1. Going to rehab can literally save your life.
It should be no secret to anyone that many addicts and alcoholics are teetering on the brink of death due to their disease. Treatment can literally save their life in some cases. But of course the truth runs much deeper than that, and in fact, treatment can save your life on any number of levels, in ways that we may never predict. The fact is that going to rehab and turning your life around can afford the addict so many more opportunities for life–not just from chemical abstinence, but from a complete change in lifestyle. There is a popular saying in traditional recovery: “If the drugs don’t kill you, the lifestyle will.” What does this mean? It means that the way we live in active addiction is dangerous and, in many cases, lethal. We do things and get into situations where we put ourselves at risk. We engage in risky behaviors that compromise our health in both direct and indirect ways. And our path through addiction can lead us to do things that seriously affect our long term health. For example, many alcoholics also smoke cigarettes. Guess what the number one killer of recovering alcoholics is? Lung cancer. And how many alcoholics really have a chance at quitting smoking if they are still drinking every day? Pretty much zero.Does this mean that everyone who sobers up will also quit smoking? Of course not. But it illustrates an idea: that recovery leads us towards healthier decisions. Rehab can affect our long term health outlook in several different ways.
2. Going to rehab can give you a new network of positive people in your life.
This can be more important for some addicts than others, but just about anyone who is addicted can benefit greatly from having more positive people in their life who are clean and sober. The fact is that “we are an average of our 5 best friends.” Most of us had people in active addiction that we used to drink or get high with, and these relationships will need to be replaced if we are to have a genuine shot at staying clean in recovery. This becomes doubly true for younger people who are trying to get clean. Because peer influence is greater at younger ages, it becomes even more important for younger people to find new positive influences in their life. People who are in treatment together often exchange phone numbers and attempt to stay in touch. Some of these new relationships will work out, and others will not. Many will relapse. But you take what works and go with it in recovery. Especially in early recovery, networking with others is important. Later on, as you establish more sobriety, the emphasis should shift to personal growth. If it doesn’t, you run the risk of relapsing due to having too much dependence on social networking. But early in the recovery game, you need to meet others in recovery, and rehab is a great place to do that.
3. Going to rehab gives you a window of opportunity to stay sober.
Some people cannot string together even a few days of sobriety. For these folks, and for anyone else who may struggle with addiction, going to rehab at least gives you a fighting chance. A safe environment, combined with a medical detox, will give anyone at least a baseline of abstinence from which they can then choose to build from. There are no guarantees, of course. Many who get “spun dry” in a short term rehab do end up relapsing shortly after leaving. But at least it offers a chance that some addicts and alcoholics never even give themselves. At the very least, any addict can go through detox and at least get a few short weeks of sobriety under their belt. At this point, the fog can start to lift, and the addict can decide if they really want to make the effort to stay clean and sober or not. Without a baseline of abstinence, however, no competent or lucid decision about recovery is even possible. In other words, go to rehab, just for the sake of clearing your mind enough to see if you want to change your life. You might surprise yourself.
4. Going to rehab can set you up for long term success in recovery.
Anyone can get clean and sober. It is another thing entirely to stay clean and sober. Long term success in recovery is no accident. It takes deliberate effort, and does not happen by chance, or by accident. You have to realize that the natural state of the addict is to be using drugs and alcohol. That is what comes normally to them. It is natural for them to self medicate. So it takes deliberate effort to reverse this. Going to rehab can set you up for long term success by putting you on this path of deliberate action. For example, they may introduce you to meetings that may help you to stay stable in your early recovery, and help you to meet the people who can influence you and teach you how to live sober. Or, you might meet a counselor or therapist in rehab who continues to see you on an outpatient basis, pushing you to keep growing in your recovery. The things that you learn in rehab can serve as a foundation for your new life in recovery. Another example, for me, was in a rehab class that was called “balanced lifestyle.” At the time, I did not see how this really applied to my life, and I thought that the material was irrelevant to my recovery. But as I stayed clean and sober, I started to realize the importance of balance in my life, and so this early lesson in rehab actually did set me up for long term success. In other words, going to drug rehab is about much more than just getting dried out for the short term. If you pay attention and really try to absorb what they are saying, rehab can set you up for long term success in your recovery, if you are willing to put in the footwork.
5. Going to rehab can give you back the simple pleasures in life.
Before I managed to get clean and sober, I had the chance to hear someone in recovery talk about their life, and how it had changed. They had overcome their addiction, and they were excited about living again, and could take joy in doing normal things again. I could not relate to this. I was stuck in addiction, and getting wasted was my only outlet. That was all I wanted in life. Going to a baseball game, or snowboarding, or taking an exotic vacation–it all sounded like such a chore. Nothing appealed to me except getting high. Of course, now that I am in recovery, I can appreciate the simplicity of having a day off and being able to take run in nice weather. Or I can appreciate a simple meal that is shared with other people who I care about. In fact, some of the simple things in my life have become really awesome, simply due to a shift in perspective. I did not think this shift would happen for me if I stayed clean and sober, but it did. And it will happen for anyone who sticks it out in recovery. Your world will open up to you all over again, and you will start to take pleasure in the simple things. Life will have meaning again.
