Rehab 101: Staying Sober

staying-soberJust like kindergarten lays the groundwork and sets you up for grade school, and grade school sets you up for high school, rehab sets you up for a life of recovery and a chance at staying sober.

In school, the goal is essentially to learn how to learn. Subjects like math and english offer various ways to exercise the brain and stretch the mind’s ability to reason and create. Art and music are mixed in to stimulate the right brain, and gym is added to include physical movement.

A good school is well-rounded, exposing students to all sorts of academic, artistic, and athletic opportunities so that young people can figure out what they do best and what they want to do, while getting a balanced education.

Substance abuse treatment is the same way. After an extended period of time abusing drugs and alcohol, people need steps. Entering detox sets an addict or alcoholic up for formal rehab, much like kindergarten. Ridding the body of toxic chemicals allows for the real work to begin.

Residential inpatient treatment teaches the basics. Clients are exposed to knowledge about addiction and alcoholism, one-on-one therapy to create and work on an individual treatment plan, and group therapy to give and receive feedback and support with peers. Much like school, these can function as the main subjects: math, english, and science.

In a good rehab problem, like a good school, clients are also offered alternative approaches to healing that supplement the basics and offer other reasons for staying sober. Equine therapy, yoga, meditation, intention setting, art therapy, philanthropic events, exercise, 12 Step involvement, and other ways to heal the mind, body, and soul.

Graduating from a residential treatment prepares a recovering addict for an outpatient program. Once the basics are in place, clients return to work, school, or other responsibilities. It is well established that a 90 day program of residential treatment provides a much better chance at long term sobriety than shorter periods. Outpatient treatment continues the support of residential treatment, but without the twenty-four hour accountability. Clients will either live at home or in a sober living facility while attending outpatient services either during the day or during the evening, depending upon their new schedule.

Inpatient has set clients up for a little bit of freedom and responsibility, but without being left to their own devices. Staying sober is the main goal, so in many cases 12 Step Meetings are incorporated into the outpatient treatment day and random weekly drug tests are administered.

Life after rehab is all about staying sober too. Finding ways to use what you learned in “school” to create the new life you want, without substances, is what recovery is all about.

photo credit: hernan.seoane

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