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How to Prepare for a Drug Rehab

Table of Contents

Attending drug rehab is a big step on your road to recovery, and some may be a bit intimidated during as you are preparing. It’s important to note that there will be someone guiding you through every step of the way. Clinicians and your therapist will help make sure that you have everything you need to get to and get through addiction treatment. However, there are a few things you can do to make the preparation process as smooth as possible.

How to Mentally Prepare for Drug Rehab

People arrive at addiction treatment centers from different places with a wide variety of mindsets. Some people come to treatment determined to achieve sobriety. Other may not even recognize they have a problem, especially if they are there to appease family members or because of a court order. 

Addiction treatment can be effective, even if people aren’t ready to change when they first arrive. However, your readiness to change can significantly affect your experience in treatment. Your stage of change refers to your mental readiness to make a long-lasting change. There are five major stages of change that people with substance use disorders go through:

  • Precontemplation. The need for change and realistic plans to facilitate change aren’t even on your radar. For someone with a substance use disorder, this may be apparent if they are defensive or dismissive when the issue of their substance use comes up. They may also blame others for their actions.
  • Contemplation. A person in this stage may recognize they have a problem and be willing to discuss it openly. Even though they don’t have a commitment or any specific plans to change, but they are open to talking about it.
  • Preparation. In this stage, a person may be making realistic plans to facilitate a change. Typically, to qualify as the preparation stage, these preparations should be actionable within 30 days. For instance, if someone says, “I should go to rehab someday,” they may still be in contemplation. If they say, “I want to get into rehab this week,” they may be in preparation, especially if they are actively exploring options.
  • Action. In this stage, a person is devoting consistent time and energy in taking observable actions to facilitate a change. This stage lasts about six months for the change to be long-lasting or permanent.
  • Maintenance. After six months, a person who has successfully made a change will work to maintain it on a long-term basis. However, a person may relapse from this stage and move to other stages.

Advancing your stage of change is a great way to prepare for drug rehab. When you arrive at treatment ready to hit the ground running, you may have more early success in treatment. Plus, a positive attitude may allow you to meet challenges with less stress.

What Should You Expect?

When you first enter addiction treatment, you likely will go through an intake and assessment process that’s intended to help guide you to the ideal treatment for your needs. If you are preparing to leave for your treatment program, you may have already been speaking to an intake specialist to help guide you to the right treatment center for your needs. 

However, once you arrive, you will go through psychological and medical assessments. Clinicians will most likely use the ASAM criteria, which is a list of factors that can help addiction treatment professionals determine the right level of care for each client. The criteria involve six dimensions that address your medical, cognitive, psychological, and social level of needs.

You may also go through an assessment with your therapist called a biopsychosocial. This is an interview-style test that goes deeper into your medical, psychological, and social history. Participating in your biopsychosocial is one of the most important things you can do during the assessment process. You and your therapist will create your treatment plan, largely based on the information you give during this assessment. Doing your best to answer honestly will mean setting up a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. However, if your treatment plan isn’t ideal, don’t worry. Your treatment plan will be reassessed and adapted every week.

You should also be prepared to begin working on your treatment plan immediately. When you enter a rehab program, you should receive goals and objectives almost immediately. In many cases, your objectives may be centered around medical detox at first, and you will simply be expected to get rest and listen to your doctors. However, when you begin your wider array of therapies you may be expected to attend therapy sessions and complete a variety of tasks.

Another important thing that you should prepare for is working and living with other people, both peers, and clinicians. If you are entering a residential treatment program, you will most likely be sharing your room with a roommate. Isolation can be destructive and even dangerous to a person going through detox and treatment. It’s important for you to learn to develop social skills, build a sense of community, and bolster your support system with people who share your commitment to recovery.

What Should You Bring?

Knowing what to bring to drug rehab can help you to prepare for treatment in a practical way. Your intake coordinator will let you know about important things you might need to bring to treatment, but there are some other items you might want to know about. Plus, there are a few things you won’t be allowed to take to treatment. Some items are obvious like weapons and illicit drugs, but others are easily overlooked. Anything that could jeopardize your (or someone else’s) safety or sobriety will be off limits.

Prohibited items include:

  • Weapons
  • Drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Mouthwash or hand sanitizers with alcohol in them
  • Porn or sexually explicit material

 Some items may be allowed but unnecessary in treatment. You may also need items for the journey to rehab that you won’t need when you’re there. For instance, you may need a cell phone while you’re traveling to your rehab center, but you won’t be allowed to keep it with you during your stay. Instead, it will be kept safe and returned to you once you’re ready to leave. Cash, credit cards, and food may also be helpful on the way to treatment, but you won’t need it once you’re there. 

In treatment, you may be able to keep some money on hand for things like vending machines and small purchases, but a residential program will meet all of your needs. People going through powerful cravings may try to contact a dealer and buy drugs during a moment of weakness. Putting your phone and money in safekeeping can put an important barrier between you and relapse.

When you start packing for rehab, a few items that should be on your list. Some are vital while others will just make you stay more comfortable. Important things to consider bringing include:

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Underwear and socks
  • Pajamas
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Warm clothes (if your treatment center is in a cold region)
  • Activewear
  • Bathing suit (You may not have swimming pool access while in medical detox, but some rehab centers have pools for long-term residential clients.)
  • Entertainment (Handheld games or music are acceptable as long as devices don’t connect to the internet.)
  • Names and phone numbers of people you might like to contact
  • Important accessories like your wedding ring or watch
  • Notebook
  • Stamps and envelopes
  • Pictures of loved ones

Starting Your Road to Recovery Today

If you or someone know is struggling with a substance use disorder, and you’d like to know more about how treatment might be able to help, speak to an addiction treatment specialist at Serenity at Summit to hear about the treatment options that we offer and how they may be able to guide you to lasting recovery. 

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. (2017, January). What Is Addiction? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

ASAM. (n.d.). What is the ASAM Criteria? Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/resources/the-asam-criteria/about

Susman, D., Ph.D. (2017, December 13). Are You Ready for Change? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-recovery-coach/201712/are-you-ready-change

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, July). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

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