The time has come to begin counseling for your addiction. It’s a big step to admit that you have a problem, and an even bigger step to reach out for help, so you’ve already done some of the hard work needed to prepare for your addiction counseling. Before you go into treatment, there are some steps you can take to improve the chances that you’ll get the most benefit possible out of your counseling sessions. Consider these five ways to prepare yourself for your addiction counseling.
#1 Deal with the Logistics of Your Absence
Whether you are going into an inpatient program or will be traveling back and forth to your counseling sessions, you’re going to be missing work. You’ll also need someone to take care of your children or your elderly parents, if you are a parent or a caregiver (or both). Further, you’ll need to make sure that your bills will continue to be paid in your absence. The task of solving these logistical hurdles might seem overwhelming, but remember that your loved ones are going to want you to succeed and they will likely be willing to step in and help where needed.
Talk to your employer about why you will be gone. This can seem daunting, but they have probably noticed that you have a problem and will want to help. Depending on the size of your company, you may be entitled to 12 weeks of medical leave; having treatment for a substance addiction is a qualifying program for medical leave. Talk to your HR department to find out what you need to do so you are compensated for your time off.
Also, determine who will take over your caregiver duties. You may need to speak to a lawyer about transferring guardianship of minor children temporarily. You will also need to leave a medical release with whomever will have temporary custody of them. In addition, you can set up automatic bill payments so your mortgage is paid and the electricity stays on.
#2 Be Prepared to Eliminate Distractions
When you are in treatment, your first priority is getting better and overcoming your addiction. Your facility will likely have rules or guidelines about using electronics; you might not be able to have access to them during certain points of the treatment or at all. You should also refrain from bringing items that will remind you of friends who have encouraged you in your current lifestyle or places that you have gone to satisfy your cravings.
Keep in mind that the addiction treatment process is meant to give you a fresh start. You are going to need to make some new friends and find new pleasurable activities. Leaving the memorabilia of your old life behind will allow you to turn over that new leaf that you desperately need. Find out from your rehab center what types of items you should bring and leave behind, and follow those suggestions or rules carefully.
#3 Spend Time with Your Loved Ones
It will be difficult on your family members to have you leave for weeks or months, but recognize that it’s more difficult for them to deal with the ramifications of your addiction and the choices you have been making. Do not avoid them during this preparation time! Spend time with your family members and loved ones. Try to create pleasant memories so they have those nice times to look back on while you are gone.
Assure your children that you will return and that you will be feeling much better after you are away. The specific words you use will depend on how much you want them to know and how old they are. The way you explain your absence to a preschooler is very different from the way you’d explain it to a teenager. You might consider taking your child to a counselor before you go so he or she has someone to depend on for mental health care while you are away. Give this information to the person taking care of your child while you are in treatment.
#4 Engage in Self-Care
Now is a great time to start doing things for yourself that you enjoy. You will need activities and relaxation techniques to help you once you are out of the intensive phase of treatment, so you can start looking for those now. Spend time in nature, write in a journal, and, if you are able, take a day trip or a weekend trip to a place that you would like to visit. Engage in healthy activities, like eating well, getting enough sleep, and reading books that you enjoy. Be nice to yourself as you prepare for the very important step of entering a treatment program.
#5 Ask Questions
Go to the website of the addiction treatment center and read through the different sections so you know what you might expect from treatment. It’s overwhelming to commit to a program that you don’t know much about, so the more you can learn about what will happen, the more calm you will be. If you don’t understand why certain rules are in place or how your treatment will progress, feel free to ask questions. Sometimes, the answer will be, “because that’s what we have found works best for our patients.” Try to have peace of mind and accept the wisdom of your chosen facility. After all, this is the one that your doctor has recommended or you have chosen it for another reason, so have faith that their methods will work for you.
This is also a good time to know what your life might look like when you are done with your inpatient or intensive treatment. You cannot predict everything, of course, but try to have an idea in mind of some things you might like to do once you are stable. Having goals in mind can help you get through the tough days ahead and might help you avoid a relapse.
Entering a treatment program is never an easy decision, but chances are very good that it’s the right decision for you. If you have doubts during the preparation phase, imagine what your life can be like once you are no longer held down by the ropes of your addiction. Using the time before your treatment begins to try to relax, tie up loose ends, and learn more about what you can expect is a great way to boost your chances of success.