husband checking into rehab

7 Things to Expect on Your First Day of Rehab


Sober Recovery Expert Author

husband checking into rehab

Are you about to enter rehab? Though every facility is unique, there are some things that all centers share in common, especially on the first day. Here are 7 things you can expect to experience when entering a treatment program for addiction and recovery.

1. Strong Emotions

Entering an inpatient rehab is a big step. It means saying “goodbye” to your old way of living and embracing a lifestyle of personal responsibility and sobriety. It means your addiction has become so powerful in your life that you must suspend your work, your friendships, your family relationships, and your freedom in order to cater to it. Because of this, it is very natural for strong emotions to arise on the first day of rehab.

Entering a treatment program for addiction is a big step towards recovery. Here's what to expect on day one.

Some people report feeling overwhelmed by negative feelings upon entering rehab that include homesickness, loneliness, guilt, a sense of loss and anxiousness. Others report a sense of relief, gratitude or excitement. Remember all of these feelings are just part of the process and you can always talk through the emotions with the person or counselor helping you become oriented in rehab. Believe me, they have heard it all before.

2. Lots of Questions

The facility staff will need a lot of information about you in order to provide individualized service. Even if a significant amount of information was obtained prior to your admission, you should still anticipate paperwork and questions on a wide range of topics. Although it may feel like the staff is interrogating you or just being busybodies, remember that their goal is to provide you with the best possible service to get you sober. This information is very important. Be honest and detailed.

Staff members will also need to know your medical history. Bring your medications in their original packaging or a list of your medications and dosages. Be sure to also have the name and phone number of your prescribing physician available as well.

Questions about your family, career, neighborhood, spiritual life and hobbies are also to be expected. Depending on their approach, some facilities will try to obtain as much information as possible on that very first day while others may wait until you are settled in the program and perhaps more comfortable.

Financial matters are also likely to be discussed on day one. Substance abuse treatment is a noble effort, but it is also an expensive one. It is likely that much of the financial matters involved with your treatment were resolved prior to your arrival, but there may be some matters that still need to be resolved. Be sure to bring your insurance card. If a government agency is paying for the service, bring the name and phone number of a contact person at that agency.

3. A History of Addiction Report

Your substance abuse history is also important. If you used a few hours before coming to the rehab, do not be afraid to say so. While it certainly is not advised, many people indulge in “one last” binge before beginning treatment. If this is something you did, let go of any embarrassment and let the staff know. This will enable the staff to prepare you for the physical changes you may experience during withdrawal. If you are going through a medical detoxification plan, giving this information will assist the physician in determining safety measures and appropriate medications.

4. Being Searched

You may not have brought anything inappropriate in your luggage, but the facility staff does not know that until they've searched it. Although it may feel like an invasion of your privacy, recognize that this is a crucial part of keeping you safe and substance-free while in the facility. Often, facilities will restrict items used for entertainment, such as electronic tablets or laptops. The concern is that such items will distract from treatment.

5. List of Rules

Rehabs are in the business of helping people whose lives have gotten out of control. One of the ways they do that is by significantly controlling the environment. The rules are in place to ensure safety and to keep the focus on healing. They are not created to punish or shame anyone.

Rules also assist in developing a sense of community among people who were previously total strangers. It can be difficult for people with different backgrounds and standards to live together in one home. The rules create a common standard for cleanliness, noise levels and appropriate times for various activities.

Furthermore, rules assist in creating a therapeutic environment where the focus is on healing. Restrictions on entertainment, phone calls, and visitation are designed to provide time and energy for focusing on processing problems and coping with emotional restoration.

6. A Tour of the Facility

A staff member or patient nearing discharge will likely be assigned to you for a tour. You will see where you will be sleeping, eating and interacting with your peers. You will meet people as you go and at some point will be formally introduced to the others in recovery with you. This is an opportunity to meet a lot of new people. Some will be friendly while others will not. Remember, rehab can be a difficult process and someone who is having a bad day, may just be having a bad day. It more than likely has nothing to do with you.

7. Not What You Expected

Rehabs rarely look like the rehabs on television or in movies. Remember, TV shows and movies usually highlight the entertaining portions of the day in a rehab environment. You may be able to get a more accurate picture from someone who has been to rehab before, but they may have selective memory and their experience is still unique to themselves. You have your own struggles and your own perspective. Perhaps the best approach to preparing for rehab is to drop your expectations and take each moment as it comes.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for behavioral, alcohol or drug addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to start the path to recovery today.

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