Everyone has some sort of idea of what residential drug treatment is like. We’ve all seen TV series and movies in which the protagonist spends time in rehab, to varying levels of success. In most cases, the rehab isn’t the main focus, but is rather a driver of the plot. Because of this, representations of rehabs are not generally accurate. Most of the time, they’re not even close.
So what is residential drug treatment really like? Let’s take a look at what you should be expecting.
A Happy Environment
You probably expect rehab to be one of the most difficult periods of your life. A time during which you have to give up the things you enjoy and spend hours regretting your mistakes. The reality is almost the opposite.
After you have detoxed from substances, you will find that residential drug treatment is quite a happy environment. Every resident has made mistakes and is dealing with a lot of uncertainty, shame, and regret. However, because you’re in a place where you can openly face these feelings, they don’t have the same debilitating effect on you. You can feel shame and regret knowing that you’re trying to do better. You can accept the uncertainty, knowing that while you are in rehab, your needs are taken care of.
During groups, you get to know your fellow residents better than most people in your life. When you have free time together, you spend your hours chatting and becoming friends. Everyone in rehab has made some of the mistakes you’ve made, and it is therefore an environment where you can view each other without judgment. You get to be candid and reflect on your past with some more perspective, and friends who understand you.
There are plenty of scenes in TV shows and movies where a character, sitting in a group, makes an impromptu speech, belittling the rehab process by sharply pointing out all its flaws. They walk out with the group unsure how to continue, led by a flabbergasted counselor.
This does not happen in real life! Counselors in rehab are well-trained and empathetic. They are often individuals who previously struggled with addiction. Therefore, they will understand and relate to you if you express your doubts or anger about rehab. They have seen a lot of people come and go, with such vastly different stories that little surprises them. Stories that do surprise them are heard with interest and empathy, rather than shock and horror.
Staff at residential drug treatment centers do not take challenges personally. They themselves may well have expressed the same feelings in the past. Rather than trying to “convert” residents to their way of thinking, they will always hear you out and help you come to a better understanding of yourself and what you need.
Another trope we often see in media is people who don’t want to be in rehab and are just waiting to be discharged to go back to their substance of choice. When leaving, they say something like “See you in a month,” knowing they’ll be back soon.
In real life, most people in rehab are there by choice. They can leave at any time if they want to. Unless someone is ordered by a court to go to rehab, no one can make them stay. The reason they’re in rehab is usually because life could not go on without some sort of change. Residents don’t want to leave until they feel ready to live life without relapsing.
You probably feel this way. One or more aspects of your life – whether family, financial, legal, or anything else – has collapsed or is on the verge of collapsing. You need to recover or things will only get worse.
Every other person present is going through something similar. They’re not going to be undermining your process, but rather empathizing with you the way no one else can.
Positive and Relaxed
For this reason, staff at residential drug treatment centers don’t walk around policing residents as if they’re inmates. There are rules you’ll need to follow to ensure everyone has the opportunity to recover. However, you are expected to follow these rules out of your own personal commitment, and because they’re not at all oppressive.
Rehab is about a positive process of learning to approach life in a new, healthy way. It is certainly not about negative reinforcement or punitive measures. You will build a rapport with the staff, developing relationships that foster growth and productivity.
Only those who are harming other residents or causing severe disruptions are likely to face warnings and potentially be told to leave.
Various Approaches to Recovery
Many people expect all residential drug treatment centers to follow a 12 Step approach. The 12 Step Program, developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, has indeed become the flagship way of treating addiction. However, it is not the only way, and even in centers which use the 12 Step Program, other tools and methods supplement your recovery.
Addiction is a complex disease, and it is different for everyone. While certain treatments seem to work for most people, there are other options. This is often especially important for those who struggle with the “Higher Power” mentioned in the 12 Steps or those who have tried the program but have not found it helpful.
Residential Drug Treatment
Residential drug treatment may seem like a frightening proposition, but it is actually a positive step that you are likely to enjoy. You will find a welcoming environment where you are encouraged to make friends, grow, and express whatever you are feeling.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact us today for help.