10 tips to get the most out of a 30-day drug rehab program

If you're looking for 10 tips to get the most out of a 30-day drug rehab program, we've got them. Because let’s face it: We live in a world that demands instant gratification.

We want what we want, and we want it now. Hungry? Step aside, fast food; delivery services will now bring a Big Mac to your front door. Old episodes of “Friends?” No need to wait for reruns; you can binge it on Netflix now. Suffering from a sinus infection? You can video chat with a doctor from your living room and get a prescription.

Faster cars. Faster load speeds. Faster lives. Time has become a more precious commodity than money, which is why it’s imperative to spend it wisely when you’re seeking help for alcoholism or drug addiction.

While “research indicates that most addicted individuals need at least 3 months in treatment to significantly reduce or stop their drug use and that the best outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment,” [1] we understand that not everyone has that much chronological capital to spend. Sometimes, short-term drug and alcohol treatment — typically 30 days, but occasionally even less — is the only logistical or financial option.

Even that may seem extreme, but remember: You didn’t become a drug addict or an alcoholic overnight, and you can’t get better overnight, either. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes (NIDA) [2] that “because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured.”

It takes time, but more importantly, it takes work. If you’re willing to make a commitment to 30 days of rehab, here are 10 tips that will help you get the best results while you’re there.

1. Commit To Inpatient Treatment

The NIDA says [3] that “in addition to stopping drug abuse, the goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community.” While an Intensive Outpatient program (IOP), in which an individual commutes from home to attend therapy sessions and group meetings several hours a day, might work for some people, many others find that they need to be entirely removed from a setting so closely associated with their drinking and using.

In many cases, home is unstable or unsafe; in others, “home” is a van or a spot beneath the interstate overpass. Some alcoholics and addicts have caused so much damage to their immediate families that spouses and children want them to leave; others drink or use to deal with crippling loneliness and depression, and treatment is a wash if they’re returning home to an empty apartment every night.

One of the most powerful tools in the recovery arsenal is community: “The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel,” it states in the literature of one particular 12 Step program. By committing to 30 days of treatment at Cornerstone of Recovery, patients are removing themselves from potentially dangerous environments and immersing themselves in a community of peers and support staff members who are on similar journeys. There’s power in numbers, and inpatient treatment introduces patients to a recovering community with which connections can be made that extend far beyond drug rehab.

2. Do Your Homework Before You Go

If you’re only going to spend 30 days there, it’s imperative to make sure that a facility meets your needs. For example, a piece in U.S. News and World Report [4] notes that “many people with a substance use disorder have other clinical conditions, such as depression or anxiety.” Does the drug rehab you’re considering offer psychiatric services to help you deal with co-occurring disorder? (Note: Cornerstone of Recovery does.) For many addicts and alcoholics, stopping the use of drugs and alcohol has proven to be impossible in the past. Does the facility you’re looking at offer a Medical Detox program? What is the facility's treatment philosophy? What are the credentials of the counseling staff? Many of these questions might be answered on a facility’s website, but you should never hesitate to follow up via email or a phone call to ask additional questions or even schedule a tour.

3. Know What To Bring

Keep in mind that drug and alcohol rehab isn’t vacation — most facilities won’t allow you to keep your cell phone on your person while you’re in residential inpatient. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring it; it just means you shouldn’t be surprised when they ask you to keep it in an assigned locker. Quality facilities should have a list of what is and is not allowed to be brought in by patients, as well as limitations on luggage, electronics, personal grooming items and more.

4. Go Into It With An Open Mind

10 tips to get the most out of a 30-day drug rehab programNo one puts “going to drug rehab” on a bucket list of items they want to check off. Making a decision to get help for your problem can be painful, embarrassing, even frightening … but if you’ve committed to get that help, then there’s some part of you that knows you need it. No one expects you to skip through the front door with a big smile on your face, but nurture that part of you willing to get help. After all, your best thinking led to a pretty big mess, didn’t it? That’s not a criticism; if anything, it’s simply a sign that drugs and alcohol affect our rational decision-making capabilities. It’s important to trust the guidance of the staff members overseeing your treatment — especially when they’ve been in your shoes. (At Cornerstone of Recovery, more than 75 percent of the clinical staff is in recovery from alcoholism and addiction.)

