Rehab 101

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Opinions/advice to those who are thinking of entering a drug/depression rehabilitation program for the first time. Things I wish I had known the first time I went to rehab and things I would beg people to think about or know about before committing themselves or a loved one to a rehab facility.

Submitted: November 28, 2007

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Submitted: November 28, 2007



Welcome to the down side of life, the problems, the issues, the need for help. Don't worry, I've been there. In fact I've been there three times, or to be more exact, at 30yrs old I've been to three different rehabs. With trial and error I found out some things I REALLY wish someone had told me before I entered any of those places.

I speak mainly here of drug/depression rehabs, not physical injury rehab. I also, of course, do not think ALL rehabs are bad or good...I just think patients have a right to make an informed choice. Here are a few things to do before you even think of giving money to anyone for any rehab.

1. Investigate, investigate, investigate! Though you may not be in the condition to do this, hopefully a family member or friend will help out. Remember, 90% of rehabs are FOR PROFIT. They make money from you while trying to help you. Thus, rehabs are somewhat like car sales, they will shine up anything to make you buy it, even if they know it's a lemon.

Case in point, I am not fond of AA or its methods. My main worry was going to a rehab that would try to force this program on me. I went to TWO rehabs that personally assured myself and my family that they did not use AA. Upon arriving at the rehabs, I discovered I was lied to and they tried to both force and threaten me into the classes. I later learned that ALL rehabs in the U.S. are expected to use AA,....and that I was lied to on purpose, no mistake was made. One director even had the guts to tell me "He knew once I arrived I would embrace the AA program." And boy was he wrong! Frankly if I could sue him I would, thats how betrayed I felt.

2. Visit, visit, visit! If at all possible, make sure you and your loved ones visit the facility before committing yourself there. Remember pictures can be deceiving! You need to see the actual place you will be staying. You need to actually see the rooms and kitchen and such. If possible, you need to speak to other patients and see what they think of the facility. Of course, take into account they may not want to be there, or may not be there by their own choice.

Case in point, I went to a rehab that was supposed to have a wonderful workout room. This was VERY important since some of my problems came from poor self esteem and alot of extra pounds. Upon arrival I discovered the workout room was located at a DIFFERENT facility and that the place I was at no longer went there. They instead used a covered porch with a concrete floor and no equipment as a workout room. A workout room we were NOT allowed to use but one hour once a week! Things went sharply downhill from there, revealing that only about half of their pamphlet was true.

3. Shop, shop, shop! Look for a rehab that fits YOU and your budget. Never just go to the first place you found. Make sure you look at all possible options before deciding on one. This can be one of the keys that helps determine if you will fail or succeed. Different rehabs can have VERY different schedules and theories, so make sure they fall in line with you as a person.

Now for some things to know for when you actually enter rehab.

1. Everyone else is crazy too! Remember, other patients at the facility have problems too. So don't take their initial behavior towards you personally, remember they have demons on their backs as well. Other patients can be a great means of support, but don't be too trusting. Again, you are all there because you are having troubles. So expecting another troubled person to take on all your grief and problems will backfire,...because eventually they will be overwhelmed with your personal problems as well as theirs. I cannot begin to tell of all the people I know who found their "best friend" in rehab, and then didn't understand what happened when that "best friend" screwed them over. Not that this is always true, it is just really likely.

Case in point, I became friendly with people in my first rehab, and we had a little reunion at someones house a month after we had all "graduated" from the facility. Two of the people there ended up stealing decorations, food, and electronics from the home. Another person lost his temper and smashed three windows. Two months ago a friend of mine invited her "new best friend" to live with her and her two sons after they met in rehab. My friend was then so upset and confused when the girl tried to commit suicide while babysitting the two boys. I've yet to figure out why she would let someone who was in rehab for repeated suicide attempts babysit her sons, much less be surprised she tried to kill herself again. Just use some common sense!

2. Be prepared for alot of "under the table" sexual issues going on. One of the most surprising thing I discovered in rehab was just how many of the patients were boinking other patients. That was the one thing I liked about an "all girls" rehab I went to, the sex problem was mostly erased. It makes sense, when men who are vulnerable and having problems, are living with women who are vulnerable and having problems, the two tend to hook up. It doesn't matter if the facility doesn't tolerate such things, I've found that people will always find a way! In the elevator, or bathroom, or "on a walk", there is alot of sex going on! And there seems to always be at least one rehab worker who will let them get away with it, and one is all you need! With all the insecurities and issues going on, my personal advice is NEVER have sex with someone while in rehab, are there for more important things!

3. Have some hobbies picked out! There is always going to be down time, time when you have no meetings or classes, time when you have nothing to do. Watching tv and movies (or reading) is the main thing people do in this down time. But I've found that if you sit in front of the TV for a couple hours, the distraction fades and you start thinking about all your problems. So good rehabs try to have "hobby" activities you can do. Most have art/crafts type of things, which worked great for me. But if you play a musical instrument or are an avid bird watcher, and so on,....bring the stuff with you that you will need to pursue this hobby. Don't have any hobbies but always wanted to try to learn how to roller skate? Well this is the time to give it a try! Mainly because this will occupy both your mind AND your hands (or feet as the case may be)! Being engaged in something both mentally and physically can be a great help in whittling away those boring hours of newfound sobriety.

4. Try not to hold back from your counselors. It is always ten times better to give them too much information rather than too little. The more they know about you, the more they will be able to help you. It is certainly hard to meet a stranger, sit down, and tell them all your deep, dark secrets.....but it is something you just have to try to do. You might feel there are certain things you can handle yourself, but hey, if you've ended up in rehab, you haven't been handling them very well so far, have you?

5. If you smoke cigarettes, DO NOT give up smoking before entering rehab! Most good rehabs will tell you this directly. You are going to be going thru a very hard time in your life. You are probably going to be giving up some substance you have been abusing to help deal with those problems. Though quitting smoking will be great for you one day, today is not the day. The added stress of quitting is too much for most people. The added stress of losing one abused support (cigarettes) while trying to give up a main abused support (example,..alcohol) just sets you up for an overload. Tie one demon down and get it out of your life before tackling the other too. I know some people may do better giving up all demons at once, but most of us don't.

6. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself! You are going to be doing alot of things you don't like, as well as talking about alot of things you don't want to talk about. And you are just going to have to do them. BUT, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself when something is truly wrong or not working. You are a confused, troubled person, yes. But you are still a person. You are going to HAVE to concede some rights to be in rehab and actually get help. You have to understand that. Just be wary of where the line is between what you need to do but don't want to, and what is actually harmful to you. If that line is crossed, don't be afraid to say so.

So these are the main points I think people need to know when faced with committing themselves or a loved one to a drug/depression rehab. The things I wish so very much I had known about $120,000 ago......

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