If you’re considering starting recovery from addiction, chances are that inpatient rehab has been recommended to you. It’s what most people associate with recovery. It has almost become a trope in television shows, movies, and books. Characters struggling with substance use disorder go to rehab. This is one case where media really does reflect life. Inpatient rehab is gold standard for addiction treatment.
But why is this the case? People struggling with most mental illnesses don’t usually go straight into institutions. Why should substance use disorder be any different?
The nature of addiction makes rehab not just ideal but necessary for many people. Here’s why.
The nature of addiction
The very nature of addiction is that external triggers lead to urges and cravings, which inevitably lead the individual to use their substance of choice. Unlike depression and anxiety, for example, the unhealthy habit feels like a solution at the time. Without removing yourself from the environment in which the triggers exist, you’ll have a very difficult time beating the cravings. And while you are still using the substance, any treatment is unlikely to be effective.
But inpatient rehab is not just effective because it keeps you from using substances.
A safe space for growth
Inpatient rehab provides an opportunity most people never get. It is a safe space for you to focus entirely on your own personal growth. In general, self-improvement is seen as a lesser priority in relation to work and family commitments. But in rehab, your commitments are mainly to yourself.
It is for this reason that many recovering addicts view their time in inpatient rehab as one of the most productive, fulfilling periods of their lives. While in rehab, you will get to spend time working on yourself without the constant risk of relapse, away from your triggers, and without distraction.
Not only do you learn new ways of coping through therapy and training, but you get to practice them before having to implement them in the “real world.” You thereby build your skills and resilience before having to face your toughest tests.
In fact, even with illnesses like depression and anxiety, inpatient treatment is ideal. Most individuals prefer to try treating their illnesses while continuing their day-to-day lives, but those who spend time in a facility working on themselves are more likely to reach a healthy state of self-actualisation, grateful for the opportunity to focus on self-growth.
Addiction is also best treated in inpatient rehab because you become part of a community. Group therapy is a fundamental part of addiction treatment, and community is what keeps many people sober or clean. This is for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it shows you that you are not alone. There are many others like you who struggle with addiction, and many more who have managed to recover. Being able to see others with the same problems helps you get past some of the self-incrimination. You’re not the only person to make mistakes and get caught in the addiction spiral.
Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to change your relationship patterns. You learn to relate to people in healthier ways, without the codependence often generated by addiction. You learn to implement boundaries, supporting others without taking on their problems or burdening them with yours.
Finally, it gives you a foundation of support, secure in the knowledge that there are people rooting for you to succeed, who will be there for guidance when you need it.
Find what works for you
The best inpatient rehabs provide a range of different recovery modules. You will have access to group and individual therapy, mindfulness training, occupational therapy, and more . Rather than having to choose one approach and place all your hopes on it, you get various treatments, with the chance to discover what works for you and what does not.
Ideally, a combination of all of the approaches is most useful. By the time you leave inpatient rehab, you’ll have a full toolkit with all the resources possible for keeping yourself on track.
Furthermore, it’s not just the addiction itself that needs to be treated. Addiction affects you both physically and mentally, and the healthier you are, the more likely you are to succeed. Inpatient rehab gives you access to dietitians who can work with you to improve your health through nutrition, physical therapists who can work with you to improve your health through exercise, and mental health specialists who can work with you to improve your mental wellbeing.
Addiction is often considered a family illness because it affects whole families. Relationships become dysfunctional, and end up perpetuating the cycle of addiction. In this environment, it is very difficult to stay sober or clean. During inpatient rehab you can learn how to implement boundaries and transform your relationships. This can be done in family therapy, with your family present, as well as in individual therapy, where you can identify the patterns which lead to the most issues.
Preparation for outpatient programs
Outpatient treatment can be effective, with excellent programs available at the best centers. However, these programs are most effective when you already have a good understanding of the skills being strengthened. You will leave inpatient rehab with experience in group and individual therapy, mindfulness training, and much more. Outpatient programs become supplementary, rather than having to teach you everything from scratch.
Recovery is an ongoing process and does not end when you leave inpatient rehab. However, you will be best-placed to succeed, with a toolkit full of resources for dealing with triggers, managing crises, and maintaining your sobriety.
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