No matter how you ended up in treatment or how resistant and resentful you are, there is great benefit once you start participating. The short time you are in residential or intensive outpatient treatment is going to be the foundation of your recovery. Follow these tips to get through rehab and make the journey to recovery easier. What you learn in treatment is going to save your life. Pay attention!


You did not end up in rehab because you had a few too many at a family function, or you ‘dabbled’ in street drugs a bit, or you popped a couple more prescription pills than you should have. You ended up in rehab because you have lost control over your alcohol, drug, or behavioral addiction.

Once you have experienced detox and the associated symptoms and side effects of withdrawing from your substance of choice, you probably won’t be jumping at the chance to do that again. Detox is a bitch no matter what.

Every person in treatment has left varying levels of destruction behind them. Your wreckage is your fault. Your substance use was the catalyst of all the horrible decisions you have made because of your addiction.

Chances are you burned bridges and alienated the people closest to you. While family, relationships, friends, employers and other loved ones are part of the problem, they are not the ones currently in rehab.

You might be lucky and have some people still willing to help you. If not, you could be on your own trying to figure out what to do next.

The first question is…. How did you end up in rehab?


You are going to be on a very tight and busy daily schedule from the moment you enter treatment. Because most insurers only pay for 28 days, an enormous amount of information has to be crammed into the time you are there.

Substance abuse treatment exists to help you learn all about addiction, develop coping skills, identify triggers, build a relapse prevention plan, a treatment plan, and to begin dealing with the psychological barriers contributing to your addiction.

You will be responsible for making the necessary changes to your attitude and behavior, and for setting goals for yourself. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Your recovery is firmly placed in your hands.

You are in treatment to learn how to not use a substance to cope with your life. You are there to learn how to begin rebuilding your life.

As you get through rehab, remember that 28 days is a short amount of time. You have nothing to lose settling into the routine and spending some time reflecting.

If you continue your addiction…you.will.die.


There are three or four types of people in treatment. Where you fall on the spectrum will be a fairly good precursor to your success or failure in recovery.


If you are in treatment against your will, you still get the benefit of all the treatment. What you choose to do at the end of it is up to you. You control your actions. A bad attitude just pisses people off; it is distracting and frustrating for others. Being disruptive and rude may keep you isolated, but you’re not doing yourself any favors.

You are likely to be smuggling in contraband, ignoring the rules, and walking out of the gates to more pain and suffering when you immediately get drunk or high.


There is the happy, hoppy skippy A+ student who just ‘gets it.” You are the one who never shuts up. You are so ecstatic to be in treatment you are literally the teacher’s pet. You answer all the questions, do all of the work, all of the time.

You may be popular and charming, socializing easily. Being over-confident leads to missing out on large chunks of information and being half-assed when doing assignments. Your knowledge will be shallow and incomplete. Chances are you will relapse.


Then there is the middle-aged group who consider treatment to be the Taj Mahal or yearly pilgrimage to clear out their system and have a mini-vacay. You are part of a group of golden girls (or cougars!) looking to hook up with the younger guys and have a bit of a mini-vacation.

You are part of the ladies who lunch set with more money than sense. You will, of course, fell quite good at the end of your 28-day detox. You will be ready to return to the five o’clock cocktail hour.

For goodness sake, if you end up in the sights of one of these women, the mantra is “no rehab romance!”


Often you will experience people with moderate to severe mental health issues, or a primary eating disorder or behavioral disorder. Understand that until you detox the true nature of your problems is difficult to assess.

Substance abuse disorders and mental health disorder go hand in hand. A large number of people in rehab have both.

If a client is disruptive or clearly not well suited to a facility, staff will do their best to find an appropriate placement.

During your stay at least one client is likely to be kicked out for violating policies. This happens all the time.

Detox symptoms mask true personality. If you meet an angry, unhappy person during detox, give it a few days. When they are feeling better and have had some time to settle in, you might find a kinder gentler person in their place.

Pain and suffering do a real number on you and your ability to interact with the world around you.


If you are serious about your recovery you will be working hard to understand how all of the information applies to you. You will be willing to try anything. You will have an open mind and consider all angles of a problem before making a decision.

You will be like a sponge trying to assimilate all of the information, assignments counseling and skills during your stay.


Detox can take a few days or a few weeks. The sooner you are in a seat in treatment, the better it is for your recovery. Medication-assisted detox is more common as new mediation become available to help with the cravings, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms.

