Advice Straight From Those Who Have Been In Your Shoes

The decision to go to rehab is often one that requires much thought and consideration.

You may be flooded with worries about how to manage the cost of rehab, what to bring with you, or what a typical day in rehab actually looks like. Fortunately, there are many simple actions you can take to ensure that you are fully prepared for your stay in rehab.

We asked over 400 recovering addicts and loved ones who have already been through the rehab process to share some tips for people entering a treatment program. Their advice comes from a place of experience and care, which we hope will resonate with anyone who may have any hesitations about getting help for a drug or alcohol dependency.

How To Pack For Rehab

Figuring out what to pack for rehab can feel like a daunting process, but it doesn’t need to be. Below are some suggestions on what to bring, what not to bring, and a few items that deserve to be on anyone’s packing list.

Many people in recovery felt that bringing along a journal, as well as photos of loved ones to hang up, were what helped keep them positive through the treatment process.

Here’s what they had to say about how to best pack for rehab:

1. “Take a week’s worth of clothing and an attitude to learn about dealing with the disease of addiction.”– Rick

2. “Have a pen and paper to write [with] because to me, once my mind was clear, all of these emotions and thoughts came over me and it help me to write about them.”– Maya

3. “Take your makeup with you because as you begin to feel like a real person again, you’ll want to look better than you did when you arrived!” – Lisa

4. “Take a week of clean clothes, all the toiletries you’ll need, phone numbers, candy (if you can), something to read or occupy your time with, and family pictures. Oh, [and] pajamas, a robe, and slippers.” – Guy

Take a blank notebook and journal. It was really useful and still is handy to go back and see just how far I have come.

5. “Other than the essentials of clothing and personal hygiene products, I would recommend packing some notebooks for journaling. If you are a spiritual person, then [bring] a devotional book or something of the sorts, and pictures of those that will motivate you to keep going.” – Tricia

6. “Bring walking shoes.. I literally walked laps inside the facility, which relieved stress and facilitated conversation opportunities with other walkers.” – Juli

7. “I packed everything in big plastic ziplocs such as toiletries etc. This came in handy when I woke up the first day. I felt really horrible and that was one thing I didn’t have to worry about.” – Erin

8. “I do remember being really grateful that I had packed sweaters. It seemed we were always cold. I guess that was [a result of] detoxing.” – Janis

9. “Take a blank notebook and journal. It was really useful and still is handy to go back and see just how far I have come. Pack comfortable clothes and leave valuables at home. Take some photos to keep with you so when you feel like giving up, you can remember what you have waiting when you get done.” – Jenn

10. “I would say go with anything you have and if not, go with nothing — but go!! It can change lives. It has for me! The clothes and stuff you can get later, but you probably won’t have another opportunity to save your life!” – Jacqueline

Learning To Trust The Process

Most of what makes individuals successful in recovery is by changing their mindset and redirecting unhealthy habits into positive life changes. While you may feel frustrated, alone, or even ready to give up at times, you can gradually learn to trust the process of addiction treatment. Many addicts in recovery cite willingness, honesty, and humility as the most important characteristics to maintain throughout your stay in rehab.

Here are a few more ways to foster a sense of trust in the treatment process:

11. “Be open minded and take it one day at a time. Try to stay positive and put recovery first — no matter what. You are worth it.” – Jewel

12. “One piece of advice is to be willing. Be willing to look at all angles and opportunities. Be honest about your situation. Odds are, no one will raise an eyebrow about who you are or what your story is. If you can’t be honest, be willing to be honest. If you can’t be willing, be willing to be willing.” – Tony

13. “Stay in the present. One of my struggles, like most addicts, is anxiety. When your mind wonders in the past or future…refocus to the present moment and breathe.” – Nicole

Let go of the idea that you can do it all by yourself.”

