Josh Chandler | April 12, 2015

Early Treatment and Detox: Getting Through It

Making the decision to finally enter a treatment program is a huge step, and upon doing this, one of the very first things one should do is congratulate yourself. It’s a potential life-changing (and life-saving) decision, and may be the biggest one you’ll make in your lifetime. Detox is the first stage of recovery, and it can be a frightening proposition. Most people have experienced some abstention from drugs and/or alcohol and have some idea of what’s in store…and let’s face it, it may not be pretty. There’s going to be some degree of being uncomfortable, depending on the length and size of your addiction. You’re going to be facing some loss of sleep and a lot of time spent, well, being uncomfortable. In addition to this, you will be spending a lot of time exploring your subconscious, and figuring out the underlying reasons for your substance abuse. It’s deep stuff indeed, hard work, and it may not be easy. In good conscious, I can’t sugarcoat this; but there are a few things to know going in that can make the transition and process much easier.


Getting Honest and Keeping an Open Mind

One of the most common things addicts do upon entering detox is to exaggerate the amount of drugs they take in order to acquire larger doses of detox meds. This is particularly a common practice among opiate addicts. It’s a somewhat understandable practice but in the long run, it’s just not a good idea, because all you’re doing is merely prolonging the inevitable. At some point in the detox process where pain is an uncomfortable reality, the wisest thing to do at this point is to get honest and get this out of the way as early as possible. Another factor is that physicians who work in treatment are all too aware of this, and generally take it into this consideration when they are making their diagnosis and formulating a detox schedule. Getting honest at this early stage of the game will help you set up your rehabilitation honestly; one has to dig deeply and honestly in order to find the underlying causes of addiction, so getting into the habit from the outset is just good, solid thinking…

Another important factor in conjunction with honesty in recovery is keeping an open mind. Unless you’re revisiting a facility, you’re going to be entering a treatment center that has its own way of doing things, probably foreign to you. To be sure, treatment modalities are often similar from rehab to rehab, but there will indeed be new concepts, not to mention new staff members that you’re going to be interacting with. As much as you may kick and scream or have personality differences with people, it’s important to remember that these people are here to help you, not to make your misery greater. Take advantage of relationships with these people; there is a very good chance that you will be pleasantly surprised, and this will enhance your recovery in undeniable ways.


Understanding and Utilizing Your Free Time

Yes, you’re going to have some downtime. For the most part many facilities don’t require those in detox to attend every group in the treatment plan, especially in the early stages. You might not be resilient enough to attend outings such as 12-step meetings or movies/shopping in the very early days. So, aside from groups and therapy – which is one of the key things to jump into at the outset – you will find some time to yourself. Using these moments to catch up on much-needed sleep is usually necessary. You’re going to have to say goodbye to the Internet, at least on a lifestyle day-to-day level. Electronic devices such as cell phones, personal computers, tablets etc. will either be highly restricted, or in many cases completely withheld, at least in the early weeks of treatment. Television is often limited to certain periods of the day after program hours.

Treatment facilities keep a keen eye on new residents, not just to check their safety and progress, but to make sure that they don’t isolate. However, at the same time it is well known that one needs a certain amount of time to themselves throughout the healing process. It’s important to remember that you are indeed a sick person in a medical facility.

Reading material is an excellent idea here, for various reasons, and if you enjoy it – even a little – it just may prevent you from losing your mind. So much of your time is going to be spent in group settings and individual treatment, that the simple activity of reading a book or magazine will enable you to have some quality time…to yourself. Reading also provides exercise to a part of your brain that needs nourishment that the printed word can provide. For these reasons, a couple of books and/or magazines when you’re packing are an excellent idea.


Keeping it Clean

Many of us coming off of a run with drugs and/or alcohol haven’t always kept up with daily hygiene or laundry. As troublesome as it may seem to be at the beginning, keeping yourself and your belongings clean on a daily basis will make you feel a lot better, and will no doubt aid in your overall recovery Almost all rehabs have  free laundry facilities for exactly this reason.


The Slippery Slope of Rehab Relationships

The aspects of friendship, kindness and camaraderie are some of the most important pieces of the overall recovery picture. You’re going to meet and live with a whole new set of people in treatment and a degree of ‘being a part of’ is a constant and truly critical. With that said, it’s important to remember that you’re in treatment for yourself first; not necessarily to make friends with everyone. Far too many co-dependent relationships form in treatment, and even if you are in detox for a brief period, you’re sure to hear about at least one set if people who met in treatment only to join forces in relapse It’s interesting to note the power of addiction here: two or more people – complete strangers – throw in their lot together for the sole reason of using. It’s obvious that these unions end quickly… and often with devastating conclusions.

The sad fact is that this is merely the nature of the beast. The best advice here is to keep your mind on your own recovery, while at the same time being open to new people, ideas and `help. A good thing is to spend some time with the residents who have been there awhile and are progressing (you’ll be able to figure out who they are…). “Stick with the winners”? You betcha

In the end the best thing to remember at your lowest point is that this will end, and whatever misery you are facing is not forever This is the first step in the long journey through rehabilitation…by keeping your eye on the prize, you indeed are going to get through this!


Addiction,Detox,Drug Detox,Recovery,Rehab,Treatment,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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