All or Nothing: When a More Moderate Approach Works Best in Rehab

Posted on June 16th, 2013

All or Nothing: When a More Moderate Approach Works Best in RehabReady to give rehab a try? Maybe it’s been quite a difficult struggle for you to get to this point, but if you have made the decision that getting clean and sober is definitely on your agenda, this is quite a singular accomplishment.

Now is when the hard work begins.

Before you get cold feet and make a rash decision to chuck the idea of rehab and put it off for another time, consider that there really is no better time than the present. You might think that you don’t have what it takes to stick with rehab, rationalizing that you’ll probably quit halfway through, so what’s the point? You might, on the other hand, force yourself into rehab for better or worse, either because others will make your life a veritable nightmare if you don’t, or you just feel like you have to get this monkey off your back.

Guess what?  Rehab isn’t really an all or nothing proposition. In fact, it isn’t a proposition at all, but rather a process. And the best part is that a more moderate approach may very well work the best for you in rehab.

Confused about what this means? Worried that is sounds more complex than you bargained for? Put your confusion and worry aside. Here is some information that will help ease your mind and make you feel better about your decision to go into treatment.

Choosing the Right Rehab Facility

There are lots of sites offering advice on how to choose the best rehab facility for your particular addiction or addictions. While much of what is written is very good to consider — whether it centers on getting a good feel for what the treatment center has to offer and whether or not you feel it is a good fit for you, to finding out if your insurance will pick up the cost or most of the cost of rehab, to what kind of leisure time activities are offered, to your living accommodations while you are in treatment – all of these are ancillary to the key point about choosing a rehab facility.

It has to be the right one for you.

What does this mean? How can you know if a rehab facility is the best one for you? In a way, you have to go with your gut. That’s after you’ve put in the time and done your research to get answers to all the pertinent questions, like those listed above.

Why all the fuss about getting it right as to your selection of treatment facility? Actually, there’s a very good reason for it. You will be spending some time in rehab, first to detoxify and get all the toxic substances out of your body, and then to go into therapy – the crux of the rehab process – to learn how to overcome your addiction.

Note that nowhere is there any guarantee of success. You can go to the most celebrated treatment center there is, one with stellar credentials and a terrific track record. But if you don’t do the work and put yourself 100 percent out there, the results may not be what you want or expect.

How successful your rehab is will depend on you. That’s it in a nutshell.

But this doesn’t mean that you can just go anywhere and the process will work the same. Rehab centers are like people in that they each have different personalities. As such, doesn’t it make more sense to select one that is more in tune with yours? Once you start looking into what’s available, you’ll come to some conclusions pretty early on. It won’t be all that tough to single out several that you’ll want to check out further.

From there, it’s a weeding out process to arrive at the one rehab facility that offers the best of all your requirements. It may not be the most expensive or it might be. It may be more Spartan than luxury. It may be in state or several states away or on the other side of the country. It may specialize in many different areas, including the one you seek treatment for, or it may be a facility dedicated to your particular addiction alone.

Think of this as similar to choosing the right university or college. This is a significant investment, both in time, money and effort. You want to get it right. What you will learn during rehab will help establish your foundation to begin recovery.

Keep your options open until you need to make a decision. Then, make your choice and don’t look back.

Finding Rehab Too Tough To Handle

Let’s say that you enter rehab, go through detox, and begin the one-on-one therapy sessions with the counselor assigned to you. At first, it may seem strange and not all that comfortable to be in the presence of a stranger and to talk about your life in addiction. You may be tempted to keep things back and, if you’re like many first-timers to rehab, you probably do.

But somewhere along the way during these sessions with your therapist, you may find that it’s getting just a little too tough for you to handle. You don’t like the line of questioning. You really don’t want to go through the exercises and homework. And you most definitely don’t want to revisit painful memories of your past.

What you do feel like doing is bolting out of there.

Before you ditch rehab, however, take the time and make the effort to talk with your therapist about your discomfort. This is, after all, your rehab. Your therapist isn’t in this to see how much he can dig out of you or to make your life miserable while you’re in treatment. The whole purpose is to help you gain some insight into why you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing, to encourage you to look at alternatives, to make better choices, and to have hope that your life in sobriety can be fulfilling and stable.

Working with your therapist, you can come up with a plan and decide upon an approach that works better for you. This is what it’s like to adopt a more moderate approach in rehab. It isn’t all gung-ho and there’s only one way to proceed. Rehab doesn’t work that way – at least, effective rehab isn’t like that.

Ask yourself, though, if you are rebelling against the questions your therapist is asking because you don’t want to go there, or is it that it is truly painful and you need to take a slower pace? You might be engaging in self-denial, telling yourself and your therapist that you don’t have a problem with this or never struggled with that, when in fact, you really have and do need help with this area of your recovery process.

