Compassion Recovery Centers and Joint Commission

What to Do If I’m Scared to Go to Rehab?

a man sitting on a corner scared to go to rehab

Rehab for mental health or substance use addiction treatment is normally a 28-90+ day stay in a clinical facility. Going to one means putting your life on hold for that time and focusing entirely on recovery. That can mean stepping away from your job, your school, and even your family. For many of us, that is completely terrifying, without considering the fact that the entire goal of going to rehab is to change your life. The thing is, it’s normal and natural to be afraid to go, what you do with that fear is more important.

Unfortunately, going to rehab also means you’ll be facing your addiction getting in the way of that treatment. One of the ways addiction gets in the way is self-deception, it might be incredibly tempting to tell yourself you’re not afraid of change, you’re afraid of treatment not working, of not meeting responsibilities at home, etc. Getting treatment will mean facing those inner voices, prioritizing yourself and your own mental health, and working through the reasons you’re afraid to go.

Take Some Time to Learn About Rehab

It’s easy to be afraid of what you don’t know. Most importantly, the media, popular fiction, and even the changing nature of modern medicine means you might have no idea of what to expect. Drug addiction treatment has changed a lot over the last decade. Today, it’s often centered on behavioral therapy, treating underlying problems behind addiction, and using a “holistic” approach to assess and treat the most pressing issues, such as dangers to life and health, resistance to treatment, underlying problems, and then behavioral addiction. This treatment is normally made up of a combination of evidence-based therapy like EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Unfortunately, you can’t really research exactly what you’ll go to study until you find a clinic. Once you do, most will offer in-depth information on the therapy and treatment they use – so you can research it in full. In addition, if you have to wait to go to rehab, it’s often a good idea to visit the facility or to meet people over a video call to get a better idea of where you’ll be going. That can greatly help to alleviate fear of going to treatment, because you’ll have a better idea that these are people, they care about you, and they’re working in rehab because they genuinely want to make an impact in people’s lives.

Approach Your Fears Rationally and Sympathetically

It’s natural and normal to be afraid of change, of failure, of the unknown. The thing is, if you’ve been addicted to drugs and alcohol for any period of time, everything is scary. What if you fail? What if you succeed? What if you don’t know how to live sober? What if life doesn’t change sober? You might be facing significant worry and much of it is valid. Changing your lifestyle is difficult. A significant portion of rehab and substance abuse treatment is entirely based around helping people learn how to live life without drugs and alcohol. In addition, it can take 90+ days for your brain to start to return to normal, before you’ll even be able to experience much of life as a sober person. That can mean you’ll face emotional blunting or an inability to feel or care about things, anxiety, depression, and numbness for months after you quit.

Quitting drugs and alcohol isn’t easy. It’s important that you understand that. It’s also important that you treat your fears rationally and with compassion. The things you’re afraid of might be valid worries but they aren’t insurmountable problems. Your concerns might seem like weakness but they’re normal. It’s important to treat yourself with compassion. You can also work to assess your fears and figure out where they’re coming from. E.g., are you afraid of rehab or are you afraid of having to confront yourself and your past? Are you afraid of being unable to do something or are you afraid of disappointing yourself again? Acknowledging things to yourself, allowing yourself to feel that fear, and moving on is the only healthy thing you can do.

a man sitting on a corner of the street thinking about getting help from addiction rehab center

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

Addiction will get in the way of treatment. It will make you afraid. It will help you to look for any excuse to get out of investing in yourself and getting better. It’s important that you don’t let it. Fear is natural and normal. You might have failed before but that doesn’t mean you’ll fail again. You might have struggled to move on after drugs or alcohol before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find joy and happiness without substances to lean on. Most of us have been taught ideas about addiction as a moral problem, as personal failure, but that’s not true at all. Substance use disorders are behavioral disorders – mental health disorders – and they are treatable, you can recover, and you can grow to become a different person. The only thing holding you back from doing that is unwillingness to learn, to invest, and to change. Most importantly, while addiction makes that extremely difficult to do, taking that step and moving beyond that fear is the crucial first step in actually recovering.

Addiction treatment can be long, difficult, and very much a scary thing. It’s normal and okay to be afraid. It’s normal and okay to be frightened of how you’ll come out on the other side. Whether you come out healthy and manage to maintain your recovery after graduating your program or whether you relapse, you’re going into an unknown. That’s a scary thing. However, it’s also an important thing and something you will have to face – even if you don’t get treatment now. Eventually, addiction is the real thing to be afraid of and where you’ll be in a year without treatment is likely a lot more frightening than where you’ll be in a year with it – and taking that step, getting help for yourself, and investing in your future is about taking steps to ensure that future is safe, healthy, and a place where you and your loved ones can be happy.

If you or you loved one need help with mental health treatment, drug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Centers are here to help. Contact us to ask about our mental health programs and how we can support your specific requirements as you move into treatment.

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