of drugs. This is just the beginning of a life in sobriety, but it is an all-important preparation. You can’t live in recovery without first getting clean.
Quelling the Desire to Leave
Not everyone is going to sail through drug rehab without having some difficulty getting adjusted to the structured and monitored environment. You may find yourself counting the days, and that’s fine as long as you aren’t trying to deliberately sabotage your treatment regimen by not paying attention, avoiding doing the work, remaining isolated, defiant, angry or afraid.
There is no question that powerful emotions can and do play out in rehab. After all, once the numbing drugs leave your body, you’re left feeling raw and vulnerable. This is a different kind of feeling, and it’s not one you’re probably used to. For many in rehab, feeling anything at all is a new experience.
Right up front, be assured that if you experience strong and troubling emotions that won’t go away, don’t keep it to yourself. Immediately bring it up with your therapist so that something can be done to help you get past this transition period. If what’s bothering you is more deep-seated, therapy can help you begin to address the issues and you and your therapist can work together to come up with a way for you to manage such difficulties.
Sometimes people are so thrown by the whole drug rehab scene, the associated regimens and schedules, constant monitoring, being in the presence of others who may be rather intensely vocal or inquisitive, that they decide treatment isn’t for them and they just leave. Or they express the desire to go home early, saying that they’ve gotten clean and know enough to take care of themselves from here on out.
Be advised that this is a trap, a delusion, a little lie that you tell yourself just so you can escape the tough parts of learning how to overcome addiction. Those who quit rehab right after detox are no more ready to re-enter the real world than an infant get jump up and skate. They’re going to fall down rather quickly.
Those group sessions that you sit through are necessary so that you can begin to practice coping skills and techniques you’ll need when you complete treatment. It is a safe and nonthreatening environment in which you can try out healthier behaviors before it comes time to use them back home, at work and at school.
In short, you may desperately want to leave, but stifle the desire to do so. Remind yourself why you chose to go into drug rehab in the first place. The period of time that you spend in rehab is short in comparison to the rest of your life. Resolve to stick it out and look forward to the successful completion of your treatment time.
Going Home to a New You
When the final day of rehab dawns, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. It should be a time of grateful appreciation, for you have come through an ordeal, a cleansing and learning experience that, for all the benefit it you have derived from it, is unlike anything you have ever known.
Many describe the feeling as a heady experience, like being reborn, washed clean. It is a fresh start, an opportunity for a do-over in life. Where you go from here remains a path that you will choose. You will undoubtedly enter the recovery community and begin to participate in 12-step group meetings, as you have begun during rehab.
The strength of your support network will help you immensely as you navigate your new life in sobriety. Where you have questions, there are group members, your sponsor (who you should get at your earliest opportunity), your supportive family members and close friends, who have answers – or will assist you in finding them. When you need companionship, the members of your support network are always there for you.
You will never be alone in recovery. This is a given and it should be of great comfort to you as you begin this new and exciting phase of your life.