5 Common Obstacles to Successful Alcohol Rehabilitation

Posted on February 6th, 2012
Posted in Articles

Just ask anyone who’s gone through alcohol rehabilitation what is was like. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who will tell you that it was easy. Those who stick with it and stay sober will most likely tell you that going to rehab was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Without treatment, most alcoholics continue down a path in which they slowly spiral deeper and deeper into their addiction. Alcohol treatment programs are designed to stop the downward spiral once and for all. They can help individuals find the strength, motivation, and courage to make the necessary changes in their life that will put them on the path to recovery.

Of course, not everyone is successful when it comes to alcohol rehabilitation. Some never start, while others enter treatment only to quit prematurely or relapse soon after they’ve completed the program. There are many reasons for this, but following are some of the most common obstacles to successful rehab:

Believing you’re the “exception”. Denial is one of the hallmarks of addictive behavior. However, if you cling to the belief that you’re the exception when it comes to your drinking habit, success will be unlikely. Common “exception” thought processes include:

  • “I’m not like everyone else who drinks (i.e. other alcoholics)”
  • “I choose to drink and can stop any time I want”
  • “My life is difficult right now”
  • “Everyone’s making far too much of a fuss about my drinking”
  • “I’m quite capable of handling this on my own”
  • “Only weak people need help”
  • “Everyone’s ganging up on me”
  • “My situation is special”

You have a negative attitude about alcohol rehabilitation. No matter what kind of treatment you’re undergoing – whether it’s for a medical condition, a mental health disorder, or an addiction – attitude plays a significant role in determine your success. Many alcoholics approach rehab with a negative attitude, especially if they’re forced into treatment (e.g. rehab is court mandated) or because a loved one gave them an ultimatum.

A lack of commitment and willingness to make any real effort almost always accompany a negative attitude. With the wrong attitude, you’re starting treatment on the wrong foot. You’re already on the defense, which makes the entire process an uphill battle. If you’re fortunate, while you’re there something will “click” and your attitude will turn around, but that’s usually the exception not the rule.

You’re not being honest. If you’re not willing to be honest with your treatment providers and others in the program with you (not to mention with yourself) your chances of success are slim to none. The willingness to be honest – no matter how much the truth hurts – is a key aspect of successful alcohol rehabilitation. Dishonesty at any point in your treatment is only going to sabotage your chances of success. Without full honesty, you’ll just be wasting your time. Once you commit to being honest, however, you’ll start making progress you never imagined possible.

Lack of participation. Alcohol rehabilitation isn’t something that happens to you; rather, it’s something you participate in – that is, if you truly want to recover. If you enroll in a treatment program but remain passive, skip sessions or activities that are part of the treatment process, or just don’t pay attention, you’re not going to be successful. The bottom line is this: what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. The more you participate, the greater your chances of success.

Lack of proper aftercare. Your rehab doesn’t abruptly stop once you’ve completed your treatment program. It’s crucial that there is a good aftercare plan in place and that you stick with it. This may include ongoing counseling, attending a support group regularly, and developing and maintaining a strong support network. Without proper aftercare, you’ll be much more vulnerable to relapsing and falling back into your old lifestyle.

Alcohol rehabilitation isn’t easy. It can be a long, challenging road. However, the rewards are immense for those who get clean and sober and are able to maintain their sobriety (or quickly get back on track if they do relapse). If you’re considering treatment for an alcohol problem, make the decision before you start to make the most out of your rehab program.

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