Alcohol Awareness Week took place near the end of November, and many people who struggle with alcohol and other addictions are looking forward to a new year and a new life free from the harmful effects of these substances. You are likely interested in the possibility of checking into rehab because you read something about Alcohol Awareness Week or some similar campaign for drug use awareness, and that’s a fantastic life change you are considering.
Getting clean and sober will improve your life in a variety of ways. Your body will get healthier, particularly your heart and liver. Your thinking will improve as will your relationships. All of this will take time, consistency and hard work, but the results are definitely worth the effort. Over the long run, you might need to use several types of drug treatment options at different stages in your recovery.
How do you get ready for rehab? It’s a huge step in your life, and it’s not something that you just jump into in a heartbeat. You will be away at a facility for several weeks. If you have kids, pets, a home, and a job, then you have some things to get in order before walking into rehab. Here are six things you can do to prepare for rehab in the coming weeks.
- Submit FMLA Forms to Your Employer
If you are employed, you likely qualify for medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for up to 12 weeks. This will ensure that you still have a job when you return from rehab, and having that job and income lined up will make your recovery a lot smoother.
However, you can’t just call up your employer one morning on your way to rehab and say, “I won’t be coming in today or for the next couple of months. I’ll be in rehab,” and then just hang up. That’s not fair to your employer. There is a process that you must go through to protect your job. Talk to your boss or contact your company’s human resources department so that you comply with the procedures and submit all of your paperwork ahead of time.
This might sound like a hassle, but holding onto your job while in rehab is actually a very important step in your recovery. Keeping yourself busy and productive upon discharge will be essential to keep you from slipping back into old behavior patterns. Having the structure and schedule that a job requires will be a big help to you in your recovery. Please don’t underestimate the value of this. Having a steady paycheck will also help you keep stress levels down, but even the act of going to work every day can play a big role.
Steady employment is healthy, positive and productive. Working hard at your job and taking pride in your work is good for you. It builds self-confidence. It makes you feel good about yourself, and that alone can be a great help in getting off drugs and alcohol and living a more positive, productive life.
- Make Arrangements for Your Kids and Pets
If you are a parent with young kids living with you, you’ll have to make arrangements for them. Your spouse or the children’s other parent will likely be able to care for them after work hours, but they might need to be in a daycare or an after-school program for part of the day.
You could also enlist the aid of a trusted family member such as a parent, sibling or in-law to come to stay at your home and care for your kids while you are away. This might be ideal as they can also bring in the mail, water the lawn and straighten up after themselves. If you have pets, they can take care of your pets, too.
If you don’t have anyone to come to help out at your home, you might need to have the kids stay with a family member or trusted friend at their home. If your treatment is taking place during the school year, you will need to coordinate a temporary transfer with the school district to enable your kids to continue their education in the school district in which they will be residing while you’re in rehab. This will take some time to arrange, so get started with the process as soon as possible.
If nobody will be staying at your home while you’re in rehab and you aren’t able to house your pets with a friend or family member, you’ll need to get either a pet sitter or a pet boarding service.
- Make Arrangements for Your Home, Vehicle, and Property
If possible, arrange for a trusted family member or friend to water your lawn and pick up the mail. If you receive newspaper delivery at your home, call up the newspaper and place your subscription on hold while you are away. It’s also a good idea to use a timer for your lights so that they will turn on and off every night.
The point of these tasks is to make it look like your home is occupied and all is normal. Thieves are more likely to target your home if they notice newspapers piling up in the driveway, see the lawn and plants dying or see that the lights are never on at night. Those are signs that nobody is home.
If you have a vehicle and live in an apartment or a condo complex, make sure that you are parked in your designated stall and that your registration and parking permit will not expire while you are gone. Allowing these to expire while you are in rehab might result in your vehicle being towed away. Arrange for these to be paid on time or even ahead of time and for the stickers to be placed on your vehicle for you.
It’s also a good idea to avoid tipping off all your friends on social media that your home will be empty for the next several weeks while you’re in rehab. Instead, just put up a status that says you are taking a break from social media for a while.
