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While You Wait: Preparing Yourself Mentally for Alcohol Rehab

This is the first of a six-post look at preparing for alcohol rehab. Today we talk about getting ready for rehab when you have to wait for treatment to begin.

Beginning treatment as soon as possible is always best. However you may face delays due to waitlists at your treatment program of choice. You may have to wrap up a few things at work or home before you can leave. Travel logistics may mean beginning treatment a few days or a week from now as you arrange flights or other transportation. As long as you remain mentally prepared, these delays don’t have to derail your recovery. Preparing yourself involves staying focused, relaxed and informed. It involves maintaining your commitment to starting a drug and alcohol-free life.

Contemplative manRecovery involves change. This is no secret. You want change at this point. Anything is better than the stagnation addiction provides. However there is also security and comfort in the routine thoughts and actions surrounding alcohol use. Don’t let stepping outside this comfort zone keep you from continuing with recovery. As you mentally prepare for rehab, you will begin to think about change and about life after recovery. You may worry about what the future holds. It is okay to be afraid and to worry. These are natural reactions to change. It is not okay to let this fear take over and reverse your decision to get well. Stay mentally prepared for rehab by remembering why you want rehab. Make lists of the pros and cons of continued drug use. Ask friends and family members to help you stay motivated.

Your fears about the future may be more than a reaction to change. They may stem from a co-occurring anxiety issue. Anxiety and alcohol addiction often overlap.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America[1] explains, “About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence…Although alcohol can temporarily reduce symptoms of social anxiety – which is the reason many turn to it – alcohol can also increase anxiety, irritability, or depression a few hours later or the next day. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can affect one’s mood and anxiety level.”

You may have begun drinking to self-medicate anxiety symptoms, or these symptoms may have arisen as a result of your drinking. No matter the cause, know that feeling more than just generally worried about rehab is perfectly normal. Acknowledge that it is okay to feel as you do, and don’t let these feelings keep you from recovery.

Woman in hoodie on beachMentally prepare yourself by practicing relaxation and stress relief techniques. Take deep breaths, go for walks, and distract yourself with favorite hobbies or entertainment. Reach out to professionals when feelings are too much to manage on your own. Your future rehab center will be more than happy to talk with you on the phone and help you mentally prepare yourself any time during your wait.

A wait before rehab provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about addiction and recovery. Take this time to read about your disease and about just what treatment involves. Learn about the science and statistics behind rehab. Read first-hand accounts from people now in active recovery. These actions will help you mentally prepare for rehab. They take fear of the unknown out of the equation, as you will learn just what to expect during your treatment.

Mentally prepare for rehab by spending time with friends and family while you wait. Loved ones can help distract you when you begin to worry about the future. They can help provide motivation if your commitment begins to falter.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[2] shares, “Family members may have a stronger desire to move toward overall improved functioning in the family system, thus compelling and even providing leverage for the patient to seek and/or remain in treatment through periods of ambivalence about achieving a sober lifestyle.”

Let your friends and family support you as you mentally prepare for rehab. If you struggle to manage your worries or stay committed, lean on loved ones to get you through. By choosing treatment and beginning the path to recovery, you give yourself the opportunity to become a better parent, child, sibling and friend.

Make sure you check out our second installment in the “While You Wait” series: Talking to Your Boss Before Alcohol Rehab. Call Michael’s House to learn more about beginning your recovery as soon as possible. Prepare yourself for a better life by choosing our integrated, professional care.

[1] “Social Anxiety and Alcohol Abuse.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Web. 6 Apr 2017.

[2] Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2004. Web. 6 Apr 2017.