A Must Read Guide for First Time in Rehab

If you are reading our first time in rehab guide, then you or a loved one is considering going to a residential addiction treatment facility, or rehab, as it’s commonly known. If this is the case then we understand that there may be some concerns, even fears about this most critical part of the addiction recovery journey.

At 12 Step Rehabs our aim is to alleviate some of those concerns by supporting you through the entire process and offer a free initial consultation with one of our experienced rehab consultants’ who has experienced addiction first hand and is in recovery themselves with over 12 years of continuous sobriety.

During the free initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to learn more about how to prepare for rehab, both mentally and practically and ask more detailed questions about the process of admission and allow us to address any further concerns you may have about going to rehab.

Other guides we would recommend reading are Choosing a Rehab – a Guide for Parents and Loved Ones as well as Staying Clean after Rehab.

Mental Preparation -How to Prepare for Entering a 12 Step Rehab for the First Time

Making the decision to go to a 12 Step Rehab is a very courageous one, and should be acknowledged as such. People almost always make this decision after all other efforts to conquer their addiction have failed. Because of this, entering rehab is rarely seen as a joyful occasion. Rather, its a desperate decision made during what might be the darkest period in someone’s life. Often, people feel worn, scared, and confused during this time. But, it is also a moment of immense bravery. It is an unfortunate truth that many more people NEED treatment and actually receive it. So the ones that put their hand out for help could be considered the lucky ones (although it probably won’t feel like that at the time). 

It’s important to remember, despite the sense of isolation that addiction can create, you’re far from alone. Countless others have been in your shoes, feeling just as lost and powerless, and they’ve managed to create a life in recovery that is infinitely more wonderful than it was before (you’ll meet some of these people yourself). 

The initial discomfort of adjusting to a life without your substance of choice is a natural part of the healing journey. It probably won’t be easy at first, as the substances, or problematic behaviour that you’ve leaned on are no longer there for you. But know that this discomfort is temporary, and is expected. The rehab staff, many of whom have their own stories of recovery, are ready to support you with compassion and understanding from the moment you arrive.

During your first time in rehab, you can also expect to be challenged on the views you’ve held about your addiction, yourself, and perhaps how you see the world. These challenges come through the thoughtful guidance of experienced counsellors, both in one-to-one sessions and group therapy. It’s an essential step in shedding light on the thought patterns that fed into your addiction, and replacing them with healthier, more constructive beliefs. See this as an invaluable opportunity for personal development and change. 

Essential Must Knows for Choosing a Rehab 

Choosing the right rehab facility is an important decision in your path to recovery. We understand that navigating this choice can feel daunting, which is why we’re here to offer our support and guidance during this process. We also wish to arm you with the right factors to consider and what questions to ask when considering a rehab for your recovery journey. Some of those factors include:

The Treatment Model At the heart of every rehab is its treatment model, which will form the foundation of your recovery. Many rehabs, especially those that embrace the 12 Steps of Recovery as part of their treatment model, prioritise both a clinical and holistic approach to addiction treatment. This involves not just addressing the physical aspects of addiction, but also the emotional, spiritual, and mental health challenges that accompany it. It may be helpful to know that almost all 12 step rehabs use group therapy as a central part of their clinical programme. There has been much research conducted as to the efficacy of group therapy for addiction and it is widely used by all 12 step rehabs around the world.

The First Step The first step of the 12 step programme, which is to admit powerlessness and unmanageability in one’s life, is the most crucial that every client will face. Unfortunately, this step gets a bad wrap because it seems to be so ‘counterintuitive’, especially in this modern culture of self help and personal empowerment. Although this step may seem scary, it is simply an admission that all previous attempts to beat your addiction have failed and thus the solution to beat said addiction may not lie within yourself – that your current resources are simply not sufficient to recover. The solution actually lies in the remaining 11 steps. But we’ve found that the first is the hardest to accept, which is why choosing a 12 step rehab with clinical staff who are in recovery themselves is a wise decision. 

