Sometimes, getting into a treatment center doesn’t happen when you want it to. Oftentimes, there is a waiting list or your insurance or finances may present an obstacle to obtaining placement. Whatever the reason is, being unable to get into treatment right away may be causing you a great deal of frustration and anxiety. These feelings are completely understandable, but there are things you can do to start preparing for treatment right now.
Begin the Healing Process Now
You are not powerless. You can begin to usher in the healing process now. The steps that you take before you get into treatment may be the ones that sustain you during treatment and beyond. Take this important time to regroup and prepare yourself. The following are things that you can start as soon as possible.
Go to Meetings
If you are a part of the 12-step community, make sure you attend the meetings regularly. If you aren’t a part of one, find out where the closest location is and start to attend. If you would like to find something other than a 12-step program, you can try alternative support groups that do not subscribe to a belief in a higher power (such as SMART Recovery) or that are based on specific therapy techniques. The right support group for you can be instrumental in helping you to stay focused and empowered until your treatment begins.
If you’ve had prior counseling, reconnect with your therapist. If you’ve never had counseling, this would be an ideal time to start. A qualified addiction counselor will know what kind of therapy would help with your background and specific concerns. Some forms of therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help you by changing negative thought patterns. Counseling can be a safe place to process feelings and to help increase your coping skills.
Get in tune with what you believe in and use it as a coping strategy. If you haven’t already, begin to incorporate your spirituality into your daily life. Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, you can turn to meditation or reading inspirational books. Getting in touch with nature can also be a form of spirituality. Go hiking, sit near the ocean, or take scenic walks or drives. These things can be very nurturing and therapeutic. Even keeping a journal of your feelings and experiences can be beneficial in helping you feel centered and connected.
Taking care of your body can have both physical and mental health benefits. Studies show that exercise can help increase the levels of “feel good chemicals” in the brain and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Try incorporating an exercise regime that interests you into your day. Some ideas are kickboxing, weight lifting aerobics, yoga or even dancing.
Holistic remedies can help you with issues such as stress reduction, relaxation, pain management, depression and anxiety. Some examples of alternative remedies include:
Meditation can help improve your focus and attention and can have a calming effect, which can help manage stress and anxiety. There are different types of meditation to choose from. Mindfulness teaches awareness and living in the present moment. There are structured mindfulness groups such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which can help with both physical and mental health problems.
Acupuncture is a Chinese method of healing. Acupuncture can help the body produce chemicals that help us to feel better emotionally. For some, it even helps lessen cravings for alcohol.
Aromatherapy is the use of fragrances to prevent, ease or cure symptoms of illness by inhaling fragrances called essential oils. The fragrances from these oils can help with insomnia, help you feel more energetic or help relieve stress. Scents that can be especially therapeutic include lavender, chamomile, rose and frankincense.
Don’t underestimate the power of self-talk. Using positive affirmations can go a long way in helping to keep you grounded. Remember to be kind to yourself by saying positive things about you. We all have strengths. Begin to highlight yours. Writing affirmations in a journal can be very empowering. If you can’t think of anything positive about yourself, remember that no matter how challenged your past has been, you have value. Say this to yourself every chance you get. Remind yourself of the strength and determination that it takes to take the important step of going to treatment and make that your affirmation.
The Value of Treatment
Getting into a treatment center when you need help is crucial. Remember that it is equally important to learn to take care of yourself before you even get into treatment – especially if you must wait awhile. You have been given the gift of time. Begin to use it wisely. You now have some new strategies to assist you. Whichever options you choose, you’ll be equipped to take on the challenges that you will experience once your treatment begins.
About the Author: Mia Williams, MS
Mia Williams has a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. Her background is primarily in Substance Abuse Counseling and Case Management. She has experience working at an adult substance abuse inpatient treatment facility, where she provided assistance to the Family Unit — a separate accommodation reserved for women at the treatment center for those who chose to bring their children with them during treatment. Her background also includes working as a Substance Abuse Counselor in an outpatient setting, where she counseled in individual and group sessions. She has also been employed as a Substance Abuse Counselor for a Drug Court program, where she not only provided counseling but advocacy for those who attended the program. Her personal philosophy is, “Progress, Not Perfection”. Mia Williams is currently a Social Worker and resides in Florida.