Month: June 2019

man running

When Rehab Doesn’t Work

Continuing from our last piece, let’s imagine that in fact you’ve already gone along to a treatment facility in the past, and relapsed on alcohol or drugs since then.

What could have gone wrong?

What can you learn from this?

Well, we’ll assume that you wanted to be there in the first place, since rehab treatment programs are generally voluntary.


1) Did you take part?
I know this sounds simple. But part of the intial progress you need to make, is moving from a place of denial, prior to treatment, to entering into a place of accepting your addiction, and owning it.

This often means “giving in” to some extent. Meaning, allowing yourself to be absorbed into the program of treatment, and making a positive assumption that it will help.

Importantly, it also means actually taking part, actively.

Sitting at the back of the room, in group therapy, staying silent, and hoping you’re not picked on, won’t do any good.

Not for your confidence, or your progress.

No-one wants to jump in at the deep end your first day there. But consider truthfully, did I willingly and actively engage in what the treatment centre had to offer?

Did I raise my hand? Did I ask questions? Did I interact with other clients on the same journey?

Did I show the vulnerable, emotional parts of myself, that are necessary to work on, in order to make progress on this illness?

This requires an odd combination of vulnerability, and grit.

Overcoming alcoholism at a rehab clinic requires humility, and trusting enough, to show your weaknesses in front of people you’ve just met.

But you also need to be determined enough to *do* it, work the process, and commit.

If you’re not invested… nothing will happen.


2) Did you get rehab…or just detox?
I get it – at the start of the process, when we’re drunk, desperate, and feeling as low as we’ve ever been, the only focus in our mind is to *feel* better…. as quickly as possible.

It’s difficult at that point to see through the haze and consider the bigger picture of longer term sobriety, and how to ensure that, after detox is finished.

Likewise, once we’re physically detoxed, it’s really easy to conclude “I can do this on my own!”…..”I don’t need anyone, or anything!” and get carried away with simply how good we feel, that we forget to take longer term abstinence seriously.

So, being honest, when you signed up, was it for detox, or for rehab?

If you went through the full rehabilitation process, and still floundered, well…we’re coming to that.

But if you left after detox, consider now, if that was the best move. It may be possible that you got exactly what you wanted, but simply didn’t do enough to secure longer term sobriety.


3) Did you set up aftercare?
When you were in treatment, what arrangements did you make for when you leave?

It’s all too easy, in the safe confines of the clinic, protected from the usual stressors in life, to assume that things will somehow automatically be different, after you leave an addiction treatment centre.

But what have you done to ensure this?

In the outside world after treatment, it’s up to you.

If you didn’t set it up, consider doig so now. What supports do you need, to maintain recovery (or get back on track), and what will help you achieve this?

What will your daily routine look like? From your up-to-date knowledge of your addiction history and weak points, what supports will you put in place to prevent relpase during those weak moments, when stressors hit?

Thinking back to what you learned about yourself during treatment, what specific *types* of h elp might you need, to get things on track again.

It’s not as easy when back in the reality outside the clinic, but it can be done.


4) Triggers
Triggers, and events you couldn’t have anticipated during treatment, are almost always at the top of the list, as reasons for relapse.

Did you properly understand the triggers you have for addiction behaviours, during therapy time in treatment?

Did you fully take account of these, across different contexts and scenarios in life, and make arrangements in your aftercare planning for this?

Did you compare your history with alcohol – similar events where you binged, or used, to learn more about your patterns of usage, and likely trigger situations?

If not, do so now.

The self-insight and learning we can gain from these types of comparison exercises is huge.

It needn’t be complicated.

Just right down a list, now, of times when you binged *extremely*, or events where your drinking got *really out of control*.

Note the dates next to each of these, and do this across as many years as you can remember.

Now, examine the events carefully, and look for the commonalities.

What are you trying to get out of these situations? What gains do you make, by going to excess with alcohol, during these events?

What potential losses are you trying to avoid, by drinking, in these scenarios?

These are the clues to your patterns in alcoholism, your triggers, and the reasons why you drink – this is the gold.

Use it, to plan around situations in future that you think could trigger an alcohol episode.