To many people, being admitted to a rehab/treatment center is a choice that the person who has admitted has made, and is a choice based on the knowledge that their life has become at some level unmanageable enough for them to need help.
This is obviously true to a point, although if there has been an intervention than any real sense of choice will not have been theirs.
The reality is that someone who is an alcoholic has long lost any sense of choice about whether they drink or not, and about most other areas of their life that they have any little control over.
Being admitted to a rehab is probably the end of a long line of coping mechanisms, both emotional and financial that the alcoholic has had to make in order to survive.
These are not real choices, in the sense that the person has the freedom to choose between certain options depending on their preferences.
The sense of having a choice is something that can take a long time to really seep into someone’s recovery.
A rehab/treatment center will likely have a very rigid timetable from early morning to late evening of how and in-patients life is to be structured.
It is a common feature in a rehab that the timetabling of someone’s day gives it a sense of structure and a sense of security that is important to the persons recovery.
The thinking behind this is that at point of entry to a rehab/treatment center, the life of the alcoholic is so out of control both literally and emotionally that having a sense of structure gives a sense of order.
Virtually every rehab/treatment center takes this approach and believes it helps the recovery process. Even within this fairly strict structure in a rehab, the alcoholic will have a number of choices they can make about their life and what they do with it.
They may or may not have a number of actual choices about how they spend their time in rehab, or how much of the therapeutic work they do which will make a difference to their recovery.
They will have a choice about is whether they stay in a rehab or not once there, and how much they participate in the various programs that are available to them in a rehab, as a way of getting and staying sober.
A rehab/treatment center will very early on make clear that alcoholism is an illness and that the actions of an alcoholic of the actions of someone who was ill.
This is not to absolve the alcoholic of responsibility for their action,s far from it – it is a context, based ona reality that a rehab will be able to present to the alcoholic that will allow them to begin the process of owning their drinking behaviour, and begin to recover from it.
Suffering from an illness and being able to recover from it is not a choice in the normal meaning of the word
However a rehab does give an alcoholic time and space to begin to understand the nature of their illness and the nature of recovery.
Once that reality has been embedded in the alcoholic by a rehab, then there is a much greater sense of choice as to whether the alcoholic stays sober or decides to carry on drinking.
At some level that is out of their control, owing to the nature of the illness, on the other hand a time in rehab should give the person some sense of clarity and an awareness of reality that does begin to give them real choices.