August 31, 2015
Taking the step to enroll in drug or alcohol addiction treatment is huge and marks a pivotal point in your life.
While simply attending will certainly help, the more active role you play in your own recovery, the more likely it is that you will make demonstrable progress during your time in treatment. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience:
- Speak up in group meetings. The more you participate in group sessions and share your story, the more you will benefit from your relationships with other participants and with the therapist leading the group. Share whatever you want as long as it is honest, supportive of others in the group, or said in the interest of seeking support or learning more about addiction and recovery. When you take an active part in group therapy, you not only benefit from what others have experienced in their journey toward recovery, but you benefit from being able to support others and give them the gift of your experience as well.
- Trust your personal therapist. One of the cornerstones of recovery is the personal relationship you develop with the therapist you meet with individually. When you are able to trust your therapist, you may feel more comfortable discussing some of the more difficult experiences, behaviors, or thought processes that may be of concern. This helps you to take the first step toward addressing those issues, and you may be more open to the suggestions made to help you further your progress in recovery. If for some reason you do not feel comfortable with your therapist, don’t be shy about discussing the issue. The therapy space is safe for you to talk about anything that is on your mind.
- Ask for what you need. You have a voice in your recovery, and if you feel that there is something that will help you to feel comfortable in treatment, or if there is a certain direction you would like to take in terms of treatment goals, you are welcome to ask questions and open the discussion about your options.
- Keep an open mind. Your therapist may offer some suggestions as may other participants — all with the goal of helping you expand your horizons and make some changes in how you perceive the world and your place in it. It can feel unfamiliar at first, but with an open mind, you may find that these new options are exactly what you need to make great strides in creating a new life for yourself in sobriety.
- Discuss any interpersonal issues right away. Everyone enrolled in drug and alcohol rehab is going through great change, addressing difficult issues in their lives, and facing the unknown. It’s natural that there may be some conflict of interest along the way — clashes in personality that result in argument or uncomfortable dynamics. If that happens to you, don’t be afraid to discuss the issue with a staff member. Get a neutral third party involved to help you to resolve any argument and improve communication between you and others in treatment.
- Connect with others in recovery. Making connections on a personal level with peers who are going through some of the same issues you are facing can make it easier for you to feel comfortable in treatment and manage cravings for drugs and alcohol. Building a therapeutic community is another cornerstone in a strong recovery. It will empower you to avoid isolation and increase your support system from the very beginning.
- Practice mindfulness. Being present and in the moment is a skill, something that takes daily practice to master. It means being grateful for what’s in front of you and not spending too much time living in past regrets or harmful experiences — or worrying about the future. It means avoiding judgment of what other people say or do, and instead just allowing them to be what they are. It also means not judging yourself for choices you made in the past. Staying grounded in the present moment can be one of your greatest tools in avoiding relapse and managing cravings, and it should start during treatment when you have the support of therapists to assist you.
- Give yourself the space and time to heal. You have been through a lot. Addiction is a chronic disease, and it is taxing on the mind, body, and spirit. There are many issues that can develop during drug and alcohol addiction, and it can take some time to work through those issues and make the changes that are necessary. Allow yourself the space to begin the healing process and the gift of focusing on nothing else until you feel stable in recovery.
- Identify your triggers. There are things that may make you begin to crave drugs or alcohol more strongly, and those things will be different for everyone. For some, it is watching movies where people are drinking or getting high. For others, it is spending time with people they used to drink or get high with or going to bars or clubs. Taking time to identify what makes you feel more like relapse will help you to create a more informed plan for recovery when you leave treatment.
- Make a plan for addressing triggers without relapse. Create an actionable plan to help you manage triggers without relapse and practice them while you’re in treatment. When you return home, your response will be second nature when you feel the urge to drink or get high.