5 Things You Should Know About Rehab

When a loved one finally agrees to go to rehab for a substance abuse disorder, the first reaction from family members is often an overwhelming sense of relief. The second reaction may be uncertainty. Is it really happening? How will the family manage? Should we tell anyone?

Guilt, shame, regret, and remorse may be felt by the person going to rehab as well as by family members, who may be concerned that they ignored signs and symptoms or wish they had intervened sooner. There’s no right way to feel, and no roadmap for getting someone into rehab or encouraging them to complete their journey to recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse advises that fewer than 90 days in inpatient or outpatient intensive treatment has limited effectiveness, yet many insurers and employers only cover costs for 30 to 60 days. If you need help navigating treatment referrals and information in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA’s) National Helpline, a free, confidential service for people and families facing mental and substance use disorders. The service, in Spanish and English, can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Learn more at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline.

1. Rehab is a Step in the Right Direction, Not a Cure

Addiction is a treatable disorder, but like many chronic conditions, there is no single cure and it must typically be managed over a lifetime. Recovering addicts learn coping skills in treatment that can help them for the rest of their lives: communication, financial management, emotional regulation, decision making, time management, and self-care. Medical care, including medication management to help with the symptoms of withdrawal, psychotherapy, group counseling, nutrition and wellness counseling, and mindfulness techniques may all be incorporated into intensive treatment. 

It can be devastating to go to rehab, but it can be just as hard to leave, because the 24 hour support system that’s been available must also be left behind. Transitioning back to the stressors of everyday life is an opportunity to put learned skills into practice, to communicate honestly with partners, families, and friends, and to find the support you need to stay on the road to recovery. It can also be challenging to reintegrate at home when a partner or family has developed new routines and coping mechanisms and roles and responsibilities have changed.

Temptation, boredom, and lack of a positive and supportive environment may lead to relapses. 

2. Relapses are Common

Without medical supervision, addicts who stop using substances typically experience significant symptoms of withdrawal, including nausea, hot and cold sweats, agitation, vomiting, diarrhea, aches, pains, seizures, and altered mental status. Many people who stop using abruptly, without support, relapse within days because the symptoms of withdrawal are so severe. 

When people leave rehab in the first two days, it may also be that they are conflicted about being there and do not feel they fit in. It’s more common for people to leave between day 3 and day 14, when symptoms of withdrawal are most severe. The phone calls asking to come home can be hard on families, who can best support their loved ones by offering empathy but encouraging completion of the program, and communicating difficulties to staff when appropriate to try to decrease the motivation to leave early.

Two of every three people who go to rehab relapse at least once. Up to 85% of people who go to rehab for substance abuse relapse within one year, with rates highest for people addicted to heroin and other opiates. A survey of Alcoholics Anonymous members found that 75% relapsed during their first year of sobriety, but among those who remained sober for 5 years, only 7% relapsed. More than 50% of women but only 25% of men remain sober after treatment. 

A relapse doesn’t necessarily mean rehab resulted in failure. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a relapse may indicate the need to resume treatment, modify the approach, or try a different kind of treatment.You can read more about their research into treatment for addiction here

3. You Have Rights

It is possible to get fired for behaving dangerously or inappropriately in the workplace, but if you work for a company that has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius and you have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, and you choose to seek help for addiction, your job is protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You can’t be fired for privately informing your supervisor that you are going to a treatment center for a substance use or alcohol use disorder, medical conditions that are understood to be uncontrollable use of alcohol or illegal substances.

4. Sobriety May Not Save Your Marriage

The fear of a spouse leaving can prompt someone with an addiction to seek  – and complete – treatment. However, recovery from an addiction is not an instant fix for a rocky relationship. Addiction is the third most cited reason women seek divorce, and the 8th most common reason men seek divorce. 

While in recovery, support includes working on personal transformation as well as improving connections and communication, but discoveries in therapy may reveal that some relationships are unhealthy or may suffer from such a lack of trust that they are unlikely or unable to to continue. In cases of extreme codependency, time apart during rehab may also give each partner time to examine their own history, accountability, and personal wellness goals. 

5. Therapy is Just Beginning

Treatment improves mental and physical wellbeing, but it doesn’t come with a personality transplant. Substance abuse is often present with other mental disorders, trauma, anxiety, depression, ADHD, and underlying issues that may have contributed to behaviors that led to experimenting with illegal substances or sublimating uncomfortable feelings with alcohol. It is vital to connect with an experienced counselor who can support individuals and families transitioning from addiction to recovery.

Benefits departments at major employers can confidentially explain options for continuing care, including how much time off an employee may use without penalty and what types of aftercare may be covered by insurance. 

If your family is struggling with addiction, find a Lifeologie Counseling specialist who is compassionate and experienced in treating issues associated with substance abuse and addictive behaviors.

About Lifeologie

Lifeologie Counseling was founded in 2000 with one goal in mind — to bring a fresh, innovative approach to the everyday problems of life. Creative solutions to stuck problems®. With our unique multi-specialty, collaborative approach, Lifeologie Counseling helps individuals and families heal their wounds and break out of old, unhealthy patterns.