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What Is Drug Rehab Really Like: An Inside Perspective

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

March 18, 2019

Individuals who have never experienced a rehabilitation setting for drug abuse and addiction may not know what to expect when entering a facility to seek sobriety. Upon seeking treatment, worlds and lives change dramatically and letting oneself abandon familiar lifestyles and blindly adhere to a strict and regulatory program can be extremely intimidating.

Just as many of us want to know what to expect when we go to the dentist, though it’s been laid out for us so many times before, explained in plain English, we still, as creatures of self-preservation, crave some level of knowledge that keeps us feeling safe and at ease. Transitions such as checking into rehab are among the most nerve racking of experiences, BUT only because the experience is so much more than something akin to leaving for summer camp.

The unknown is worth being shattered for those whose lives hang in the balance due to drug’s tightening grip on their lives. To maintain a level of comfort that leaves a potential patient ready to make the best step of their lives—that first step toward sobriety—we must be honest about the wonders of drug rehabilitation, the ways in which it can help even the most resistant of patients, and the obstacles that are very real and very much so inevitable.

Taking Rehab For What It Is

“No pain, no gain” is a phrase that can be used not in scaring away those who may be ready to seek treatment for addiction, but for those who really want to dissect those words and come to admire their meaning. There is a great amount of reward that comes with reaching sobriety and attaining a drug-free life. Just as anyone would tell you in a physical therapy session, in order to get to that point of amazing success, there are some uncomfortable, perhaps painful steps that must be taken.

Reality will dictate to you that in order for you to feel better in life, you must swallow that disgusting cough syrup, you must spray the scrape with that burning disinfectant spray. Likewise, in life, in order to get that Bachelors degree, you must dedicate months of your time on Earth to boring, seeming unimportant classes that leave you wondering why you even need to know about Underwater Basket Weaving. But at that sweet end to all of this petulance, you’ve weathered the rather short storm and you now are feeling top-notch, your wounds are healed, and nobody can take away from you that degree in Political Science.

So this is what drug rehab is. It is not fluffy and phony, it is not simple and ineffective. It is real, it is difficult, and if taken seriously, it will likely be the single best thing you’ve ever accomplished in your entire life.

Leaving A Tainted Life

Your life—the one where you succumb to your disease and slowly (or maybe quickly) burn all the surrounding bridges, watch as everything crumbles, and in turn, use once again, is NOT LIFE. The facade you’ve created to help you maintain a level of comfort in what you are doing to yourself is only making nearly every part of your existence worse. At this moment, you have likely lost a job, a romantic relationship, family support, a good friend, maybe even your children. You likely have legal troubles and debts that make addiction only that much more difficult, as these points of negativity seep into your heart and add to your drug abuse.

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Going into treatment for addiction means—first and foremost—realizing that what you are living is NOT a life. There is very little of what you experience in your current world that should be maintained or preserved for a later date. The beauty of treatment is that, in healing yourself and finding a new ground on which to stand, you also rebuild and overhaul the toxicity that contributed to your disease. This is the point at which you accept that a clean slate is fresh and exciting and leaves doors open for wonderful, healthy experiences that you’ve never really gotten before.

A benefit of checking into inpatient rehabilitation can be relocation. Knowing that many specialized programs are only available out-of-state can provide the best setting for your sobriety, even after treatment is complete. Your life, upon finding sobriety, will finally be your own again, and being in a new place with new faces and a fresh start can be a solidifying factor in your new life of recovery.

Seeking YOUR Treatment

Treatment is not and never will be a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Every person who suffers from the disease of addiction—be it drugs or alcohol—has an intricate history and cause for addiction that may run deeper than even they know. It can, therefore, be difficult to determine which type of treatment program will be to your best benefit.

