Starting a rehabilitation program can be intimidating. The separation from family and friends, the prospect of being on your own, and the withdrawals are all hard pills to swallow. With the holidays around the corner—a time meant to be shared with loved ones—it’s especially difficult to say goodbye to the life you once led. But it’s important to accept the hardships in order to achieve sobriety.
Here are twelve steps to success in your twelve months toward sobriety.
Have an open mind
Some rehab facilities heavily implement the ideas of God and faith into the program. Of course, not everyone is going to believe in God or have spiritual beliefs. Having an open mind when going through the program is ideal. You need to be open and teachable. You’re not guaranteed an experience you’re going to agree with, but you are guaranteed a process that will help you get better. Don’t be quick to shoot ideas down, and trust that what you’re doing is in your best interest.
Talk to your family and friends—when you can
Most rehab facilities only allow families and friends to visit at fixed times on specific days. It’s highly recommended to take advantage of these privileges. Speaking to your loved ones will serve as a reminder as to why you seek sobriety in the first place: so that you can live among them without being a detriment to yourself or to them. Their support will keep you going, especially if your stay has become difficult.
Be willing to look at yourself
Self-reflection is a critical part of recovery. It involves asking yourself a number of questions: What brought me here? Why have I chosen to get sober? Often, it can get personal and dig up some deeply rooted problems. During your stay in rehab, it’s necessary to confront this. Though it may be scary, the willingness to look deep inside you can prove to be cathartic and will be a critical step to sobriety.
Surround yourself with support
It’s very important to surround yourself with supportive friends, especially if they’re part of the rehab program with you. They need to associate themselves with people going in the right direction. Sometimes we see people who make the wrong decisions, and it’s important that they befriend people who will keep them making good choices. Encouraging friends will provide a pillar of strength during your stay in rehab. If there is anyone who understands what you’re going through, it’s him or her.
Follow the rules
Rules are there for a reason. Rules will keep you on the right path and have been designed to do so. This means you must follow curfew, go to class when required, and do as you’re scheduled. Any violation could lead to a dismissal. Remember: rules are not meant to hinder, but to help.
Trust the staff
At times, the staff will feel like the enemy, especially at the beginning of your stay, when your mind and body have not yet conformed to a cleaner lifestyle. They will discipline you, they will watch you, and they will force you to confront issues that you may not want to confront. But the staff’s biggest goal is to support you. They are not there to do anything else. They are your personal cheerleading squad and they only want to see you succeed. Take comfort in that.
Work a job
Some rehabilitation programs require patients to work a job during their stay. Working (and keeping) a job holds a number of benefits. Not only does it provide you income, but also it gives you a distraction. Working will take your mind off of your stay in rehab. It will also serve as a social outlet; you will meet coworkers and customers that could play critical roles in your recovery. Plus, having a job in rehab means you’ll have a job when you finish the program.
Though it’s easier said than done, keeping a positive mindset can make all the difference during your stay. Studies show that having an optimistic attitude will reflect in the way your day goes. Looking on the bright side will lead to a good day; being a pessimist will attract negative energy. By keeping your chin up, you are more likely to enjoy your stay and reap the benefits, instead of focusing on the negative.
In order to make the change to sobriety, you have to be honest, not only to the staff, but also to yourself. Honesty will allow you to find the reason behind your addiction. The rehab staff works hard to accomplish this task. They work to dig deep and find the problem. Sometimes people have anger, or want forgiveness,whatever people’s issues are, that’s what we determine. Figuring out what brought about the addiction is the key to long-term sobriety.
Go the extra mile
I highly recommend doing more than what is expected; this can produce better results. For example, most rehabs have a lot of resources available, besides class every night. They assign homework tailored to your specific issues. If the option for more work is present, then you should take advantage: it will help you in the long run.
Do your work
It may seem like you’re back in school, but the assignments given to you are for your benefit. Be diligent and make sure to complete the tasks you are given. They are designed to help you succeed.
Want to get better
Above everything else, you must want to get better. If you are being forced or have been coerced to go to rehab, and don’t really have any desire to turn over a new leaf, then the whole process is moot. You will not make any progress. You are wasting your time and your money. You are wasting the chance of a lifetime. The key to sobriety is the genuine desire to recover. Once you can say to yourself, “I want to get better,” you will be unstoppable.
Kelly Cordovano is co-director of Fresh Start Ministries, a men’s rehabilitation center located in Central Florida. Along with her husband Joe, Kelly works with men who have taken the step to reach sobriety. With over 25 years of rehab teaching under her belt, she has seen people from all walks of life and is well versed in the experiences had by clients. www.freshstartministries.com