6. Going to rehab can lead to better holistic health.
The goal of recovery goes beyond mere abstinence. The idea is to get clean and sober and start living healthier overall. There are many benefits to doing this and actually seeking holistic health in your life, not the least of which is that it helps you to stay clean and sober. There is a positive feedback loop that comes from treating yourself well in recovery. It has to do with self esteem. If you seek holistic health, and really try to treat yourself good in all areas of your life and health (such as physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, etc.), then you will naturally feel better about yourself and you will value your own life more. If you treat yourself well in recovery and thus value your life more, then you will tend to take better care of yourself. This is the positive feedback loop. A push for better holistic health yields a tendency to live healthier. It is a positive cycle that has to start with action.Most people can easily get started on these principles by attending rehab. You start with abstinence from your drug of choice. But many people go on to include exercise, quitting smoking, and maybe meditation or even breathing exercises. We start to open up to these types of choices as possibilities in our lives, whereas in active addiction, we would not have ever dreamed of pursuing these types of activities. The bonus here is that holistic health enhances your overall recovery, and also helps you to stay clean. For example, quitting smoking gives you a cushion to fall back on rather than relapsing directly to your drug of choice. (In other words, you would sooner smoke a cigarette than you would to relapse on your drug of choice, but this option is only available if you have quit smoking in recovery). Another example might be the enormous boost in endorphins that you get from regular, vigorous exercise–a technique that is so incredibly powerful for staying sober, that some recovery programs are completely centered around physical exercise as a means of maintaining abstinence. For many people, going to rehab opens the door to the possibility for holistic health.
7. Going to rehab can save a ton of money in the long run.
The economics of recovery are simply staggering. The amount of money, time, and value that you save by being clean and sober is absolutely astounding. Really, it is a night-and-day difference that is the difference between having a life, and not having a life. In active addiction, your finances are in shambles. In recovery, the sky is the limit. When I was still using drugs and alcohol, I thought that the cost of rehab was shocking. How little did I know at the time! Rehab paid for itself several times over, and that was just within the first year of my recovery. Now that I have been clean and sober for almost a decade and can look back at the money saved, the cost of any treatment is absolutely trivial. Most people, when considering the money spent on their addiction, don’t really dig deep enough. It is more than just the dollars spent on your drug of choice. You have to account for all sorts of extra things that cost you indirectly, such as missed days of work, missed promotions, working in a lessor job than you otherwise would have achieved, and so on. Then there are the side issues such as the cost of cigarettes, which are likely a byproduct of your main addiction, and so on. The total cost that we spend on our disease is always much higher than we first assume. In recovery, the savings is also much more than what we assume at first. It goes far beyond just “not spending money on drugs.” We become more productive, and provide more value to society. This always pays us off in some way, whether that is directly with cash, or indirectly by some other means. But our lives are enriched in so many meaningful ways, and we start to reap the dividends over time. As we stay clean and sober in recovery, our financial outlook only continues to improve. Keep doing the right thing, over and over again, and it will continue to add up. Managing money can actually become easy in recovery.
8. Going to rehab gives you an opportunity to rebuild relationships in your life.
Many addicts and alcoholics have damaged relationships in their lives that they may think are beyond repair. Or, they have hurt the ones that are closest to them due to their addiction, and they may wonder if they can ever hope to repair that damage. The foundation for doing so is always going to be continuous sobriety. Without that, fixing old problems is going to be impossible. Therefore, going to rehab can become the bridge that can get us to this point in our recovery. It does not always happen overnight, of course. Most addicts and alcoholics have vowed to sober up at some point in the past, and then not followed through with it. It can take time to rebuild trust. And there is no guarantee that everything will be rosy again once you are in rehab. Keep your expectations low about how quickly you can mend broken fences. Better to concentrate on your sobriety at first, and get your own life straightened out. Once you have established some sobriety, that is when the opportunity comes in. This is how rehab can give us a second chance in some of our relationships. We have to put in the work and earn our right to become a new person in recovery. Our continued success in recovery is the change that allows us to rebuild our relationships.
9. Going to rehab can help you to reconnect spiritually.
Just about anyone who is struggling with addiction has become spiritually deficient in some way. No one who checks into rehab is happy with where they are at spiritually in their lives. So it is an opportunity to start rebuilding ourselves from a spiritual standpoint. Rehab is an awesome environment in which to start growing spiritually again, because you are making so many new connections right off the bat. You are meeting other addicts in recovery and you are helping each other to get help for your addiction. This networking with our peers is a huge part of growing spiritually in early recovery. Later on, our spiritual path may take us in many different directions. It does not always have to be about networking with others, or about helping other addicts. But in early recovery, these ideas make it fairly easy to reconnect with our spiritual side. Recovery, and rehab, become a platform by which we can explore our spirituality. Without the break from active using and the baseline of abstinence that you get from going to rehab, making any sort of spiritual progress is incredibly difficult for someone who is struggling with addiction. Usually, if we are still using drugs and alcohol, then we are just lying to ourselves if we claim that we are making spiritual gains. We have to get clean and sober to even have a chance at reconnecting with our spiritual side.
10. Going to rehab can give you your life back.
Ultimately, you gain the whole world by going to rehab, if you manage to stay clean and sober. Any addict who has struggled through addiction and found recovery can look back and say “Yes, I have gained the whole world by going to treatment. It has given me back my entire life.” It is more than just money, or spirituality, or relationships. It is everything. We gain our whole self back in recovery, our whole world. It is the ultimate reward, to be able to rediscover yourself in recovery.