Preparing for Rehab: What You Need to Know
While entering treatment is the most profound step in your journey toward recovery, there are a few practical things you can do beforehand to prepare for the experience. Many people who are entering rehab for the first time may not know what to expect or how to tell family and friends that they are about to check into a treatment facility. It’s important to remember that it is completely normal to feel stressed about this new process and putting work-related and other engagements on hold, but these worries can easily be dealt with by properly preparing for rehab.
Understanding How Rehab Works
Many people fear going to rehab simply because they are unsure of how it works or what to expect; understanding the treatment process can help to calm your nerves and mentally prepare for the journey ahead of you. The main focus of treatment programs is to teach you how to function in everyday life without substance abuse. A large component of addiction rehabilitation focuses on being completely honest with yourself and exploring the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that drove your addiction.
Exact schedules vary from center to center, but patients can expect to undergo the following steps upon enrollment into a rehabilitation program:
Admissions and Intake
The first few days of treatment are focused on helping the patient to feel comfortable in the program and informing the medical team about the individual needs of the patient. The doctors and therapists need to be familiar with a patient’s drug history, mental health, and medical history in order to create a personalized treatment plan that will be effective.
If a patient has a physical dependence and is suffering from withdrawal symptoms, detox is the first step after the initial diagnostic evaluation. Patients may receive medication to help relieve the extremity of withdrawal and begin the process of psychotherapeutic care.
Counseling and Therapy
After detox, patients will receive care through personal and group therapy sessions. Therapies can range from traditional to holistic, and this is the care that will define the majority of the rehab experience. During this time, patients begin the process of working on the trauma and mental health issues that may have pushed them toward addiction in the first place.
Aftercare programs maintain connections with patients in recovery and peer groups once they have been discharged from rehab. Aftercare can consist of ongoing therapy, support group attendance, and treatment services such as acupuncture.
Taking Care of Family, Work, and Financial Obligations
All family, work, and financial obligations need to be taken care of before entering rehab. This may include setting up appropriate care for your children if you’re a parent or informing your employer that you will be missing a few weeks of work. It’s natural to feel hesitant about telling others the reason why you are going to rehab or that you’re going at all, but it is important to have open communication with those around you regarding your current condition. Gaining support from employers and family members to enter rehab is a critical component in gaining the courage to stick with a drastic lifestyle change.
Parents going into rehab have a number of child care options available. The best choice is someone that the child or children already know and feel safe with, such as a significant other, relative, or close friend. However, if that is not an option, some treatment facilities provide child care services to their clients or allow the children to stay with their parents in rehab. If you’re worried about care for pets, ask a loved one to look after them or seek out boarding facilities and listings for local pet sitting options. Additionally, make sure to set up automatic payments for any bills that will need to be paid while you’re in rehab. If you are a working professional, it’s important to know that you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Unfulfilled obligations can be a distraction when undergoing treatment, so knowing that your loved ones and job will be protected during your stay in rehab is vital to a successful recovery.
Packing for Rehab: Bring the Essentials
The key to packing for rehab is to make sure that you pack light and smart for the duration of your stay. Some of the essential items that should be on every person’s packing list include:
- Any current prescription medications and insurance cards
- Government licensed ID
- List of important contact information
- Grooming and hygiene products
- Comfortable, appropriate clothing
- Laundry supplies
- A credit or reloadable debit card
The above list is simply the essentials, a person may need more than just these items for their stay, especially if he or she is planning to spend more than a month in a rehabilitation facility. Bringing an old iPod or MP3 player is a good addition, as listening to music can help combat the boredom or bouts of depression that can occur during rehab. It’s important to note that most treatment facilities don’t let patients bring a cell phone or any other device with an Internet connection because these devices can be used to violate other patients’ privacy, leave against medical advice, or get drugs into the rehab center. Books are another great edition to your packing list, as they can provide an escape for the reader or act as a connection to the outside world separate from rehab. Pictures of loved ones can also be helpful by providing motivation during the hard times and reminding you of the reason you chose to attend treatment in the first place.
The People You Meet Will Be a Second Support System
Going away for rehab can be a daunting thought, especially when you think about being there and undergoing one of the hardest transitions of your life without the presence of loved ones. However, it’s important to remember that you are never truly alone; rehab patients share many of the same struggles, and people often form life-long friendships with the people that they meet in treatment facilities. The friends you make in rehab can provide powerful, additional support as you go through treatment and embrace sobriety as a new lifestyle.
The relationships that you build in rehabilitation provide you with an established network of support for even after you leave the facility. Chances are that some of your friends outside of rehab are not the best influences and you may have to cut them out of your life, as they could be detrimental to the success of your recovery. Rather than worry about being alone during the hard struggles to come, you can be assured that the friends you meet in rehab share your challenge of overcoming addiction and you can offer each other mutual support as you go through this journey together. Loneliness is one of the most common triggers for relapse and having relationships in recovery makes a large, lasting impact on the effectiveness of treatment programs.
Write Letters or Keep a Journal
Journaling or keeping a regular record of experiences and feelings can be a helpful tool to advance your healing process during rehab. Journaling is a type of expressive writing, where your main goal is not to produce a “product” but to instead simply use the process of putting thoughts and feelings down on paper to help you understand and cope with those ideas and emotions.
Writing letters to loved ones can also be useful. Regardless if you send them or not, writing down and voicing your emotions can be extremely therapeutic, especially as they relate to your recovery. For example, a letter or journal can be used to record your rehab-related struggles and accomplishments or to identify emotions or experiences that may be hindering your recovery. It also helps to hold you accountable for your own decisions and individual actions, which can be extremely useful for when you are no longer in rehab and a faced with the temptations of the real world.
If you’re stuck in a rut or are unsure of how to get started with your journaling, here are a few helpful prompts to get you started:
- My favorite way to spend the day is…
- If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is…
- The two moments I’ll never forget in my life are… (describe them in great detail and what makes them so unforgettable)
The use of journaling can be an important tool in your recovery journey. It can help you recognize when and under what conditions you might be most at risk for a relapse; and it can help you identify situations that empower you and assist you in remaining strong in your commitment to sobriety.
Start Preparing for Rehab Today
Getting ready to attend rehab can be a bit nerve-wracking, but it’s important to remember that the more prepared you are, the better your experience will likely be. Taking the time to make the necessary preparations will ensure that you get the most out of treatment and maintain a successful recovery. If you’re ready to end your struggle with addiction and attend a rehab today, call one of our dedicated treatment specialists.
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