The decision to enroll in a rehabilitation treatment program is one that requires strength, courage, and commitment to put in the work required to make true change in your life. It’s a choice that can be daunting, and there are some people who can’t go through with it. However, opting for rehabilitation and recovery can have positive repercussions in all areas of your life—it can be transforming. Your chances of meeting your sobriety goals may be increased, if you know what to expect once you enter rehabilitation and are prepared for what’s to come.
“Preparation-wise, the best thing you can do is try to go in with an open mind. It won’t work otherwise,” says Joshua Shea, an author and recovering addict who writes and speaks on the topic of addiction. “You need to be open to ideas and possibilities that you not only have never considered, but you vehemently denied.”
What to Know Before You Go to Rehabilitation
What are some things to keep in mind before enrolling in rehabilitation? Here are some helpful words of wisdom.
- Pack wisely
You don’t need much when you check into a rehabilitation treatment facility. Shea recommends bringing comfortable clothes. You’re not in a professional environment, and the focus should be on your well-being, not on your appearance. Your treatment facility should provide a list of necessary things to bring, including a list of items you must leave at home. You should also prepare for your bags to be searched for any contraband.
- Understand the program’s structure
Generally, rehabilitation can be roughly segmented into three phases. The first one will involve detoxing and getting to the root of your issues—what Shea describes as a breaking-down process. But you are built up again during the second phase, when you figure out how your life fits together and you work towards discovering your essential truths. These are the “a ha” moments that form the foundation for the final stage of treatment—maintaining and living a healthier, cleaner life, Shea says.
- Share what you are truly feeling
Entering rehabilitation can spur a wave of deep, conflicting emotions and you shouldn’t keep them bottled up inside. “If I could have done it all over again, I would have prepared myself to go to treatment by being more honest with those around me about how isolated I felt, even when I was in a room full of those that said they loved me,” says Barbara Caskey, a recovering addict for 17 years and a behavioral health specialist at Vitality Unlimited, a Nevada-based nonprofit community service agency.
- Rehabilitation fosters a unique environment
Even though everyone is there for the same shared goal of reaching sobriety, people in rehab come from many different walks of life. You will meet people you will bond with immediately, and you’ll meet others you normally wouldn’t associate with in daily life. It may also take you time to feel comfortable enough to interact with others, especially during the early stages of treatment. It is an intense living situation that Shea likens to a foxhole.
He also cautions that friendships formed while in rehabilitation may not continue on the outside after treatment is over. Once you leave the confines of the rehabilitation facility and go back to your daily life, your circumstances will be very different from spending a lot of time with someone in close quarters. Don’t put pressure on yourself with high expectations of maintaining those bonds, especially if it takes focus and energy away from your sobriety.
- Resist the temptation to leave
Rehabilitation for addiction isn’t always an easy path, but the rewards come at the end, when you are ready to live a healthy life in recovery. To get to that point, however, you have to stick with the treatment program, even when it feels too tough to go on and you think it would just be easier to quit and go back to your old life. “No matter what, stay,” Caskey says. “Find the strength or the courage to stay and begin to listen to the words that ring true and are kind but helpful. Allow for the tears to fall to make room for the laughter that will follow.”
- Be prepared to change your life
Enrolling in an addiction rehabilitation program is a brave choice, one that can empower you to live the healthiest life possible. A qualified treatment facility can help you not only during the important stage of detoxification, but also by giving you the tools and insight you need to make lasting, meaningful change that will help you on the road to sobriety. It is not a decision to be made lightly, but one that you should give much consideration to, with full awareness of what may happen during treatment.
Knowledge is power. Knowing what is in store for you during rehabilitation can give you the power and strength to make it through the hard moments and find the determination to dig deep and change your life for the better.