by Daniel D. Maurer
It’s a word that people instantly associate with several images:
A bunch of guys sitting in a circle, crying together.
Standing around wondering what you’re supposed to do next—boredom.
Chatting with a counselor who looks at your life under a microscope.
Bland food, and no snack time.
And, above all, no drugs or alcohol = no fun!
Fortunately, most of these images are nothing more than cheap stereotypes of what rehab is really like. From my view, I’ve had both negative experiences and positive ones at the inpatient rehabs I’ve attended. Ironically, when I look back today on the negative experiences, they seem much more instructive to me of the severity of my own addiction than anything.
Whichever way you look at it, and whether you’re looking to enter into a professional addiction rehabilitation facility for yourself, or you are seeking information for someone you love, you’ll find that rehab isn’t such a bad thing. I mean, after all, transformation is either going to come, or it’s not. It depends on how the person receives it.
Here are four great things about rehab that many people overlook or simply do not see in the first place.
Your Stupid Decisions Have Just Landed You Here . . . But That’s Not a Bad Thing!
It may sound a bit harsh that I’m accusing anyone entering rehab as being stupid. But, hey . . . real is real—our “best thinking” is what got us to this place, and our “best” with alcohol or drugs in the mix usually isn’t that great.
Here’s the thing—that stupidity may have just saved your life or the life of someone you care about.
One of the great ironies of getting into rehab is that, after the fact, it all works out if you follow the plan suggested to you and you’re able to remain sober. In the United States alone, about 117,000 deaths per year can be attributed directly to addiction-related causes. The fact of the matter is addiction is deadly.
The good news is that there are millions of men and woman in our country who have gotten—and remain—sober for the long haul. You can too! Your “blunder” actually isn’t a blunder at all if you get what you need in rehab.
You’re Going to Become Healthier Than You’ve Ever Been Before, And You’ll Have Fun Doing It!
I was a physical wreck when I went for the third time into an inpatient program. I was fat. My face looked like someone had injected saline directly under my skin. What’s worse is I didn’t have any energy—I felt like someone had zapped every ounce of go-juice from my very being.
Slowly but surely, things got better. Rehab did that! What’s amazing as I look back on it now is that while I was undergoing treatment for my addictions, it didn’t feel like I was getting better. But today, I know that’s not true. It’s just that it was so gradual I didn’t notice it then.
Along the way, I found that rehab actually became fun too! That probably was one of the biggest surprises to me. Some centers make a point of creating a program that is activity or adventure-based. My personal take on that is that can be good, but it’s important to choose a rehab facility that is not just about fun, fun, fun . . . but addresses the underlying addiction for the health crisis it is.
Also, the food is generally really quite good!
You May Just Make Some Lifelong Friends
Know what’s great about being an addict in long-term recovery? I can visit any city on the planet and find someone who is just like me.
No. I don’t mean that in some Chinese city there is a clone of Daniel D. Maurer walking around. What I mean is that my brain and the brain of another person with substance-use disorder generally is on the same wavelength. We have our own particular issues in life. We may root for different football teams. But the underlying issue of a continual desire to get drunk or high will always be there.
And some people will become friends. A portion of those friendships will be long lasting, solid, life-and-death friendships. I can count on one hand the number of these friends I’ve made in my life. Know how many of them also are in recovery? Four. Fact is we’re tight because we’ve been through the same fire. Rehab gave us that friendship.
Rehab—Ultimately—Is What You Make of It
Not everything about rehab is great. It’s hard damn work digging into your life to unearth the crap you don’t really want to be looking at. It’s totally worth it though.
I’m of the opinion that an experience in rehab is ultimately what perspective a person chooses to see it from. If you look at an addiction rehab facility as an inconvenience to your busy party itinerary, well . . . it’s gonna suck. Perhaps you need more “research.” Just know that you’re gambling with your health, your relationships, and your life if you “go back out.” This addiction shit is serious business.
However, if you choose to look at the fortune of being able to experience something new and challenging in life (and believe me, getting sober is a HUGE challenge), then perhaps you’ll find that the time you spend in rehab wasn’t so bad, after all.
(And besides, the crying-while-sitting-around-in-a-circle thing? Doesn’t happen all that much.)
Hit it! You’ll be glad you did.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction and are seeking treatment, we would love to talk with you and see how we can help you. PLEASE CALL 844.252.5930. Our counselors are available to guide you through the process.
Daniel D. Maurer is a freelance writer openly living in long-term recovery. He is the author of Sobriety: A Graphic Novel, a Hazelden Publishing, youth and young adult resource. Daniel is currently working on his fourth book, which covers the topic of resiliency. He lives with his family in Saint Paul, Minnesota. For more information on Dan and his work, visit his website and blog at Transformation is Real.