5. Follow The Rules

We get it: Addicts and alcoholics are rebellious spirits who don’t like being told what to do. However, we’ve found that addiction and alcoholism don’t just free us from conforming; they break us of healthy habits as well. Early recovery is often a crash course in learning how to be a decent human being again, and that means living up to certain expectations placed on you: going to group on time. Not wearing a hat in the building. Smoking in designated areas. Not fraternizing with the opposite sex. Completing your assignments. These aren’t arbitrary rules, nor are they draconian. They’re simply reminders that emerging from the shadows often means we no longer have to live like feral cats.

6. Don’t Give Up

For many addicts and alcoholics, going through life with a fake smile plastered to their faces is a survival tool. They don’t want others to know how bad things really are, so a stock response of “I’m fine” becomes a catchphrase whenever our well-being is inquired about. In drug and alcohol rehab, however, the masks can come off. Patients are encouraged to share what they’re feeling, even if it’s negative, because only by letting go of some of that spiritual poison can they begin to heal. However, digging into those facets of shame and self-loathing, or facing the consequences of our drinking and using, can sometimes have a boomerang effect. There are times that every patient feels unworthy and like they can’t possibly stay clean and sober. The key is to understand that you’re not alone in those feelings, and communicating them doesn’t mean you’ll be reprimanded. (Trust us; we’ve heard it plenty.) You’re going to have to get used to the fact that we believe in you, that we think you are worthy, and that we’ll do everything in our power to remind you of those facts when you’re feeling down. All that we ask is that you “don’t leave before the miracle happens,” as they like to say in some recovery circles.

7. Take Advantage Of The Treatment

According to the NIDA [5], “behavioral therapies — including individual, family, or group counseling — are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment. Behavioral therapies vary in their focus and may involve addressing a patient’s motivation to change, providing incentives for abstinence, building skills to resist drug use, replacing drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding activities, improving problem-solving skills, and facilitating better interpersonal relationships. Also, participation in group therapy and other peer support programs during and following treatment can help maintain abstinence.” At Cornerstone of Recovery, we use everything from Trauma Therapy to Schema Therapy to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and more to identify and treat negative thinking patterns and self-destructive habits, which are often at the root of drug and alcohol use. If you’re serious about getting better, do the work that’s required of you.

8. Focus On Your Physical Health

At Cornerstone of Recovery, we believe in a “whole person” approach to treatment, meaning that we have programs to treat your body, mind, emotion and spirit. One of the most important tools that we offer every patient is participation in our Fitness Program, because small victories in your physical health translate to an improved state of mind. Although every patient is required to take part in fitness, there are free times scheduled on the weekends in our state-of-the-art fitness center. The more you take advantage of any opportunity to exercise, the better you’ll feel.

9. Get Plugged In

One of the most critical tools in the treatment arsenal at Cornerstone of Recovery is the introduction of patients to the 12 Step recovery process. Throughout their stay, patients will attend both in-house and outside meetings of various 12 Step programs — Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, for example — and for those who will leave treatment after 30 days, those programs can be a lifeline to sobriety. But don’t take our word for it: According to a study titled “Alcoholics Anonymous Effectiveness: Faith Meets Science,” [6] published in a 2009 edition of the Journal of Addictive Diseases, “the evidence for AA effectiveness is quite strong: Rates of abstinence are about twice as high among those who attend AA.” Patients who embrace the opportunity for 12 Step involvement lay a strong foundation for long-term sobriety after 30 days of treatment.

10. Start Your Aftercare Planning Immediately

In the big picture, 30 days isn’t a long time. It’s imperative, then, that patients start thinking ahead at the outset of that process about what’s going to happen when it’s done. Is Intensive Outpatient an option? What about 12 Step meeting attendance? Are you willing to go to free Aftercare group meetings on campus? According to the NIDA, “following stays in residential treatment programs, it is important for individuals to remain engaged in outpatient treatment programs and/or aftercare programs. These programs help to reduce the risk of relapse once a patient leaves the residential setting.”

It’s important to never lose sight of the nature of addiction and alcoholism: They’re chronic, progressive, often fatal diseases that require long-term treatment in order to keep them under control. One of the biggest mistakes individuals who suffer make is pretending like they’re minor inconveniences or temporary setbacks that can be overcome and forgotten about. Recovery is about a complete and total life change, because the majority of addicts and alcoholics were unhappy with their lives long before they started to drink or use.

Through that lens, 30 days of treatment isn’t a lot of time to make that change — but it can be a great start, especially for those who follow these 10 tips to get the most out of a 30-day drug rehab program.

SOURCES

[1]: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

[2]: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction

[3]: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment

[4]: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-09-07/6-tips-for-finding-a-good-drug-and-alcohol-treatment-center

[5]: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2746426/