Starting a drug or alcohol rehab program is the first step toward recovering from your addiction and leading a healthy, sober life. To make the most of your time in rehab, it helps to go in with the right mindset. Here are some tips that can help you prepare for your program. You can also refer back to them while you're there.
1. Remember why you are there
It's easy to forget why you came to rehab when you're feeling bad, physically or mentally. Stay focused on the reasons you need sobriety when you feel like giving up.
2. Ask questions
The rehab experience should be a daily learning process. Don't be afraid to ask questions, big and small, so that you understand what you need to know and do while you're there.
3. Be present
Stay in the moment and focus on what is happening right now instead of worrying about what life will be like when your program ends.
4. Follow the rules (even if you don't like them)
It can be tough for an addict to follow the rules. But this is a great place to learn how to manage your own behavior and maintain good relationships with people around you. Your rehab experience will be much more positive if you're not causing problems for other people.
5. Be patient
There's no finish line in addiction recovery. It's a life-long journey. Give yourself (and the people around you) the freedom to grow at your own pace so you don't set yourself up for failure.
6. Be willing to get better
Be willing to make changes in your life and within yourself. Sometimes you have to renegotiate this moment by moment. But a sustained willingness leads to sustained recovery.
7. Make time for yourself
Take 5, 15 or 30 minutes to journal or reflect on your day, your feelings and your progress. Using this time will help you process your thoughts and feelings. A few minutes of meditation can also be very soothing and revealing.
8. Keep an open mind
Be open to learning more about yourself and what caused you to need rehab. Remaining open to the suggestions of people who are there to help will increase your ability to see things differently, see yourself honestly and make new choices that will improve your life.
9. Accept that you need help
There can be a tendency to have an inner conflict during sobriety, especially during early sobriety, about many or all aspects of your life. Accept that you are in this situation because you need help. Whatever the duration of your program, accept that you have made this commitment to yourself.
10. Commit to the program
This is the only opportunity many people will have to spend time away from "real life" to focus on themselves, their growth and their healing without the distractions of work, relationships, family and other obligations. Your time in rehab is a tiny fraction of your life, so commit to follow through with it.
11. Learn to be honest
Dishonesty is a natural manifestation of addiction. In almost every case, the addiction cannot be sustained without dishonesty. Begin with yourself and with the people around you, in this space for growth, to let go of the need to lie, manipulate or deceive. Healing begins from a place of honesty.
12. Don't expect a "quick fix"
There is no "quick fix" to substance abuse treatment. The treatment program will offer suggestions and opportunities to discuss what you're going through, but you have to do the work. No one can do it for you.
13. Prepare for good days and bad days
You'll have ups and downs in rehab. That's life, and it's certainly the beginning of sobriety. Some days may feel absolutely unbearable—like the worst days you've ever had. But other days will feel good or at least better, and you'll see progress.
14. Do some advance preparation for therapy
- Jot down some topics. Make notes of topics and situations that cause you anxiety, anger, depression, fear or make it difficult for you to live sober. This way, you'll know what you want to discuss, and you can make the best use of your time with the therapist and other rehab professionals.
- Find out how often your appointments are. Ask the staff for an appointment to meet with the therapist and remind them until your first appointment. Then speak to the therapist about how often you can expect to see them so you can be prepared to discuss important topics one-on-one.
15. Be friendly
Especially to staff, the chef and those who are successful. Seek a friend or a mentor, someone who inspires you.
Print the Tips
Get a PDF of the tips that you can print and take with you to rehab.Download
No one said rehab would be easy. But if you keep these tips in mind as you work through your program, you can start to focus on your recovery and begin the path toward a new life free of drugs and alcohol.
Read more about rehab and recovery:
- Forum Discussion: Start Living in Recovery
- What to Expect During Your First 12-Step Meeting
- 5 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Group Therapy
You Only Get One Body - Get Clean & Sober