As you seek help and medical advice, be sure to have evaluations done in terms of mental health. Though you may think, “There’s no way I’m crazy,” you must understand that many mental health issues, such as depression go unnoticed, and can directly influence addiction. Those issues, even the smaller ones, need to be addressed and treated while the addiction is also being handled so that addiction does not sneak back in to your life on the back of something else.

So maybe you need a long-term treatment program, or maybe you’d benefit from dual diagnosis centers that can treat your depression and anxiety in order to help you move onto a sober life. Regardless of where you need to be, knowing that there are many options and that everyone is different will help you find the best possible situation that will guide you toward success.

Detoxification And Check In

Entering rehab has its many steps. From an insider’s view you will need to figure out some financial issues before getting into a program. Many insurances cover a portion of, if not all the drug and alcohol rehab. There are bank loans specifically for rehabilitation, and there are also many free-of-charge Christian rehab programs in the US.

A major step in the recovery process when entering rehab is detoxification. This necessary process, which will flush the substances you’ve used out of your system, and possibly put you through a state of withdrawal, can be done in a way that regulates side effects of illness. Depending on how you approach treatment, you may opt to have medical detoxification in a setting where your withdrawal symptoms can be closely monitored and your comfort can be made a priority through the tough spots.

Once your body is clean, you will be checked into the center and taken to your room, possibly with a roommate, and treatment will officially begin.

Programs And Opportunities

Though it may not initially appear to be of great value to you, and your irritability may be running high post-detox, it is important to recognize all that treatment has to offer. You may not love your roommate, you may not love the food or the atmosphere as much as you would love to be at home in your own bed, BUT as soon as your body begins to heal, you mind will change.

Your sobriety begins as soon as your body starts to regain its strength and your mind begins to heal. Your thoughts, once foggy and irrational, will begin to set themselves on certain points of importance within your program. As you listen to stories that other residents have to share, your clear mind will find some point of similarity that connects your life to theirs. Your mind will surprise you when it is without drugs and alcohol and can act as your best advocate through the trying times of recovery.

During your stay at a rehabilitation center, you will find that in addition to various therapies, there are also qualities to your program that set it apart from the rest. There may be art classes, horseback riding, or special group activities. There may also be involvement with a 12-Step program, faith-based activities, and volunteer work. Every program and every facility are different, so choose wisely for yourself and remember that while comfort is great, getting clean is #1.

Solace And Aftercare

For most residents in a rehab facility, there comes a point where you begin to feel the words that you hear every day, and they resonate within you and make you know that what you’ve been told and the new path you’ve been led to is right. Finding that you are safe and that your choice to enter rehab was a good one will eventually be your first moment of self-pride. You may, at that point, look back at the day you left your broken life behind in order to find sobriety, and that, too, will fill your heart with joy and confidence to fuel you on in this journey.

Through every step of the rehabilitation process—therapies, medical intervention, group interaction, and unique sober-promoting amenities—you will find that that phrase, “no pain, no gain” is very much true. You will also find very quickly that the first part ends and the second part begins in lightning speed. That pain will dissipate, and, I hate to break it to you, but everything you started out hating about rehab when you entered, you will likely end up loving and adhering to for years to come, should you continue in a drug-free life.

Finding devotion to the messages that you hear every day will touch your heart. Carrying those messages elsewhere can continue to keep you safe and sober when your time at rehab comes to an end.

Knowing where you’re going when your program ends is invaluable. Sober living could be a route that you select not only to monitor your own behaviors and keep yourself on track, but to keep up the idea that in some ways, if not many, your former life was not healthy and should not be returned to. If you can, this is the time to either make major changes at home, letting go of people who are not good for your sobriety, or relocate your life and start something new and completely fresh. Remember that it may be worth letting go of some relationships, if they were never good for you in the first place.

Get The Treatment You Deserve

Life is not a walk in the park. We all have problems, some bigger than others. Your problem is serious and will continue to hurt you and you loved ones until you see that your future can be drug-free and that you have the potential to be a better person. Find your pride and get clean today by contacting

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