Planning For Addiction Treatment

After committing to going to an addiction treatment center, it’s time to think about the next steps to take in order to be fully prepared. Many people who are entering rehab for the first time may not know what to expect, and worry about putting things on hold while away such as their job, bills, or family obligations. It’s important to remember that it’s completely normal to feel stressed about this new experience, and that all these worries can be managed by taking the time to properly prepare for entering treatment.

For most, the hardest part of getting sober is deciding to get help. Once you’ve done that, the rest of the process becomes much easier, as you’ll have the help and support of addiction specialists and treatment professionals. Now, it’s just about focusing on your recovery and learning the tools and skills to support you after treatment.

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Steps To Preparing For Treatment

The following tips outline some steps to take, both mentally and physically, in the weeks leading up to entering treatment.

1. Take Care of Work And Family Obligations

Entering treatment is no small feat, and everyone should be commended for making such a courageous decision to better their lives. Sadly, addiction is still surrounded by negative stigma, which can make telling others difficult. Whether it’s friends, family, co-workers, or other people in your life, being honest can be tough. Still, it’s important that you tell those around you of your decision, as it will allow you to focus completely on yourself without worrying about what to tell others.

For most, being open and honest about entering rehab with their employer is one of the toughest challenges. Most employers do not need to know the specific needs for entering a treatment center, though honesty is often a powerful tool in recovery that you may find helpful to utilize in these scenarios. In the end, most employers simply want the healthiest, happiest, and best version of their employee.

If you’re worried about losing your job due to entering treatment, or if you believe opening up to your employer could be damaging, there are several laws and resources available to help you through this difficult process. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, nearly everyone is entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave, which means your job will be protected during your stay in treatment.

If you’re a caregiver to children, elderly parents, or even pets, now is the time to make sure they’re being taken care of while away in treatment. For many, family or friends are open to look after their children or pets if appropriate. Sometimes, it may be necessary to look into options for temporary care such as a long-term caregiver or a boarding facility for pets. Doing so will help put your mind at ease to know that everyone and everything has been taken care of before taking care of yourself.

Another important element to address with family is expectations and boundaries that everyone may need to feel safe. Some examples of this might be exploring how comfortable the family would be if you didn’t finish treatment and wanted to return home. Discussing these concerns up front allows for everyone to feel more comfortable, understood, and safe as family can often feel unsafe when someone with active substance use is in the home.

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2. Tie Up Any Financial Or Legal Loose Ends

If there are any bills that need to be paid while away at treatment, make sure to sign up for automatic payments or speak to someone trusted about making sure bills get paid on time. It is also a good idea to contact the insurance carrier that will be covering your treatment stay (if you’re using insurance). This includes knowing any financial responsibilities such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance that may arise during treatment. No one wants to come back ready to tackle life and be saddled with financial stresses.

Tell [your] family goodbye and try to leave jobs, bills, and drama outside. Be willing to change. Look at yourself. Be honest.

- Lori M., recovering addict

If necessary, make sure the courts and any form of legal representation that may be included are aware of your intent to go to treatment. Even if your treatment stay is verbally understood, it’s best to get a legal “OK” on paper.

3. Make Sure To Have the Essentials – And Only The Essentials

It can be tempting to want to bring everything that reminds you of home to rehab, but taking only the items you need, and that are approved by the program in advance, will make sure you are adhering to the treatment center’s set of allowed items.

I would say go with anything you have and if not, go with nothing — but go! It can change life. 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 V., recovering addict

Sticking to the essentials will also minimize any outside distractions that can interfere with your recovery process. While in treatment, your focus should be on self-reflection and treatment, so leave any “extras” behind.

4. Enjoy The Company You Keep

At times, the weeks leading up to entering treatment may be disorientating, and it can feel like there are a million things happening at once. However, it’s important to make the time to enjoy the positive people in your life prior to leaving. Appreciating family and friends can provide vital inspiration you need to make the most of treatment and feel reassured of your decision.

Sometimes, you may have to be the one to reach out to family or friends and let them know that you entering treatment. Letting them know when and how long you expect to be in treatment can help with accountability in following through with attending treatment as well as maintaining a life of recovery upon return home.

5. Write A Letter Or Keep A Journal

It’s important to take time to check in with yourself and reflect before treatment. A great way to do this is by writing a letter to a loved one or perhaps your future self. The letter can consist of anything that’s on your mind, from a list of goals to achieve in treatment to things you may want to do after completing treatment. It could also be as simple as your feelings and thoughts about the whole situation.

You can also keep a personal journal to document how you’re feeling each day or to have a log of what has become more or less difficult in the days leading up to treatment.

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.

- Jenn, recovering addict

Here are a few helpful journaling prompts to get started:

  • My favorite way to spend the day is…
  • If I could talk to my teenage self, the one thing I would say is…
  • The two moments I’ll never forget in my life are… (describe them in detail, and what makes them so unforgettable)
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6. Take Time To Relax

Think of something that has been healthy and truly relaxing. Is it taking a walk around the block? Soaking in a warm bath? Watching a favorite show? Whatever it is, take time out of each day before, and after, treatment to focus on it. It’s normal to be nervous about making an important change but allowing the mind to be as calm as possible is a helpful strategy to take..

Start Preparing For Rehab Today

Deciding to go to treatment is a monumental step that will make things feel much better for both you and the people you love. Know that making this decision to get better will play an important role to living a fuller, healthier life. Being prepared can help to ensure that you get the most out of your treatment experience and come out equipped with the tools to stay healthy and sober in recovery.

Do you or someone you love need help preparing for rehab? Contact a treatment provider to discuss rehab options and how to prepare.

Published:

Author

Travis Pantiel

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  • Travis Pantiel is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a National Board-Certified Counselor with specialized expertise in the co-occurring disorder treatment field.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

Photo of David Hampton
  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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