14. “My main advice would be to be totally transparent about your issue. Be honest, open and willing with others in treatment, and learn to be accountable to yourself and others. Lastly, learn humility!!” – Thomas

15. “Don’t expect things to change immediately. If it feels like you are all better after a week, realize that while it’s wonderful that you feel better physically, there is much work to be done to heal emotionally. Don’t fight with those trying to help you. Let go of the idea that you can do it all by yourself.” – Kevin

16. “Keep an open mind and an open heart. Don’t think of it as an end, think of it as a beginning.” – Teresa

17. “Don’t be afraid of change. Realize that treatment won’t fix you, you have to fix you. Treatment gives you the tools, you just have to utilize them.” – Kember

18. “You have to change everything, from the type of people you interact with to the way you think and carry yourself.” – Sara

How To Make The Most Of Your Time In Rehab

There are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you take in as much information about the disease of addiction as you can while in rehab. By actively participating in group therapy session and taking detailed notes to reference once out of treatment, you will be setting yourself up for success.

Here are additional ways you can get the most out of your stay in rehab:

19. “The best way to improve your experience is to have a mentor or accountability partner to walk alongside you through treatment so he/she can write letters of encouragement and work through a plan of care for discharge with the treatment provider. Aftercare is very important to recovery.” – Ron

“It’s up to you to decide what you need to get and stay sober.”

20. “Be aware of your ability to transfer your addiction to food, sugar, sex or cigarettes. Watch calorie intake.” – Michael Anthony

21.“Try to leave jobs, bills and drama outside.” – Lori

22. “Participate in group discussions.” – Lisa

23. “Take lots of notes so you can remind yourself what you learned.” – Deanna

24. “The right program is essential — AA and NA may not work for everyone. It’s up to you to decide what you need to get and stay sober.” – Heidi

How To Overcome Obstacles While In Treatment

Recovery isn’t a process that happens overnight, and it shouldn’t be. You are bound to be faced with challenges in rehab that will push you to your limits, both emotionally and physically. However, once you get past these, the light at the end of the tunnel will become closer and brighter.

Here are a few things you can do proactively to ensure you are ready for rehab:

25. “Prepare to get pissed off. It is OK. Just don’t stay pissed off. There will be laughter. A lot of it. Give it everything you have. An open mind is the most important thing you can pack, along with willingness.”– Jenn

Take suggestions and listen. Just remember this is all temporary.

26. “Do not leave early.” – Kevin

27. “No matter how much you want to leave, don’t! Three people I went to treatment with left and unfortunately got high and died. It’s not fun on the streets that you know nothing about [around the treatment center] because you’re not from there. Take suggestions and listen. Just remember this is all temporary.” – Kendra

28. “Most people are angry when they go in but that’ll go away, I promise.” – Krissy

29. “Work as hard at your recovery as you did to get high.” – Jacque

Safeguarding Your Sobriety After Treatment

Many people in recovery will tell you that the hard work truly begins when you walk out of the rehab doors. In treatment, you are in a safe and controlled environment that lends itself to a healthy lifestyle. However, it is essential to incorporate the same routines and lessons you learned in rehab into your new life.

Here are some tips on how to safeguard your sobriety post-treatment:

30. “Make 90 meetings in 90 days.” – Jimmy

31. “Remember ‘graduating’ treatment does not mean we are cured. Go to a 12 step meeting immediately after graduation and be grateful you have been given another chance at life.” – Sara

“Everybody needs a friend that fills them with encouragement.”

32. “Pray and ask your higher power for strength.” – Valerie

33. “I love reading success stories, that pumps my recovery up in huge ways. I love to hear that others are being pulled from that mess just like I was. It is always good to have a good cheerleader…everybody needs a friend that fills them with encouragement.” – Shannon

34. “Be the the one who ‘makes it.’” – Rob

35. “The biggest thing to remember is when you start treatment, it’s uncomfortable and that’s the point. You have to be uncomfortable because you’re trying to change things…Once that uncomfortable feeling starts to become comfortable, that’ll be your new normal. Sobriety will be your new normal. Be open minded, be prepared to reboot your brain to learn how to think critically about things. Think long and hard before you make decisions in life.” – Donnie

36. “Look for the message that might save your life one day. Also, look for the similarities [between you and others in rehab], not the differences.” – Anthony

37. “Just go!” – Lisa

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