Make an effort to join as many groups as you can while you detox. You will still benefit from what is being discussed. People will be understanding and helpful if you are having physical or psychological side effects of your detox. People will be willing to help you with the things you struggle with.

There is so much information; education, bio-psycho-social aspects, worksheets, assignments, counseling, gender groups, relapse prevention, skills groups, meditation, exercise, process groups, and specialty groups.

Ask questions. If you are unsure of something or want more information, just ask. Your time in treatment is preparation for what you are going to think, feel, and how you will act once you leave treatment.

You will learn about aspects of recovery that you won’t experience straight away. Some things don’t pop up until 60-90 days and beyond. Early recovery lasts for at least 12 months. Having a really good grasp of what symptoms to watch out for (i.e. emotional relapse symptoms) or how to respond to difficult situations will serve you well.

You want to be active in your recovery, but not cocky or over-confident. Recovery requires a large amount of humility. If you knew how to cope with life on your own, you would not be sitting in rehab.

Pay attention. Everything you see, hear, and touch in treatment applies to you. Everyone’s story is different, but the effects are the same. Look for the similarities, not the differences. The people will be diverse, but the stories are the same.

Do as you are told. Don’t skip work. Treatment is going to be emotional and difficult. You will be digging into the sources of your addiction. Your deepest fears and secrets will be exposed. Once they are, you can deal with them, and let them go, or put them into the suitcase of your past and leave them packed.

Take the time to ponder, before you jump straight into denial. Often you fiercely defend behaviors that are contributing to your problems rather than admitting them and facing them. Take ownership and take the power out of them.


If you are in residential treatment you are in an insulated environment. There is not too much you have to worry about.

Your lodging, meals, routine and schedule are provided for you. You just need to go with the flow.

Away from the people, places, and things that are associated with your addiction life suddenly becomes less complicated. There isn’t too much temptation or opportunity while you are sequestered away.

Most problems that involve legal, relationship, material wealth, or employment are all on hold while you are in treatment. There will be certain problems that are going to require attention, but for the most part, you are in bubble wrap for 28 days.

When you leave treatment all of your wreckage will be there waiting for you. It will be like hitting a brick wall. So, you NEED to be paying attention while you are in treatment. And you need to be planning how to fix your problems.

Drugs, alcohol, and electronics will make their way into treatment. Visiting day is an opportunity to smuggle contraband. You need to steer clear of all of that drama. It will happen. Someone always talks, there are eyes everywhere.

Most inpatient treatment facilities are not lock-down. You are able to walk right out the door if that is what you want to. But, rehab is a safe bubble, silly to leave really, and there is no refund.

You are in an environment that offers safety and security for the time you are there. Take the time to decompress and learn a little.


Bottom line, you need to do what you are told. Treatment recommendations are made based on your history, your substance of choice, the results of your addiction, your immediate problems and your safety and wellbeing.

Follow direction. Your decisions got you here. Obviously, your choices are not particularly good ones.

You can’t bounce out of treatment, consider yourself cured, and jump right back into your old life. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Extending your stay is usually an option. Based on your counselor, your progress, and how hard you have worked in treatment, your exit plan will include continuing care.

Continuing care can be a mixture of outpatient, check-in groups, peer-led meetings and support groups, transitional housing, sober living environments, counseling, mental health and health professionals, and personalized treatment plan goals.

Take advantage of everything you can. The first year is unsettling. There is a lot of hard work and determination needed to persevere in recovery. Acceptance is a must to move forward. Gratitude and humility have to be part of the equation.


Just about everyone in treatment is in a big hurry to get back to their lives. Not realizing that nothing is going to be the same again. Just about everything has to change.

People are going to have expectations. They are going to think that because you went to treatment you are cured. In fact, you might feel like that too.

You’re not cured. You are in recovery, and you are a work in progress. One day at a time. And only one day at a time.

You will be reactionary as opposed to responsive. Your emotions will be raw and close to the surface. It will take a while to get used to managing your emotions and your behavior.

It is a good idea to have the people closest to you goes through the family program that is offered. It’s definitely going to help if everyone is on the same page, and everyone learns a bit about addiction and expectations.

You only have control over yourself.

Work on your solutions. Make good decisions. Focus on the here and now.



Recovery Myth: The more you spend on rehab the better the treatment.

Recovery Myth: When the consequences get bad enough, you will seek treatment.

Recovery Myth: You have to hit rock bottom before getting help.

Recovery Myth: You only drink on weekends, you don’t have a problem.

Recovery Myth:You are one week substance free, you are cured!

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7 tips to get through rehab

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