An estimated 23.5 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to some form of a substance in the United States, according to estimates from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One of the most effective ways to combat addiction is through completing a drug rehabilitation program. While many facilities offer out-patient treatment options, choosing a residential treatment program dramatically increases your chances of success. However, a common question residents ask when first entering residential treatment is whether or not they can bring a fellow addict they know with them into the program. In general, the answer is typically no, and typically for good reasons.
Two Sides of the Coin
The desire to bring someone you know into treatment is understandable, especially if they also need treatment for an addiction. It’s not uncommon to feel that if you have someone there that you know to support you, together you can motivate and encourage each other to finish the program. While this may be true to a point, having a friend, family member or partner with you can also negatively impact your treatment progress, especially when it’s someone else who suffers from addiction.
An addiction trigger is anything that reminds you of using or encourages the need to use. Triggers can be a certain location, a smell or even certain people. A fellow addict in treatment can most certainly act as a trigger for substance cravings and a desire to leave treatment. Even if you’re personally not experiencing a craving, having someone that you have a history with talk to you about their cravings or desires to leave treatment may develop that desire in you as well. So instead of just one person dropping treatment, there is a potential for both of you to end up dropping and relapsing.
Finding Support in Rehab
While you may not have someone you personally know at first in the center, it’s important to understand that when you enter treatment, you won’t be alone. First, you’ll have caring, experienced, professional staff to support you through the initial transition. You’ll also be introduced to other addicts in the facility to connect to, gain support from and in some cases learn from. While these addicts often come from a similar place as the person you’d like to go to treatment with, they are less likely to be a trigger in comparison to someone you know.
Taking Care of You
Another reason why it’s important to enter treatment on your own is that it gives you the opportunity to focus on yourself. This is especially important if you’ve found yourself in codependent relationships in the past. Building up your own confidence, self-esteem and general life skills help ensure that you won’t need to return to your old coping mechanisms once you’ve completed treatment, reducing your risks for relapse.
What To Expect
Knowing what to expect during treatment can help reduce your worries about entering on your own. It’s essential to understand that at the core of most treatment centers is education. While detoxing and creating an environment where you can’t use is an important component, it’s the skills and coping tools you learn during the process that help you resist relapse once you leave the structure of a residential treatment center. During treatment you can expect programs and treatments to be designed around helping you look at your addiction more honestly and realistically, helping you become more honest about yourself, and gaining the coping mechanisms necessary to avoid falling into old habits. These goals are met through programs like one-on-one behavioral counseling, group therapy, family meetings, classes and often holistic therapies like meditation or yoga.
Set an Example
While your fellow addict may not be able to attend the same treatment center as you, seeing you enter treatment may be the encouragement they need to enter their own treatment center. Even if they don’t enter at the same time as you, seeing the changes in your life because of treatment can set an example of the beneficial effects of getting help.
While the initial feelings about attending a treatment program on your own can feel overwhelming, when you review what addiction has done to your life and the lives of those around you, you’ll hopefully see that the benefits of attending a treatment program far outweigh your worries. Drug treatment not only changes lives, it often saves lives as well. So don’t wait, take that first step towards a healthier and more hopeful future today.