Many people hold a preconceived opinion about rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. Some of us think it’s where you only go if you have expended all other options, your family stops talking to you, you become homeless, or can’t seem to stay functional anymore with your continued use of drugs or alcohol. Other people think it’s some sort of “scam”: where groups of substance-abusing men or women go to be temporarily surrounded by a bunch of doctors, then talk about feelings, hold hands, and pretend everything is going to be okay. Sometimes there is a fearful view of rehab: How am I going to throw away everything I’ve ever known? Who will be there for me when I get out of rehab? What if I put in all the effort, spend all this money, and end up failing at staying sober?
There are all types of questions, excuses, fears, and potential outcomes when it comes to this whole “rehab” and recovery world. Why rehab seems to work for some and not for others remains a topic of question. However, rehab is most definitely a much-needed method of taking on recovery.
The Fear of Rehab and Recovery
A common situation that happens with drug addicts is the fear of recovery. Not only do people get to the point where they feel powerless over their drug or alcohol abuse, but they may also feel extremely powerless as to when to know how to stop.
Imagine a long-term, heavy cocaine user who wants to get clean– let’s call him Tom. He starts going to NA meetings seeking any form of outlet and understanding to his addiction. Tom wants to stop but doesn’t quite believe he’s ready for rehab. He is fairly high-functioning, meaning he can still go to work, pretend to be “normal” around his family, and for the most part avoids criminal activity at all costs. Tom’s a nice guy, but he just can’t seem to commit to actually quitting his drug use habits. Someone at the NA support group suggests he enrolls in an inpatient rehab, to kickstart a new sober lifestyle. Tom can’t seem to agree to that idea, though. Deep down, he feels like he doesn’t really need rehab. He thinks he might be able to quit on his own when the time is “finally right”.
Tom’s situation is one of the fear and doubt of recovery. Maybe he doesn’t think the time is right (but then when will it ever be good timing?). Or maybe he’s really afraid that he’ll try to get sober, only to relapse. Perhaps he’s not truly willing to put in the work that it takes to begin the recovery process. Deep down, the desire is there, but there’s not quite enough drive or a personal mindset that a successful recovery is even possible.
It can be confusing, but this phase of doubt affects many addicts. Sure, there are plenty of people who simply don’t care to get sober, but most addicts don’t like being addicted to drugs and remain on the fence between two decisions.
When is it Time to Go into Rehab?
The short answer for “when is it time for rehab?” is simply: Now. The sooner a drug or alcohol dependent person commits to going through rehab, the better. However, it’s important to note that rehab is no guaranteed “quick fix” for recovery! The individual experiencing recovery through rehab is the one responsible for using the help, guidance, and life skills learned within the rehab facility in order to improve his or her life for the long run.
Entering into an inpatient or residential rehab is a huge step forward. It’s a chance to completely leave behind the comforts, habits, and vices of former daily life, in exchange for a new routine, a drug-free living environment, and a full-throttle confrontation of your own inner conflicts and root issues where addiction stems from.
A more in-depth answer to this question is found underneath not a matter of “when” but rather “why?” Anyone can go to rehab. Any addict can say they are in recovery. But what does that mean to them? Is it just a set of words thrown around to make themselves or their families feel better? Or does it hold weight in their heart? Does it carry potential in their life’s future?
The first step towards a successful recovery is admitting you have a problem, and asking for help. But this must be done with a mindset of willingness to recover.
Stop Avoiding Recovery
Whether or not you need to go through an inpatient rehab, the most crucial part in making a decision for recovery is releasing any resistance there might be towards the process. If you go into it with the idea that it probably won’t work, then chances are you won’t give yourself that push you need to see through the other side.
If you’re willing to change, but still avoiding recovery or rehab because you are too afraid of failing, it’s better to go into it anyway! Mistakes are inevitable in at least one part of recovery. It doesn’t mean you have to go through a full-blown relapse, but there might be certain steps that are harder than others. Even if there is a relapse, with perseverance to get back into the recovery mindset is always there waiting again. The feeling of failure is normal. If anything, mistakes are just another part of the work. Remember: it’s about consistent progress, not perfection.
Do You Need to Hit Rock Bottom?
Is rehab or recovery from addiction “only” for those who end up hitting rock bottom and need to get out of it? Not necessarily. You don’t have to reach rock bottom to come to the realization that you want and need to seek recovery for your addiction, no matter what it may be. In fact, it’s probably even more helpful if you decide on recovery before you hit rock bottom.
