Individuals who have spent time within alcohol rehabilitation programs know that those first 28 days are only the beginning of a life spent in recovery. For alcoholics who are looking to conquer their demons for the first time with a stay in rehab, it’s important to know what to expect in the first few days so as to make the most of the time spent within the facility and to reduce chances of relapse.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that there are approximately 18 million adults in the United States who suffer from alcoholism, or who may have problems with alcohol. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration suggests that in 2011 alone, there were over 117K visits to the emergency room by adults due to problems with alcohol and alcohol poisoning.
Unfortunately, a very low percentage of individuals with an acknowledged alcohol addiction ever seek treatment and for those who do, the process is one filled with misconceptions and false impressions. When deciding to spend time in an alcohol rehabilitation facility, it’s vital to know what to expect at that facility. It’s also essential to understand that the recovery process takes time and that a person won’t be “cured” after just a few days in treatment.
Free to Leave at Any Time
One of the most surprising elements of standard alcohol rehabilitation treatment centers is that individuals who check in voluntarily to such facilities are never locked in their rooms, and are free to leave at any time. Although some individuals attend rehab to satisfy court requirements, the choice to undergo treatment and rehabilitation must come from the alcoholic, and must not be forced upon the individual by outside requirements.
Sometimes a court may force someone into treatment through involuntary commitment. This method of forcing recovery on an individual doesn’t always offer the best results because that addict must want to recover in order for the rehabilitation to have a positive effect on the rest of his or her life. Forced commitment in a rehabilitation facility is not the best way to experience treatment for the first time.
Painful Withdrawal Experiences
The first few days spent in a rehab facility for an alcoholic may very well be some of the worst days of that person’s life due to the horrible impact of alcohol withdrawal upon a heavy or habitual user. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms do not appear in every addict when he stops drinking, but individuals may experience anxiety, irritability, depression, and fatigue among many other emotional impacts.
The first days for an alcoholic without drinking might pass in a painful blur, and the reality of the rehabilitation process will take a few days to set in before an individual will be able to concentrate and participate in his or her own rehabilitation. Upon waking from the fog and pain of withdrawal, an alcoholic will likely embark on an educational experience provided by the treatment program managers.
There are some facilities that engage in a type of alcohol detox where the only part of a person that is “treated” is the physical part of that person’s addiction, but this method is not something that gets to the bottom of why someone might be an addict. Removing toxins from the body is only one part of entering into recovery from an addiction to alcohol.
An Education Begins
An individual seeking to enter recovery after having an addiction must be willing to accept that the rehabilitation process cannot be accomplished by the staff of the facility alone. After spending the first few days at a rehab facility, an alcoholic will realize that the education and treatment will only be successful when the addict fully devotes himself to recovery.
Many alcohol rehab facilities will conduct a treatment program based upon a publication developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the important thing that alcoholics soon learn from this four step program is that recovery doesn’t end when a person leaves the rehabilitation facility. The time spent in rehab is but a small part of recovery.
Therapy Meetings and Counseling Sessions
Most rehabilitation facilities will place an addict into various types of therapy groups or counseling sessions within a few days of entry into the treatment facility. An initial session with a mental health professional will be the first experience someone has with counseling and then there will be an expansion of different counseling efforts.
Various types of rehabilitation facilities may utilize different types of methods for counseling addicts, but the purpose of counseling during rehab is always the same: to teach the addict to understand the reasons why he is addicted to alcohol. Most mental health professionals agree that group counseling sessions offer significant benefit during the rehabilitation process, and although sessions may begin one-on-one with a counselor, addicts should be prepared to interact with a group soon after admittance into the program.
What to Expect Later in Treatment
After an individual has spent a few days in rehab, future experiences may include meetings with family members and preparation for existing outside the facility in a state of recovery. Each length of stay within a rehabilitation center is different (although many individuals will seek out a standard 28 day program).
Occasionally, an individual may begin treatment through an inpatient existence spent entirely inside the rehab facility, and then will eventually migrate to an outpatient program where only part of each day is spent in treatment. The length of stay will often depend upon a person’s insurance or ability to pay for treatment. Finding the means to remain inside a facility for more than a few days is best.
The first few days of a person’s experience in an alcohol rehabilitation center are often the most important of his recovery, and knowing what to expect may help someone to come to terms with the treatment process. Living a sober lifestyle begins with taking the recovery process one day at a time, and that requires finding help inside a rehabilitation facility.