Drug Rehab: What to Expect
Now that we’ve countered some of the prevailing myths about drug rehab, you might be wondering what actually goes on when you enter into treatment. What should you expect when you walk through the doors of the treatment facility? Here’s a quick overview.
Detoxification – The only way to get clean and be ready to enter treatment is to undergo detoxification. This process is where you stop taking the drug or, in the case of chronic addiction, you are gradually weaned off of the substance or substances you’re addicted to. Detoxification may involve medications to help alleviate the sometimes severe withdrawal symptoms that occur, as well as to help reduce or eliminate drug cravings.
Getting clean in the sense that alcohol and drugs have completely left your body may take a matter of days. It may also take longer than that. Different chemical substances linger in your body’s tissues longer than others. Each person’s physical makeup is different, and how your body reacts to withdrawal from drugs and/or alcohol is not the same as someone else undergoing withdrawal. Your age, length of time you’ve been addicted, whether it’s addiction to one or several substances, your state of mental and physical health outside of your addiction, and other factors all come into play.
But once the substances are out of your body, you go on to the next phase – in other words, that’s where the real work begins.
Treatment – Why did you begin using drugs in the first place? When you begin the actual treatment phases, you will learn what caused you to start using. More important than why you began using is learning what you can do to prevent your using in the future. This involves learning coping skills so you can deal with the stresses of daily life, the triggers that cause you to run back to drugs, techniques you can use to prevent and overcome drug cravings. Don’t think that just because you get clean and go through treatment that somehow the drug cravings will magically disappear. It doesn’t work that way. For some newly-recovered individuals, they may not experience drug cravings for a long time, while others get them right away or frequently. In some cases, drug cravings go away and recur months or years later. But you will learn how to combat them during treatment, and it’s important that you pay special attention to those skills and techniques. Why – because you will need them the rest of your life.
What actually happens during treatment? Your treatment program will consist of individual and group counseling, educational lectures and activities, physical exercise and group activities, family counseling (if appropriate), entertainment and other events. The program will seek to restore balance in your mind-body-spirit, so that you are able to leave treatment and resume your life – albeit with a considerable amount of changes that you will need to make.
You will have to give up your drug-using friends, quit frequenting places where people use drugs and alcohol. Instead, you will be making new friends, among who will be your allies in your support group meetings. It is through the strength and assistance of these members of your support group that you will be able to weather and endure the many challenges that come your way following treatment when you are in recovery. They are your lifeline, your own personal insurance policy to help you keep on the path of abstinence.
How long will it take to get clean and drug-free? Again, this depends upon the individual, the type of drug or substances causing the addiction, frequency of using and length of addiction, and other factors. Treatment may last 30 to 60 days, or it may take 6 months.