This was an excellent blog by Castle Craig looking at starting addiction treatment. Therapist Christopher Burn speaks about the feelings of anxiety patients experience at the start of treatment and the challenges of committing to the treatment process.
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ (Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities)
When starting treatment, you may feel trapped and anxious. But this is an opportunity to deal with your addiction problem and turn your life around. Make the most of it! If you can take a positive view of entering treatment, then you’re off to a flying start.
Please do not think that treatment means that you sit and wait for others to fix you. That may work for a broken leg but it does not work for addiction. You must be proactive. Others can give guidance. They can even give you inspiration. They cannot change you. Only you can do that.
Some choices will be taken away – no drink or drugs, probably not much entertainment or lying in bed. But gradually these choices will be given back. You have to learn to make the right choices – between what you want and what is good for you. You will be encouraged to take responsibility for your recovery.
The treatment process is one of change – you are here to change yourself. Change happens through constant challenge, support and education and this process happens all day, through your interaction with your peers. This is what being in a therapeutic community means.
Your therapist will meet you and will help devise a treatment plan to take you through the process of change. It will be tailored to your needs but it will be flexible.
A vital part of treatment is group therapy. For newcomers this can be frightening. Very few people have had any prior experience of this. Participation is vitally important; the peer group is the most effective medium for change and the most important recovery tool that you have. Learn to put yourself in the spotlight – by doing so, others will be able to help you.
For most people, the stages of treatment happen like this:
- Face reality, learn about addiction and deal with denial;
- Become willing to change and ask for help;
- Discover and explore spirituality as a source of help and a means of ‘filling the void’;
- Engage in self discovery;
- Identify, with the help of your group and therapist, obstacles to change;
- Commit to make changes;
- Take action to change.
Treatment is a mirror of the world outside and a place to practice life skills. Everything that happens is a chance to practice – if someone annoys us, ask why, and devise ways of coping; if bored, challenge that feeling and learn to deal with it; see everything as an opportunity.
As you progress through treatment you will learn to make better use of the tools at your disposal, especially your peer group. You may be challenged but you will also be supported. This may be painful but it will also be hugely rewarding. By the time you leave treatment you will have a different attitude to life – a change for the better. You may not want to repeat the experience but you will never forget it.
Treatment is the start of change but that process goes on for the rest of our lives. You are on a journey but you will never arrive at your destination. Enjoy the ride.
I volunteer at a local drug and alcohol treatment centre and the change I see in clients between admission and graduation is astonishing and so profound it’s amazing. If you need professional help to stop there is no shame in that and could be the extra step you need to take. Do reach out and seek help either through your local Drug and Alcohol Treatment Service or GP.