A Rehab and Hope
Being able to give someone a sense of hope that is based on reality is perhaps in many ways the greatest gift that you can give to someone. Someone entering a rehab, however grim their situation may be, is likely to have lost most, if not all hope about themselves and their lives.
A rehab, for most people is the end of the road, not the beginning of a new one. An alcoholic will at some point in their drinking probably come to believe that alcohol is the only thing that is really holding them together. Alcohol will give an alcoholic hope.
This may be hope based on an illusion, but to many an alcoholic it is better than their perceived reality. When alcohol gives an alcoholic hope, it becomes a need they cannot let go of. Hence their sense of denial, their need to protect alcohol, and their perceived loss of control of their life.
A rehab, if it is to do any good for either the alcoholic or their families must address two definitive issues. Firstly is to understand that alcohol gives an alcoholic hope. That the journey of progression of alcoholism is not simply about drinking, but is about the sense that at some level an alcoholic believes alcohol is the only thing that keeps them alive.
That is the importance of hope to an alcoholic. A rehab must realise, both at an institutional level and by the attitudes of its staff, that this is the core element or at least a core element of someone’s alcoholism.
The main thing a rehab must do is to allow an alcoholic to own or acknowledge that need or perceived hope that alcohol has given them. A rehab must give an alcoholic space both literally and figuratively to make a transition from the realisation that this is a false sense of hope, to a place where they can begin to rebuild their lives both internally and externally.
This sense of rebuilding is obviously a very long-term process, but one of the main things a rehab can do is to give an alcoholic a sense of hope based on reality. A large part of that depends on an alcoholic feeling safe enough in a rehab to begin to own the reality of their own life.
A rehab must be able to hold a place where an alcoholic can both look back and validate where they have come from, and realise there is a way out, a route to a future life that is better. This sense of a better life based on the reality of understanding, or beginning to understand their alcoholism, is what can genuinely give them a sense of hope.
It is always potentially a bit dangerous to talk about other people’s needs. A rehab needs to address a number of important issues in the recovery process for any alcoholic. What actually gives a person hope may differ hugely between people, but one important element is the realisation that an alcoholic can change their inner world. This realisation, either in a rehab or after someone has left a rehab, is absolutely key.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the major ones is that it will at some level connect them to their own inner voice, their own inner truth. This realisation may come after someone has left a rehab, but the time spent in a rehab can play a major part in contributing to this.
Hope is essential. Alcohol, for many an alcoholic has given them a sense of hope perhaps most of their lives. Many will see going into a rehab as being the final place where they lose hope.
Perhaps one of the most important things a rehab can do is to own that, acknowledge their sense of reality, and begin to point them in a direction that will allow them to own their past, whilst at the same time rebuilding for their future, both internally and externally.