Remember that one-on-one counseling is one of the most important parts of the rehab process, but it isn’t the only one. There is also group counseling or group sessions, where you’ll participate along with others who are also in rehab. From time to time, there may be some personality conflicts or clashes during these sessions, but these too should not deter you from sticking with rehab. Talk with the group facilitator, your therapist, or someone of authority at the rehab facility if things get out of hand.

Just make the decision to remain in rehab. It isn’t all that much time away from your life, but what you learn during rehab may very well be some of the most important information you’ve ever learned.

Trying Different Therapies

When you enter rehab, you’ll probably hear about a number of different therapies that the facility uses. Most addiction treatment facilities use a multi-disciplinary approach that combines many therapies, all tailored to the patient’s particular needs. That is because this has been proven to be the most effective in helping individuals learn to overcome addiction. There is no single approach that works for everyone.

That said, it is important that you recognize that your personalized treatment plan may call for you to start off with one or two therapies, in combination with one-on-one counseling, group sessions, recovery literature reading and some leisure activities. You may also be prescribed medication to help counteract or minimize the effects of withdrawal, to help ease your anxiety or for some other reason.

The combination of your prescribed medication and the various therapies may not be as effective as they could be. It isn’t that there is anything wrong with them, just that the results aren’t forthcoming. Again, working with your assigned therapist, who will be doing regular reviews of your progress, some changes can be made to substitute other forms of therapy or to add to what you currently have.

The point is that there are many therapies available to help you in rehab. You don’t have to worry that if one doesn’t work, all is lost or that you’ve wasted your time at the facility. If you have a problem or if you don’t think you’re getting anywhere with the therapy or therapies, discuss it with your therapist. Something can always be worked out.

Remember that it isn’t an all or nothing approach when it comes to the therapies you participate in. There may be something standing in the way of your being able to make progress. You might, for example, have experienced significant trauma in the past or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One therapy that’s been proven effective in dealing with both is eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). Such a therapy can help you move past those painful memories and begin to get on with your life. This is just one example of the many different therapies and therapeutic approaches that are available in rehab.

When You Think You Should Be Making More Progress

Another critical area in rehab is how you believe you are doing. For many who are experiencing rehab for the first time, it often seems as if things aren’t moving along as fast as they should. What people don’t realize, however, is that rehab is just the beginning of the process of overcoming addiction. It takes time to learn how to manage your life once you are clean and sober. You have a lot of bad choices that you need to learn how to substitute healthier choices for.

When you feel like rehab is a waste of time or that you should be able to “get it” quicker than you are — remember this: what you are doing here during rehab is just the beginning. No one really walks out of a treatment facility with absolutely everything figured out as to how they’re going to live the rest of their lives. How could they? For one thing, they’ve just gone through rehab. For many, this is the first time being sober in many years. There is a lot they have to learn and rehab is just the start of the process.

This doesn’t mean that you should shortchange your expectations of what rehab can do for you. Give yourself every opportunity to learn as much as you can while you are in the safe and secure environment of the rehab facility. Take advantage of the time you have with your therapist, using your precious sessions to delve deeply into what’s been troubling you. While you may come away with many more questions that you came into the session with, this is good because it stimulates you to begin thinking more strategically about your part in your recovery.

Will you know everything you need to know at the conclusion of rehab? No, of course you won’t. But you will know a great deal, even if you’ve only gone into rehab because you were more or less forced to or felt you didn’t really have a choice. Everyone who goes through rehab comes away from the experience with more than they entered with. The question is, after rehab is over, what are you going to do with what you have learned? How will you take it to the next level so that you continue making progress in recovery?

The Emotional Journey of Healing

One particular area of rehab that may be somewhat confusing is how you deal with it emotionally. And, let’s be frank about it, going through rehab can put you on an emotional roller coaster. For one thing, as the toxic substances begin to leave your body, your senses may be heightened. You may feel emotions you haven’t felt for a long time, and the sensations may not be all that welcome or pleasant. After all, you’ve been deadening and numbing yourself with your drug of choice for so long that this flood of emotions may be a bit disconcerting.

Keep in mind that you need to be able to feel emotion. Joy, sadness, pain, satisfaction, love, contentment – life is less than complete without being able to experience the full gamut of emotions. Instead of being fearful of your emotions, learn how to welcome their return.

Granted, learning how to get a handle on your emotions so that you don’t go off the deep end, act inappropriately, or be so afraid of them that you want to revert to your drug of choice just to stop them will take some time. Again, use the time that you have during rehab to talk with your therapist about any emotions that you find troubling or want help with.

Above all, remember that rehab is the beginning of your overall healing journey. Emotions play a big part in your healing process.

Bottom line: Forget about rehab being an all or nothing, one-time, get-it-right-or-go-home trial to be endured. The best approach for you may very well be a more moderate one – keeping the ultimate goal of getting clean and sober front and center, and picking up as much knowledge about how to live a healthier lifestyle in sobriety along the way.

And you definitely can do this.

 

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