Going into rehab can seem quite scary. Knowing a bit about it first can make it much easier.
Most people have probably heard the phrase ‘going into rehab’ or ‘going to Alcoholics Anonymous ‘ and may have some idea of what it means.
When it comes to actually getting help for someone who has a drink or drug problem, it can seem a pretty daunting process.
It is important to know that there are no right or wrong treatment options, but there are a number of different routes open to people, all of which can be worth looking at.
For most of us, recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction is a lifelong process and getting help at the beginning can happen in a number of different ways.
For some people it is a residential rehab, for others it is some type of day treatment center, others go straight to meetings of AA / NA.
These are some of the questions to ask, which can help make understanding the whole process, and choosing a rehab, much easier.
What happens in a Rehab
A rehab should have two specific functions, one short term and one long term.
The short term a is to help the person come off drink or drugs in a safe and controlled manner, and begin the process of stabilising them.
This can sometimes involve a detox, but is mainly focused on practical and psychological help in the first few days/weeks of sobriety.
The longer term ambition is one that runs alongside this process.
It is to help the person begin to understand the nature of their alcoholism/addiction, and to see recovery as a lifelong process.
The time spent in rehab should be dealing with immediate or pressing issues, and at the same time laying the foundation for dealing with longer term underlying causes and conditions.
There are different types of rehabs and treatment centres.
The majority are residential, with a normal stay being about four weeks or so, although some do offer longer-term options.
There are also a significant number of rehabs that work as non-residential rrecovery units, normally offering some type of daytime and evening treatment programs.
These non-residential rehabs often work alongside a huge number of government and voluntary services, that can provide advice and help.
Residential rehabs and treatment centers will normally have a very definite structure for the time their client is there, and this is normally seen as a integral part of their treatment.
This can be an important area to research beforehand, to make sure the structure and approach of the rehab is the most appropriate for the person involved.
Having a drink problem goes by different names, most commonly alcoholism, alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse etc.
It does not really matter what you call it, but if drink is costing someone more than money, they have a problem.
Rehabs and treatment centers grew out of a need to help people overcome a drink problem, and rebuild their lives afterwards. Dealing with alcoholism is still at the forefront of most of the work that they do.
Coming off alcohol is a process that needs to be dealt with very carefully, and a rehab should have sufficient clinical expertise to be able to manage this in a safe and effective manner.
This is especially true if a person has been addicted to any type of drugs or other substances as well.
Many rehabs base their approach to treatment on the principles of the AA 12-step program, and many have close links with Alcoholics Anonymous itself.
Any type of drug addiction can be devastating, for the individual themselves and for those around them.
It is important that the rehab has experience in different types of drug addiction, as the withdrawal process can be quite complex, and needs to be handled very sensitively.
Many drug rehabs will list the various drugs on their website that they most commonly deal with, and this is especially important regarding any detox that may be needed.
It is important to stress that drug addiction applies equally to prescription drugs as well as non-prescription or illegal substances.
The rebuilding process following any withdrawal/detox will be fairly similar to the approach taken to dealing with alcohol and other substances or addictions.
At a practical level, it can often be really important to change the physical location of where the individual has been using, in order to give them a safe place to make necessary changes.
If this is considered necessary, then the physical location of the rehab should be taken into account.
Addiction Treatment Programs
A rehab or treatment centre will offer a number of addiction treatment programs, which act as the focus for their recovery based solutions for alcohol and drug addiction.
These programs can be applied to anyone with any type of addiction, and tend to relate to helping the individual at a therapeutic and psychological level.
Much of the work with the individual is done either on a one to one basis, or in various group settings.
Traditionally, rehabs used the principles of the first five steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, although interpreted differently from how AA developed them.
Whilst this is stil often the case, most rehabs and treatment centers stress the fact that their approach to recovery is based on current clinical evidence of the most effective forms of treatment.
This allows them to address, at least in the short term, many underlying mental health issues that may lie behind any type of alcoholism or addiction.
Nutrition / Fitness
A large part of helping someone rebuild their life when recovering from alcoholism or addiction, is also physical in nature.
A rehab should place some emphasis on the fact that the individual is likely to have either abused their body, or neglected basic nutrition and hygiene as a consequence of their drinking or using, and this needs to be repaired.
A rehabs should take into account specific dietary requirements of all individuals entering recovery, as well as applying healthy dietry principles throughout the center.