Client Numbers and Staff to Client Ratio The size of the rehab and the ratio of staff to clients are also important factors to consider. Smaller rehabs often offer a more intimate setting, which can be beneficial for those who prefer a more personal recovery experience. Larger facilities may provide a wider range of services and activities that can support your recovery journey. We will be able to provide some recommendations based on your personal preferences in this regard. 

Experience and Qualifications of the Clinical Staff The experience and qualifications of the clinical staff are, of course, an important factor when choosing a 12 step rehab. Look for facilities where staff have not only the professional qualifications but also a deep understanding of the recovery process, preferably from personal experience (as mentioned above). We’ve found that this makes a significant difference in the support and guidance they provide.

Other Personal Factors Your personal needs and circumstances should also guide your choice of rehab. For those seeking a specific environment, such as LGBTQ+ friendly, female-only centres, or facilities that accommodate certain dietary or religious practices, it’s important to ensure the rehab you choose can meet these needs. 

Choosing a rehab is about finding a place where you feel safe, supported, and understood. It’s a space where you can be vulnerable, challenge yourself – as well as allowing yourself to BE challenged –  and start laying the groundwork for a new life. By asking the right questions and considering these factors, you can find a rehab that aligns with your values and supports your journey to recovery.

Planning for Your Time Away: Practical Considerations

As you prepare for your admission to a treatment centre, addressing practical matters is essential for a smooth transition. The decision to seek help often comes with concerns about the responsibilities you’re leaving behind, especially regarding your loved ones and your professional life. It’s natural to feel apprehensive about stepping away from your daily life, but with some thoughtful planning, you can alleviate much of this stress.

Loved Ones While we acknowledge that every family unit is different, we have found that open communication with your family and close friends about your decision to enter rehab is often met with support and encouragement.  If you have caregiving responsibilities, it may be helpful to discuss arrangements for your absence. It is quite common for other family members or close friends to step up to help. Loved ones tend to acknowledge that seeking treatment not only benefits the person receiving it, but also the loved ones themselves. 

Employment & Business When it comes to your professional life, the approach to taking leave for rehab is a personal decision that requires careful consideration. We would recommend Familiarising yourself with your rights and the laws in your country regarding medical and personal leave. Many employers offer support for employees going through health challenges, including addiction recovery, but the specifics can vary widely and thus we cannot offer specific recommendations along these lines. 

Duration and Costs of Rehab When planning your inpatient treatment, it’s crucial to think about both the duration and costs involved. While clients have the option to choose varying lengths of stay based on their availability and budget, numerous studies suggest that longer stays—ranging from around 60 to 90 days—tend to produce better outcomes. Thus, clinical experts often recommend these extended treatment periods for more effective recovery. You may have heard of the concept of a 28-day stay in rehab. In fact, there was a film made on this very topic called ‘28-Days’. Indeed, the prevalence of the 28-day program can be traced back to historical insurance practices in the United States, influencing its widespread adoption. However, before 1960s and 1970s when this concept became popular, the standard treatment time for patients was, in fact, 90 days.  In terms of costs, the rehabs we endorse provide high-quality treatment for significantly less than similar programs in many Western countries. This affordability, along with a high standard of care, make these centres a compelling choice for those in search of an effective start to their recovery journey.

Items – What to Bring & What Not to Bring Packing for a stay in a 12 Step Rehab requires careful consideration to ensure you have everything you need for a comfortable and focused recovery journey, while also adhering to the centre’s guidelines on prohibited items. Below, we provide guidance on what to pack to support your therapeutic process and what to leave behind to maintain the integrity of the recovery environment. Please be aware that all centres will conduct a bag search upon admission. This may feel like an uncomfortable experience when it’s happening. But this is to keep the community safe from items that may cause harm. Items such as drugs, alcohol, drug paraphernalia will be confiscated by staff and will not be returned after their stay is complete. Again, this is for the safety of all clients. 

