The anxiety of going to rehab was always bigger than the anxiety of not going, but maybe knowing what to expect can alleviate some of that terror.
No one wants to go to rehab. Of course most, but not all, people who go to rehab want to stop using. They want to stop the cycle of insanity and pain, they want control of their lives again, they want to regain the trust of their loved ones, they don’t want to be scared anymore, and they don’t want to die.
But none of that means they want to go to rehab. They want to do all that without going to rehab. Of course, there are some people who have been to rehab numerous times. For them, going back to rehab, while not pleasant, is not something that they may actively dread, or even fear.
But if you are like me, and for your sake I truly hope that you are not, the thought of going to rehab is somewhat terrifying. I have been to a few rehabs in my time—and at this point in my life, I am fairly sure I will not be going to one again—but I can still remember how afraid I was of going the first time. The anxiety of going to rehab was always bigger than the anxiety of not going. Until one day it wasn’t anymore, and I went.
The fear of the unknown is always greater than the fear of what is known. So if you have never been, here are 10 things you don’t know about rehab. While all of these are not true for every rehab, I have talked to enough rehab veterans to know that most of them are.
10. They are going to go through your stuff
This is how it begins. You get to the rehab and you wait somewhere for a bit, your mind filled with anxiety and dread. Just when you think you might still be able to change your mind and bail, someone empties out your bag in front of you to make sure you don’t have any contraband. This is where it really clicks in. In just a few moments, you have gone from someone who thought he was totally cool to someone who is having his bag dumped out on a table while some guy you just met pats down all of your clothes, and confiscates your cellphone and your nail clippers. While I have not experienced this, some places make you strip down for a search as well.
9. Any sort of freedom takes time
For the first week, you have no freedom at all. You aren’t going to be able to make or receive phone calls for a while. That comes later. In fact, for the first week you are going to be pretty much restricted in everything. After a week or two, you can make calls; guys that have been around longer might be able to roam around the grounds or even walk to a local store in a group, but you are going to have to stay on the porch or some other restricted area. One step in the wrong direction and you become even more restricted. Many of us addicts are the consummate rule breakers, and all of a sudden you are in an environment where rules are everywhere. When you look at it from the outside it makes sense, but when it’s happening to you in the moment it’s a total drag, to say the least.
8. Who you hang out with is important
As a newbie, you can usually see right away that there are a few distinct groups of people that you are going to rehab with. One group is going to remind you of the people you hung out with on the outside, while the other group is going to remind you of people you used to make fun of. It is tempting to hang out with the dudes that make you laugh, that know the ropes a bit, and that get away with things. But try to remember something. You aren’t here to look cool. You are here to get yourself together. Who you hang out with matters.
7. The food will be better than you think
This all depends on where you go, of course. But one of the big surprises to me and others I talked to was that the food was actually pretty decent. When you are in rehab, small pleasures mean a lot. The food, while not fine dining quality, was still good enough that meals were something I looked forward to. Read more “the fix”…