Johnny-Come-Lately: It’s Always the Right Time to Go into Rehab
Isn’t it amazing how narrow minded some people are? In fact, when it comes right down to it, some of the folks we find in the recovery rooms seem to act as if they have it all figured out, right?
If this is what you’re thinking, you may be way off the mark. Maybe what’s really going on is that you’re projecting your own self-imposed limitations of thought on others. But there’s another issue that’s even more important to talk about when it comes to the subject of rehab – and the aforementioned inability to see the forest through the trees.
Some of us, even though we look upon ourselves as right-thinking, open-minded, rational individuals, can’t seem to get it into our heads that it’s never too late to go into rehab. We may think that we, or others we care about, are too far gone to be helped. If that were the case, however, there’d be a lot more people in the morgue from an early death caused by alcohol or drug addiction.
So, the truth is something quite different than what we tell ourselves – make that, what we con ourselves into believing.
We sure don’t want to be the Jonny-come-lately, too late for the life-giving chance of rehab and cutting ourselves off from the opportunity to live a life free of harmful substances.
If healing is the goal, let’s look at how we can get past our roadblocks that we put up and get onto the path to recovery.
Tune Out Negativity
Let’s face it. We’re pretty rough on ourselves. We’ve become so used to things being all black or impossible, that it’s all we seem to think. That kind of negative thinking is a sure pathway to even more negative thinking, resulting in negative actions and no growth whatsoever.
There’s only one way out of this seemingly never-ending black hole. We have to learn how to tune out negativity. This means shutting off that raspy or harping voice inside our heads that constantly reminds us that we’re not good enough, that we don’t have it in us, or that we’ve never succeeded at anything. Don’t listen to it. Get out of the house and get busy doing something else. Do whatever it takes, short of indulging in alcohol or drugs or other process addiction, to clear your head.
Maybe all it takes to begin with is running with a friend, or engaging in a vigorous physical workout. Maybe you tackle cleaning out the garage or start constructing an intricate household project or begin an engrossing hobby. You must have some idea what interests you and can keep your mind from wandering into dangerous territory.
Stop telling yourself that it’s a pointless exercise. You won’t know until you get out of your head and get into something that’s productive. And there’s plenty to do that counts. Ask your friends in the 12-step rooms, your sponsor, your spouse or loved ones to suggest ways that you can overpower that inner voice, tune out the negativity, and get on the road to healing by getting into rehab.
Ignorance is Not Bliss
Why do a great many of us feel that rehab isn’t for us? It may very well be that we don’t know much, if anything about it. In this case, ignorance is not bliss. In fact, being unaware of what’s available that can help us does more harm than we can imagine. If it’s the big unknown that’s holding us back, why not make it a priority to find out all we can about effective treatment first, before we automatically discredit it?
What is rehab, anyway? It’s an opportunity for the person who’s having trouble with alcohol or drug abuse or addiction to get the harmful substances out of their system through detoxification, then to learn how to manage the disease of addiction through counseling, in individual and group sessions. There are also other types of therapies that may be recommended, based on the individual’s particular situation, wants and needs.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. This is just the highest type of overview of rehab. And, keep in mind that each person’s needs are different. That is why there is no single treatment program that’s appropriate for everyone. To be effective, it has to be tailored to what you need, and to what’s most appropriate at the time you seek help to overcome your addiction.
And, once again, it’s never too late to either a) want to get clean and sober or b) go into rehab.
But first, you have to get involved and take the time to find out what types of rehab are available in your area. This entails doing some research, which isn’t all that hard to do on the Internet.
Try searching for treatment for your particular type of addiction. Read up on causes, symptoms, risks, dangers, long-term effects, treatment and aftercare. Go to sites such as Mayo Clinic, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) .
To locate treatment facilities in your area, use the Treatment Facility Locator maintained by SAMHSA. There is also a toll-free, 24-hour Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP where you can get information and referrals on a strictly confidential basis.
Acknowledge Your Fear
While we’re on the subject of reasons why you might feel that it’s too late to go into rehab, it’s important to touch on the one emotion that knocks so many individuals off the path toward treatment: fear.
We’re all afraid of something. For some of us, after many months or years or even most of our lifetime in addiction, the thought that we could somehow be helped by treatment fills us with an overwhelming dread. We don’t have any experience in this area, or, if we do, it may not have worked out too well for us. There could be plenty of reasons why this was so, but it all boils down to us feeling that we’re just scared to death of rehab in the present time.
