Let’s face it —even for those who go willingly, outpatient and inpatient
rehab can be a scary, confusing, and uncertain time in life. It’s unsettling to feel vulnerable, open, and exposed. Coming off of drugs or alcohol is not always a pleasant experience,
But while in rehab we have to remind ourselves that it is through feeling this way that the healing happens.
Like reminding yourself of this, there are other qualities and mindsets that are helpful when it comes to making the most of your stay in rehab. The following are just a few of them.
Have An Open Mind
If you’ve made up your mind about rehab before you even begin, you are not leaving yourself much room to grow or learn. I made this mistake when I entered rehab. I didn’t want to go in the first place, so before walking in the doors, I decided that it was going to be meaningless and a waste of my time. Because I had this attitude for the first month of my time in rehab, I missed out on many opportunities. I didn’t engage with others in group and didn’t participate when it was asked of me. Attitude matters when it comes to treatment.
According to UK Addiction Treatment Centres
, “It is clear that the attitude a patient takes when entering rehab is one of the single most important factors determining whether that person will permanently get well. The best treatment in the world cannot do much for someone who does not want to get better and will not commit to abstinence.” Over time my attitude began to change. It was once I began to open my mind that I found myself relating to what was being said in group and realized that yes, I was an alcoholic and needed to be in a treatment facility. Having a closed mind left me in denial for much longer than needed to be the case, and that is something I regret to this day.
Connect With Others
Most often in treatment centers, you are surrounded by peers in the same position as yourself. However, people like myself sometimes make the mistake of thinking no one else could possibly know what we are going through, so we refuse to give them a chance. I spent quite a while feeling this way while in treatment. I hate to admit it, but I stuck my nose in the air because I thought I was better than everyone else in the facility. I didn’t want to forge connections or to hear other people’s stories, because I only cared about myself and my feelings.
Once I opened myself up to making connections, I found that I could relate to so many people in the program, and vice versa. Even though we all came from different walks of life, we had addiction in common. That was enough to build a relationship off of. It was through peer support and guidance that I built up enough faith in myself to remain sober even after leaving the treatment facility.
Take Care Of Every Aspect Of Your Health
When you stop using drugs or drinking alcohol, it may feel as if you took a step forward in taking care of yourself by preventing future health issues as a result of addiction
. That’s because you did help yourself, and it is a rewarding feeling. However, it is also important to focus on other aspects of your health, such as physical and mental health. I found that right after I got sober, working out provided a release and an outlet I needed at the time. It also made me feel like I could control something, and that I was doing something to better my life.
The same went for my mental health. It’s no secret that often those who drink and use drugs also suffer from underlying issues such as depression
and anxiety. It is as important to address these in sobriety as it is to stop using drugs or alcohol. It is only through addressing all aspects of your health and well-being that you can truly take the lessons gained in rehab and apply them to a healthy life outside of treatment. According to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
, “The process of recovery is highly personal and occurs via many pathways. It may include clinical treatment, medications, faith-based approaches, peer support, family support, self-care, and other approaches. Recovery is characterized by continual growth and improvement in one’s health and wellness that may involve setbacks. Because setbacks are a natural part of life, resilience becomes a key component of recovery.”
Take Lessons From Rehab Into The Real World
While in treatment, it is easy to feel safe and secure in your recovery. It is once you leave treatment that reality sets in and the hard part of recovery really begins. When you are not surrounded by peers and addiction professionals, it may feel as if it is harder to maintain sobriety. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. When I finished treatment, I made sure to maintain relationships I had formed there. I also focused on repeating what I had learned there and using the tools I was given. This included reminding myself to avoid people and places that could be triggering for me, but also making sure to keep advice I’d been given in the forefront of my mind. I reminded myself often that just because I was an alcoholic, that did not mean my life was over. In fact, getting sober meant my life was beginning.
As previously stated, rehab can be scary. But it can also be successful and lead to a happy, full, substance-free life, as long as you enter treatment ready and willing.
Recovery and Recovery Support. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Accessed 27 October 2016. http://www.samhsa.gov/recovery
The Undeniable Importance of Attitude in Drug Rehab. UK Addiction Treatment Centres. Accessed 27 October 2016. http://www.ukat.co.uk/drug-rehab/undeniable-importance-attitude-drug-rehab/
Written by: Beth Leipholtz
Beth is a newspaper reporter and graphic designer from Minnesota who writes about the realities of getting sober young. Follow her on Twitter.