A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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How To Avoid Common Obstacles For Successful Addiction Treatment And Recovery

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How To Avoid Common Obstacles For Successful Addiction Treatment And Recovery

If you’re contemplating addiction treatment, it’s probably not something you’re looking forward to.  In fact, it wouldn’t be unusual if you’re completely dreading it and wish you somehow could avoid it altogether.  But you can’t (for whatever reason) or you choose not to.  So, it makes sense to do everything in your power to ensure that rehab is a one-time event and not end up having to repeat it down the road, right?

Of course, that’s much easier said than done.  The road to recovery is replete with potential obstacles, some of which can be pretty daunting or so subtle that you don’t recognize them until it’s too late.  Fortunately, though, the more aware and proactive you are throughout the process (i.e. before, during, and after rehab), the greater your chances of a successful, lasting recovery.  Following are several ways to prepare for and avoid many of the most likely obstacles.

Prior To Rehab

Overcome the cost issue. There’s no doubt about it; addiction treatment often comes with a high price tag. Those daunting dollar signs can make you, like many who struggle with an addiction, feel that the treatment you need – and deserve – is simply out of reach.  But before you throw your hands up in despair and reach for another drink (or hit), know that 1) you’re not alone, and 2) there are very likely options you haven’t yet realized.

How To Avoid Obstacles For Successful Addiction Treatment And RecoveryThe first thing to do is check with your health insurance company (if you have health coverage) to find out exactly what they will cover.  Many plans do cover addiction treatment to varying degrees.  If you don’t have insurance, or if the coverage is very limited, then consider financing the program.  Remember, this is a serious investment in your future, so don’t rule out financing it if needed.

Many treatment facilities will allow you to set up a payment plan.  Some offer financial assistance as well.  Talk to the admissions department of the program or programs you’re considering to determine all the options available to you.  You may find that the cost isn’t as prohibitive as it initially appeared, and that doors can open that you never expected.  Don’t let the cost obstacle defeat you right out of the gate before you’ve looked into every possible option. 

Another way to think of it:  the cost of not getting treatment will almost certainly far exceed the cost of the most expensive treatment program in the long run – and often many times over.  Many of those seeking treatment find that the old saying really does hold true:  where there’s a will there’s a way.  Have faith that a door will open if you knock on enough of them.

Avoid the wrong treatment program (for you) by being selective.  Glossy brochures and fancy marketing tactics don’t necessarily mean a treatment center is good at what they do – or that it’s the right one for you.  Do your research; check out the facility’s history, including staff credentials, licensure, etc.  If possible, talk to anyone who’s received treatment there or who may be familiar with the program.  Look for programs that are well-established, have a good reputation, and offer a comprehensive, holistic approach.  Also, look for programs that offer good aftercare (more on that later).

It’s also important to make sure the program you choose offers treatment that’s based on research, rather than some “alternative” or trendy approach that may be lacking in substance even though it sounds really good on the surface.  Extensive research has been done in the area of addiction treatment, and programs that base their treatment on scientific evidence are much more likely to be beneficial.  Check to see if the program is properly accredited, which is a good indicator it’s approach is solid.

Make sure the program is a good fit for you.   Some treatment centers have a specific philosophy (e.g. one that’s “based on Biblical principles”) or cater to a specific demographic (e.g. women only).  You may thrive in a secular program but feel very uncomfortable in a faith-based rehab center – or vice versa.

You’ll be much more likely to succeed in rehab (and beyond) if you choose a program that fits you well the first time around. If you’re not sure, contact a few treatment centers and ask a lot of questions about their philosophy and approach.  Keep in mind, though, that while none may feel like a “perfect fit”, one or two should feel like a better fit than others.

Along these same lines, it’s important to find a program that can accommodate any special needs you may have.  For example, if you’re the sole custodian of your children, it would be a good idea to find a program that offers housing or other child care options for them while you’re in treatment.

During Rehab

Actively participate.  Recovery isn’t something that passively happens to you – it’s something you actively work to achieve.  You can go into addiction treatment kicking and screaming, sullenly determined to refuse to participate – and leave wondering why it seemed like a complete waste of time.  Or, you can make the decision from the outset to actively participate and try to get as much out of your time there as you can.

Will it be fun?  Probably not.  Will it be worthwhile?  That’s largely up to you.

Many addicts have a victim mentality, blaming everyone but themselves for their problems.  Maybe your father was physically abusive while you were growing up, or your mother is an unbearable narcissist who finds nothing but fault with you.  But while those experiences no doubt significantly impacted your life, they don’t have to define you.  Now is the time to decide that your future is up to you and the choices you make from this day forward.  The more you strive to get out of rehab this time, the less likely there will be a next time.

After Rehab

Regard your recovery as a long-term process.  Successful recovery isn’t akin to a 100-yard dash.  Rather, it’s much more like a marathon.  Rehab may be a short-term, time-limited event, but it doesn’t end there.  Yes, you did a lot of hard work while you were there – and it’s important to acknowledge that.  But you didn’t walk out the door “cured” of your addiction.  That’s why it’s imperative to continue using the things you learned in rehab if you’re serious about staying clean and sober.

Don’t let that discourage you.  Remember, the most worthwhile things in life rarely (if ever) come quickly and easily.  They take effort, tenacity, and determination.

Make sure you get proper aftercare.  One of the most crucial aspects of successful recovery – and thwarting an early relapse – is proper aftercare.  As mentioned above, recovery didn’t end when you left rehab.  That would be nice, but it’s not reality.  Many addiction treatment facilities offer ongoing aftercare to help ensure your success.  However, if your rehab treatment occurs far away from home, it’s important to make sure a good aftercare plan is in place when you return home. 

An aftercare program typically includes ongoing counseling and support.  Support may come in the form of support groups (that you attend on a regular basis) as well as helping you establish a solid support network.  Aftercare is crucial to your recovery because, without it, you are much more likely to relapse.  It helps bolster you during times of temptation while keeping you accountable.  Those who have a strong aftercare program are much less vulnerable to slipping back into their old habits – the very habits that contributed to their addiction.

Surround yourself with supportive people. You’ll encounter three types of people before, during, and after rehab:  those who truly want you to succeed, those who want to undermine you, and those who don’t care one way or the other.  The more you’re able to surround yourself with individuals in the first category, the greater your chances of staying on track with your recovery.

Sometimes supportive individuals (outside of those involved in your aftercare) are hard to find, especially if you don’t have supportive family or friends, have moved to a new city, or severely alienated everyone prior to rehab.  But it’s not impossible with some effort. Twelve-step programs and other types of support groups are available in most areas.  Online groups are also available, although they shouldn’t the replace face-to-face interactions that occur in support groups that you physically attend.

You can also find supportive individuals in a variety of contexts, such as a church community or an exercise-based program – any type of group in which people are more likely to endorse a healthy lifestyle and be supportive of fellow members.  Talk to your aftercare counselor about ways to bolster your support network, as well as how to avoid situations and settings that may not be in your best interest.

Above all else, believe in yourself.  You can either be your greatest cheerleader or your worst enemy.  Ultimately, that choice is up to you.  As someone in recovery, you may still be haunted at times by past pejorative labels.  People may have been very cruel in the harsh words and judgments they directed towards you.  And those can be hard to forget.  But having an addiction doesn’t make you any less worthy than anyone else.  Not to mention, choosing to get help, do the hard work, and continuing to work on your recover shows that you are resilient and courageous – two traits that should make you proud.

The recovery journey is anything but easy – anyone who says otherwise has never walked that path.  The obstacles along the way can be overcome.  Take it one step and one day at a time.  Believe in yourself and you can and will succeed.

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