They should also have an understanding of how the body physically needs to be rebuilt, and this should be reflected in the type and nature of nutrition and diet that is offered to people on an individual basis.
A rehab could also put some focus on fitness and exercise.
This does vary considerably within the industry, but most will offer some basic forms of therapeutic types of exercise such as yoga or tai chi.
Some treatment centers make a selling point of their outdoor activities, ranging from long mountain walks through to more extreme types of gruelling activity, on land, sea and air.
Most types of exercise that are offered at rehab tend to be fairly voluntary, but they are an important part of recovery and should be utilised wherever possible.
An important part of entering a rehab is getting prepared for what happens when the person leaves.
This might seem a bit strange, but is a crucial part of getting ready to resume normal mainstream life.
Most treatment centres recognise this as a crucial element of their program, and will start to prepare people almost from the beginning for what happens when they leave.
Support groups tend to act at two different levels. Many rehabs will have their own specific support systems for when people leave.
This normally involves some type of after care that is available for as long as people want it. This can involve regular meetings at the facility itself, and telephone or online support as well.
The other type of support group that is normally encouraged are the fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous and associated 12 step groups.
Most rehabs encourage participation in these organisations, both while the individual is in treatment and once they have left.
Many rehabs will either take residents to AA meetings in the locality where they are based, or will have AA meetings on site on a weekly basis.
Individuals will be encouraged to spend time with people who are in recovery, who either visit the rehab or in many cases will work there in some capacity as well.
Counselling / Therapy
Counselling and therapy are considered an integral part of most addiction treatment programs, although the nature of this work will vary considerably.
Given that people’s time in treatment is normally fairly short, the type of such counselling and therapy may be less structured than would normally be the case.
Often this work is done on a one to one basis in either a formal or informal way, and there is normally quite a strong emphasis on different types of group work as well.
Christian / Catholic Rehabs
For understandable reasons, some people want a specific Christian rehab, and there are also some people who want a specific Catholic rehab.
These certainly exist, but may take a bit more research to locate, and may be some distance from where any individual is currently based.
It is worth being slightly cautious about rehabs that promote themselves as being specifically Christian.
While many are perfect genuine in this regard, there are some who see it as an opportunity to recruit members to larger evangelical churches.
This can have the unfortunate effect of taking advantage of an individual’s vulnerability because of their addiction, and could be considered highly unethical.
These so called Christian rehabs are normally associated with larger churches. They often fund the treatment itself, and will give the individual a much longer stay in the facility, often up to 6 or 9 months.
Catholic rehabs will normally have a very specific focus, based on Catholic faith and experience This may well include other types of therapeutic approaches, including 12-step programs.
Some Catholic rehabs will be specifically designed for priests and other religious who have developed an alcohol or drug addiction.
Their anonymity and privacy is often deemed paramount, and if these types of treatment center are required, it may be necessary to locate them through the local church authorities.
Non 12 Step Rehabs
As alcohol and drug rehabs grew out of and based themselves on the model of Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12 step program, an increasing number of people rejected this as an approach to dealing with their addiction, and looked for alternatives.
In response to this, a number of treatment centers grew up that were specifically non 12 step based, but who do offer various types of addiction treatment programs.
Some of these programs will be quite similar to those offered by traditional rehabs, but will completely omit references to any type of God or higher power, will have no connection to 12 step groups, and may embrace some alternative models of recovery.
Rehabs by Geography
There are literally tens of thousands of rehabs and treatment centers throughout the United States and the rest of the world.
Whilst it should not be the primary consideration, the physical location of a rehab can play an important part in someone’s recovery.
For some people it is crucially important to get away from where they have been living, even for a few weeks to begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
For other people they want the rehab or treatment center to be close to where they live, for reasons that are either do with work or family.
Both approaches are perfectly ok, as practical considerations should be taken into account as well as considering therapeutic and financial options.
Sober Living Homes / Transitional Living
Sober living homes, sometimes referred to as transitional living arrangements have equally been around for a long period of time.
Some homes are owned by rehabs or treatment centers, others are completely independent.
There is a wide range of different types of sober living but most will be based on a number of fairly basic principles.
The main idea is usually to provide a safe place where people who have been through some type of rehab or treatment can continue their journey of recovery in a more structured way than would otherwise be the case if they returned to their previous way of life.
Sober living homes are an option for a number of people.
Consideration for this will normally be a part of someone’s assessment during their time in a rehab, and treatment centers will generally have sufficient contacts in order to pursue this avenue if the individual so requires it.