Choosing to stay at an inpatient rehab center can be frightening. You know you need to get help, but you don’t know what to expect. Chances are you have a host of conflicting ideas gleaned from TV shows, former addicts, and your own conjecture. While some of your ideas might be spot on, you may have inaccurate assumptions about the way a rehab works.
To get you more comfortable with the possibility of entering a rehab center, here is a brief guide as to what you can expect.
A Warm Community
Every best rehab center is built on the same foundation, regardless of its philosophy, approach, or staff: recovery is facilitated by the support of a warm community.
Many people entering rehab have burned a lot of bridges, causing conflict and distrust in their closest relationships. Denial, to yourself and others, is a symptom of addiction. Lies cause relationships to deteriorate, leaving you with feelings of guilt and aloneness.
This is why rehab centers need to provide community. In rehab, you will be surrounded by people in a similar situation to you. You learn to view each other non-judgmentally. If you lie to someone in rehab, or vice versa, the stakes are not as high as with family and friends, and the feelings of betrayal are therefore not as catastrophic.
Staff at rehab centers are trained in interpersonal skills and conflict management. They help generate the supportive community, and step in when the ethos of the community is at risk.
This is not to say that every resident will like every other resident or member of staff. That is not necessary. However, conflicts will be handled in a constructive manner, allowing for healing and growth.
Because community is at the heart of recovery, you can expect a warm, friendly environment at your rehab center. Rather than being a foreboding place where your mistakes are exposed, good rehabs embrace residents and provide an upbeat, collaborative environment of acceptance.
A lot of people expect rehab centers in US to have oppressive rules and punitive staff, like what you would expect in most schools. For people struggling with addiction, this would be a very unattractive proposition. After all, it is this kind of system in which many addicts have previously struggled to adapt, finding that individuality is punished where uniformity is rewarded.
Good rehab centers do not function in this way at all. On the contrary. While community is crucial, individuality is not only respected but nurtured. Instead of putting endless rules in place and assigning blame when they are broken, every resident is expected to take on personal responsibility. The goal is to find creative solutions that fit your personality, rather than follow rigid guidelines.
Personal responsibility means that, for the most part, you create your own expectations of yourself. You are accountable to yourself if you do not meet those expectations.
That’s not to say there are no rules in rehab. There need to be some non-negotiables to protect an environment in which recovery can take place. However, these rules are there to facilitate your growth and not to force you to conform.
The most well-known approach to recovery is the 12-Step Program. The 12-Step Program is premised on a particular process, through which the participant acknowledges their powerlessness over their addiction, accepts help, and begins to heal. They attend meetings (such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous) regularly as part of their recovery.
It is important to note that not every rehab center uses the 12-Step approach. For those who are not comfortable with some of the tenets of the system, alternative approaches can be very effective.
There are a number of programs that follow a different process to the 12 Steps. These programs are not necessarily mutually exclusive from the 12-Step program, and many 12-Step institutions incorporate some of the same techniques. These techniques include mindfulness training, hypnotherapy, goals-based therapies, and more.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Many depictions of rehabs portray residents detoxing, attending group sessions, learning about addiction, and preparing for sober living. They tend to neglect the fact that rehab centers also place a big focus on mental health.
Mental illness and substance abuse are strongly linked. Often, substance abuse begins as a way of dealing with untreated mental illness, although the causality can go in the opposite direction. If the mental illness is not treated, relapse is almost inevitable.
This is why most rehab centers take a dual diagnosis approach. They assess every resident for possible signs of mental illness and, when the individual is diagnosed, treat it concurrently.
Psychiatrists in rehab centers are able to prescribe non-addictive medications such as antidepressants and antianxiety pills. However, mental health treatment does not end there.
In individual therapy sessions, each resident confronts their own particular issues, including possible mental illness. This creates a greater context for the therapy, increasing effectiveness. When necessary, different therapeutic techniques will be used, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and more.
Another aspect of rehab that you may not expect is its focus on your environment as a whole, including your family. Recovery experts understand that a person does not become addicted to substances in a vacuum. Without addressing the context, an individual may relapse when they re-enter an environment that is toxic for them.
Many rehab centers provide family therapy as part of the recovery process. These sessions are facilitated by experts in family therapy. In addition to addressing the roots of any dysfunction, they also provide practical solutions for how best to implement new boundaries and decreasing the strength of any habitual triggers.If you are considering going to a rehab center, there is no reason to expect a negative experience. In fact, you will most likely enjoy your time in rehab, and consider it one of the most productive times in your life!
- Boisvert, R., Martin, L., Grosek, M. and Clarie, A. (2008). Effectiveness of a peer-support community in addiction recovery: participation as intervention. Occupational Therapy International, 15(4), pp.205-220.
Lynn E. O’Connor, Jack W. Berry, Darryl Inaba, Joseph Weiss, Andrea Morrison,
Shame, guilt, and depression in men and women in recovery from addiction, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 11, Issue 6, 1994, Pages 503-510, ISSN 0740-5472, https://doi.org/10.1016/0740-5472(94)90001-9.
Dr. Amy M. Buddie PhD (2004) Alternatives to Twelve-Step Programs, Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 4:3, 61-70, DOI: 10.1300/J158v04n03_04
- Franken, I. H. and Hendriks, V. M. (2001), Screening and Diagnosis of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Substance Abuse Patients. The American Journal on Addictions, 10: 30-39. doi:10.1080/105504901750160448.
Copello, A. and Orford, J. (2002), Addiction and the family: is it time for services to take notice of the evidence?. Addiction, 97: 1361-1363. doi:10.1046/j.1360-0443.2002.00259.x