Appropriate Clothing for Your Stay Your clothing choices should reflect the activities you’ll be participating in during your stay, including therapy sessions, leisure time, and physical exercise. Opt for comfortable, casual clothing that you can layer, as temperatures and indoor/outdoor activities may vary. Include activewear for exercise or yoga sessions, as many rehabs incorporate physical wellness into their treatment programs. Also, consider bringing a swimsuit if the facility has a pool or if water therapy is part of the program. Remember, laundry facilities are typically available, so there’s no need to overpack.

Toiletries and Personal Hygiene Items While most rehabs provide basic toiletries, bringing personal items can help you feel more at home. Pack essentials such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and any skincare products you use daily. Please avoid products containing alcohol, like certain mouthwashes or perfumes, as they may not be permitted in the centre.

Nicotine (Cigarettes and Vapes) If you use tobacco products, check the rehab’s policy on smoking or vaping. Many centres have designated smoking areas and specific times when smoking is allowed. However, the use of vapes and e-cigarettes might be restricted or subject to certain rules. It’s essential to understand these guidelines before you arrive to ensure you can adhere to the centre’s policies comfortably. We will be able to advise you on smoking and vaping policies at the 12 step rehabs that we recommend. 

Phones and Devices We understand that mobile phones and other communication devices have become indispensable to most of us, serving not just as communication tools but also for work, leisure, and almost everything in between. Yet, upon entering a 12 Step rehab facility, it’s standard procedure to relinquish your mobile devices. This policy isn’t about punishment or deprivation; it’s about ensuring the safety and focus of both you and the community. Particularly for those grappling with addictions to social media, gambling, or gaming—a growing concern in recent times—the absence of such devices is crucial to start the healing process effectively. The community benefits, too, from this policy, as it minimises distractions, allowing everyone to concentrate fully on recovery. Common concerns often arise regarding this policy, particularly about staying in touch with family and managing work responsibilities. Most rehabs typically encourage keeping communication lines open with loved ones, and the best centres often integrate a Family Program into treatment to support this. As such, you can expect designated times to use your phone for calls, emails, and messages each week, ensuring you stay connected. When it comes to work, we encourage reflection on what adjustments can be made to ensure focus on recovery. It’s worth contemplating what you’re prepared to set aside in order to focus on treatment. 

Policies on phone use can vary by facility, so we recommend reaching out to us directly. This way, we can offer tailored advice and ensure you’re fully informed about the specific practices of the 12 Step rehab centres we endorse

FAQ & Common Concerns 

Embarking on the journey to rehab brings with it a multitude of concerns and questions, some of which can act as barriers to seeking the help needed. Among these, fears about the outcome of treatment often stand out.

What if it doesn’t work? This question haunts many contemplating rehab. The fear of failure or relapse post-rehab is a significant concern. It’s crucial to understand that recovery is a personal journey, unique to each individual. While there are no guarantees, the structured support and comprehensive treatment offered by 12 Step rehabs provide a solid foundation for long-term sobriety. Success often depends on one’s commitment to the program and willingness to engage in the process fully. Remember, every step towards recovery, even those that involve setbacks, is part of the journey towards healing.

What if it does work? Conversely, some fear the very success of rehab. What will life look like without the crutch of addiction? This fear often stems from the uncertainty of facing life’s challenges without substances. The prospect of change, while hopeful, can also be daunting. Rehab not only aims to help you live substance-free but also equips you with the tools to handle life on life’s terms, fostering personal growth and resilience. Embracing this change can open up new possibilities for a fulfilling life beyond addiction.

Addressing these concerns is part of preparing for rehab. Recognizing them as valid fears, yet not allowing them to deter you from seeking help, is a brave and necessary step towards recovery. Our team is here to discuss any worries you might have and provide the reassurance needed to take this life-changing step.

We hope you were able to get some value from our First time in Rehab guide. We aim to demystify the rehab experience, offer insights and practical advice to ensure you feel supported and informed from the moment you consider treatment to the day you walk through the rehab doors. 

Remember, the path to recovery is as unique as the individual walking it. While challenges are inevitable, the support, understanding, and care you’ll find in a rehab environment are invaluable tools on your journey.

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