Even though rock bottom is sometimes what it takes for some of us to fully realize the damage of our addiction, not everyone needs to experience that. If you can admit the addiction has become out of your control and you feel a need to live differently for the best interest of your future self, then decide on recovery now.
Release Your Expectations
So, you’re deciding to get sober. You’re sick of the consequences your drug addiction has caused you up until this point. Your body, mind, and soul can no longer seem to handle any more substance abuse. Maybe you don’t know where to even begin. That’s okay. Taking on any new change of habit or lifestyle can be extremely scary at first.
Getting sober from drugs or alcohol is no easy life change. Get help and stay connected with the support system you need. If you have any expectations about what recovery “is” or “it not”, let them go now. Every person who comes to a point in their life where they choose to break free of substance addiction is agreeing to something unknown. Life without drugs, letting go of old friends or peer groups, figuring out a way to start over and learn new ways of coping with the stresses of life. It’s all a series of unexpected new lessons.
The good thing about remaining open and not allowing previous expectations to hold you back is that you can embrace new ideas and understandings easier. When there’s no specific way you “need” things to be in order for you to continue pursuing recovery, chances are you’re going to take the good and leave the bad, increasing your mindset for recovery.
Don’t Let the Bad Examples Scare You Away
Although there are some bad examples of treatment centers throughout the United States, there is a lot of good quality professional rehabs that help even the most helpless feeling addicts move on to a sober and successful recovery. You can’t look at one bad apple in the bunch and decide that that’s the full story of all treatment centers.
In the same way, don’t think that just because someone you know attempted to get sober and failed means that you’re bound to following the same outcomes that they experienced. Even if your parents were addicts who never fully got over their addictive ways, you still absolutely have a chance at rewriting your story and finding the help you need to get sober.
Although it might be true that history tends to repeat itself, the more you step up and work through the issues of the past, the increase in the opportunity you’re creating not only for yourself but for others in the future as well. The positive impact recovering addicts have on others who are new to recovery can be powerful.
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect
It’s tempting to think that people in recovery might expect you to be perfect upon committing to getting sober. This is not true! Nobody is perfect. As the common saying goes, it’s about “progress, not perfection.”
Additionally, you do not have to be any certain way to show up and be ready to start getting sober! You don’t need to “fix your life up” first, then go ask for help. That’s the whole point of asking for help– you admit that the way you’re currently doing things is not working out well for you. From there, you learn how to find solutions and figure out a way that does work.
Remember: Recovery is Long-Term
Recovery isn’t a means to an end. Rather, it is a lifelong rediscovery of the self.
Entering into rehab with the idea that it might cure you if you complete a 28-day or several month-long programs is not the way it really works. A “one size fits all” is not the case when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Everyone’s experience is different. Some people have to work at it more than others, and some of us need more accountability and support than others. Either way, the skills and tools rehab offers are extremely helpful and can be used for the rest of your life if you practice the ones that work for you.
With that being said, when you begin to look at recovery as a continual series of opportunities to heal from the past and improve yourself for the present and the future, it becomes something to look forward to. Some of the vulnerability required during getting sober can scare people away. But, the most breakthrough happens upon going through the vulnerable and honest steps of recovery. During the times when confronting the pains of life, it’s best to remember, “the pain won’t kill you, but the drugs surely will.”
Is Recovery Really Worth It?
Recovery is worth it if you decide it is. What do you want your future to be like? Full of chaos, drug abuse, regret? Or freedom, empowerment, and a clear mind? Ultimately it’s up to you depending on what you choose right now. Each moment is a new moment to either improve or fall back. It might not always look like moving forward, but if you take one step back, try again.
You might be wondering if drug rehab is worth it. That also depends– some might say they tried going to rehab and it didn’t work, others have hopped from treatment center to the treatment center with no luck. And there are plenty of recovering addicts who went through some type of addiction treatment center to continue on their journey fully upon completing treatment.
Ultimately, the individual who does well in rehab or addiction recovery knows that help is what they want and reaching sobriety is possible for him or her. This person doesn’t give up when life gets hard. They keep coming back to the support. They accept the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of what it means to become and stay sober. Most of all, they are willing to do the work and put in the effort towards their overall success and well-being.
If you or someone you love needs help making a decision about how or where to enter into recovery, reach out for help today.