I obviously never thought that I would ever have to go to rehab when I started using drugs. In fact, even when I realized how bad my drug abuse had gotten, I was still pretty certain that I wouldn't be going to rehab.
I was also 100 percent certain that Amy Winehouse had written the song "Rehab" about me because there was no chance I was going to go. No, no, no.
However, things looked a bit differently after my drug addiction had landed me at rock bottom. I was on the verge of homelessness, without a car and about to lose my job and decided, "What the hell? I can always avoid the weirdos that are in rehab anyway."
It wasn't that I didn't want to get sober. I knew what my life was turning into because of my drug abuse. I knew how bad things had gotten and that I was desperate to change, but I had my reasons for not wanting to go. If only I knew how false these assumptions were, I probably would have checked myself in a lot sooner.
Here are 5 assumptions I had about rehab that were totally wrong:
1. You're locked in your room and only leave to see a therapist.
I was definitely dead wrong about this one. In fact, the rehab center I checked into was extremely casual, offering the residents a lot of downtime to spend conversing with other addicts. Yes, there were a couple of classes offered during the day as well as one meeting at night but, all in all, there was a lot of freedom to spend relaxing and socializing. One time, there was even a soccer event that everyone was invited to participate in. The experience was almost like a mini vacation to clear my head and see the error of my ways. My rehab facility even allowed people to smoke in the designated areas, which is commonly phenomenal for addicts trying to get sober.
2. Everyone who was there wanted to be there.
This couldn’t have been farther from the truth. In fact, many of the individuals were there either because their families made them go or they were court ordered to do so. This proved to be a problem in my experience because I wound up just finding other addicts similar to myself who were itching to get out and use. If I had to rewind time and go to rehab again, I would most definitely surround myself with people who wanted to be there.
3. They babble the same psychological nonsense to everyone.
This wasn't the case either. During the group sessions, we were each assigned the same worksheet or Q&A, but our cases were evaluated according to our individual answers. The doctors who we worked with did what was necessary to get to the bottom of our addiction and choices, rather than simply comparing or sharing the same advice with every patient. After discussing our individual sessions among ourselves, I soon realized that the doctors were truly paying attention to what we were saying.
4. The place is full of doctors who don't know what you're going through.
While my stint at rehab wasn’t what ultimately kept me sober, there was one woman who truly touched me and, to this day, I still credit for helping me get sober—even if it happened two years later. I don’t remember if she was a nurse or a volunteer but she was a crack addict who had served extensive time in jail and shared nothing but her deepest and darkest story details. She was one of the many speakers we listened to in rehab who had no medical education or training. These speakers were simply there to share their stories about how drugs and alcohol destroyed their life, how rehab helped them and the miracle of a life they were living today.
5. Rehab will either make you go cold turkey or coddle you into sobriety.
I was afraid that if I entered treatment, I would be withdrawing for weeks. Well, I was half right, mainly because I couldn't swallow Suboxone without throwing up. But it was available. Doctors in a rehab facility know how to care for you, whether it’s withdrawing from drugs or alcohol, so that you are as comfortable as possible.
There is also no coddling. Your therapists, doctors and nursing staff have absolutely no reason to spare your feelings. They want you to get sober and they have no interest in saying things that you're going to like. It's often the cold, hard truth you need to hear that will get you where you need to be rather than words someone might say who is tip-toeing around your feelings.
So while rehab didn't work for me, I know that at the time I just wasn't ready. I didn't enter with an open mind. I didn't even stay for the entire time that was recommended. Instead, I chose to hang out with other addicts in rehab who were only interested in making plans to get high. Fortunately, rehab does work as it’s designed if you enter with an open mind and allow the doctors do what they do best. Once you erase your negative assumptions about rehab, you can go in with a positive mindset and the willingness to change—and leave having that accomplished.