What can help dispel such fear? Experts say that the first step is to acknowledge the fear. That way, you can help dispel it. By recognizing that you are afraid, you are already helping to take the power away from the fear. But that’s not enough. After you acknowledge that you have some fear or trepidation about rehab, you need to do something to replace that fear with a more optimistic outlook toward getting treatment.
How do you do that? The aforementioned quest for gathering as much information as you can about available treatment is one such step. Ditto talking with others who are supportive of your desire to get clean and sober. The truth is that the more you learn about what life in sobriety looks like, how you accomplish those goals, and you begin gathering people into your support network, the less frightened you’ll be about committing to sobriety and going into rehab.
Mark a Date on the Calendar and Commit
One thing that won’t work, that will never work, is putting off what you can get handled today. Okay, so you might not find it practical to just walk into a rehab facility today and say, "I’m here to get clean and sober and learn how to stay that way." In truth, few of us ever say words like that when we go into rehab. But the intent is the same, either way.
What you can do, however, is get your situation cleared up, arrange for the time off work or go on a sick-leave, if that’s what it takes. Take a semester off school, or ask family members to care for your loved ones while you’re away. Then, make the appropriate arrangements to get into treatment, mark the date on the calendar, and never look back.
Sure, you’ll be tempted to put rehab off. There’ll always be one pressing concern or another, some event or assignment that absolutely demands your attention. But these are just rationalizations. They’re excuses, pure and simple. Guess what? We all come up with them at one time or another.
It’s a tough decision to make to finally commit to getting treatment. Even though we know on a logical level that treatment is designed to help us, we do have to get there inside our heads to really benefit from rehab.
But the first step is to actually get ourselves into treatment. The rest will follow, albeit not without a great deal of effort on our part.
Don’t Let Money Issues Stand in Your Way
A great many people fail to go into treatment because they think that it’s too expensive, out of their reach. They may not have health insurance, or their coverage is very limited. Either way, they feel that they’re backed into a corner and locked out of getting appropriate help to learn how to overcome their addiction.
While financial issues are a concern, they are not insurmountable. Remember the Treatment Facility Locator mentioned earlier? The site has an FAQ section that talks about what to do if you can’t afford treatment. Here is a brief summary. Using the Treatment Facility Locator use the "Select services" button from any of the search pages and check the box for "sliding fee scale" and "payment assistance." Then, call the facilities directly to inquire about their policies regarding help paying for treatment.
You can also contact your state substance abuse agency, like this one for the state of California.
The point is that if you truly want to learn how to live a life free of drugs and alcohol (or any other form of addiction), you cannot let money issues prevent you from getting the help that is available to you. There are people and agencies willing to help you. But you do need to ask, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t immediately find what you need. Be persistent. Call treatment facilities directly and see if you can work out a payment plan, or ask if they have financing or low-interest loans, scholarships or other forms of assistance.
Too Young, Too Old – No Way
Maybe you know someone, perhaps a family member, whom you believe to be too young or too old to go into rehab.
Maybe you’re not aware that addiction strikes individuals at all ages. In fact, addiction is a truly equal-opportunity disease, affecting men, women, and children from early adolescence to the extreme elderly.
Should we just write them off as impossible to help? Of course we shouldn’t. We’d no more close off help to them than we would to any other individual. At least, we shouldn’t. So, if one of our mental blocks is that our precious daughter is just too young to be thrown into rehab with all those hard-core drunks and druggies, we need to rethink our position. First of all, there are treatment facilities that specialize in treating adolescents and teens. So that takes that objection right off the table.
Second, where is this refusal to think treatment is appropriate for our young daughter (or older parent), anyway? Maybe it’s something that we need to ferret out. Could it be that it is our own ignorance or stigma or inability to face reality?
The Sooner You Go, the Sooner You’re Helped
Taking everything into consideration, when you learn as much as you can ahead of time about your particular addiction, finish analyzing what type of treatment is available, and make a commitment to getting clean and sober, there’s really only one thing left to do: go into treatment.
The sooner you actually make that happen, the sooner you’ll be on your way to getting the professional help you need to overcome your drug or alcohol or other addiction.
How much do you want to change your life? Are you eager to see what life can be like for you when you’re no longer sucked up into your cycle of addiction? Forget about what you once thought that it was too late for you to go into rehab.
The time is right. The time is now.