If you are single and your home will be vacant during your stay in rehab, take a little time to clean your home. When you walk back through that door after rehab, you don’t want to walk into a filthy, cluttered, disorganized environment. Empty the refrigerator of anything that is likely to spoil within the next 90 days. Straighten up the living room and make your bed. Do all of your laundry, too. Vacuum the floors and clean the bathroom.
Depending on how long you will be away, you may need to shut off your water either at the street or at your water heater.
This is also a good time to purge your home of every trace of your old lifestyle. Get rid of anything that makes you think about drugs and alcohol. Don’t just toss out any paraphernalia, drugs, and bottles. That’s a good place to start, but don’t stop there. Look through your closet and get rid of any clothes that remind you of people or past memories that you associate with drug or alcohol use. If an old band T-shirt reminds you of that concert where you got high or it makes you want to start drinking, then get rid of it.
Get rid of bottle openers, ashtrays, collector’s shot glasses and even CDs that have an emotional pull on you and will stir up feelings and desires for alcohol or drugs when you return from rehab. You have to understand and accept this.
If you’re serious about kicking your addiction, you will need to radically change your lifestyle: out with the old and in with the new. If you take these steps now before beginning rehab, you will greatly increase your chances of success when you return.
- Get Your Bills and Finances in Order
One mistake that will likely knock you off course is coming home from rehab to a pile of unpaid bills, disconnection notices, and late fees. These will increase your stress levels and cause unnecessary pressure from the start.
Call up your creditors to see if they can delay your monthly payments for a few months while you are at rehab. Many companies will be happy to work with you to keep your accounts in good standing, but you need to let them know ahead of time what is going on so that payment arrangements can be made.
For creditors that will not delay or minimize payments, you will likely need to set up automatic payments. This will work just fine if you have sufficient funds in your account to cover the payments. If that is a challenge, try to work with family members who are supportive of your rehab efforts to ensure that bills get paid.
- Bring What You Need and Leave the Rest at Home
You will need to bring some things with you to Rehab such as clothing and a few personal items. However, for the most part, you won’t need to pack up very much. Your rehab center will provide you with a list of the items you should bring along with a list of items that are prohibited. Do not try to sneak in any controlled substances or prohibited items with you into rehab as these will only make it harder for you to follow through. In some cases, they might even get you kicked out of rehab.
Commit to this process and only bring with you what you need. Many people have found keeping a diary or journal to be a huge help in the recovery process and for dealing with depression and other underlying issues that contribute to substance use.
If you are already in the practice of daily or occasional journaling, bring your journal with you. If not, go pick up a blank diary or spiral notebook for you to write in. Self-reflection and journaling might even be a required part of your rehab. Check with your facility representative to see if they have any specific tips regarding what to bring and what not to bring.
- Prepare Your Mind for the Journey Ahead
Getting clean from alcohol and substance addiction is a lifelong journey. It’s not just something that you can do for a few weeks and then find yourself permanently cured. This will be an ongoing process, so be realistic about the commitment that you are undertaking.
Everything is about to change. Your old lifestyle involved certain people, locations, activities, habits and thought patterns. If you want to experience permanent, life-changing results, you need to be willing to cut off from your old life and start over with building something fresh and new. It won’t happen overnight, and it might not happen without support and accountability to others. However, if you commit to making these changes and follow through, it will happen.
Begin thinking about your new life. Think more about prevention than willpower. Willpower and inner strength will not always be there, so it’s much better to prevent yourself from being in situations where temptation exists in the first place. This will mean engineering your environment so that willpower won’t even be necessary most of the time.
Be aware of the habits, locations, and people in your old life that trigger desires for substance use, and then avoid those situations and people. This is a difficult change, but it’s necessary for you to get well. Awareness and prevention go hand in hand. Being realistic about the journey ahead will go a long way toward securing your success.
In the end, your recovery is in your hands. There are many people who want to help you succeed from your family members, co-workers, and friends to health care professionals and social workers in your community. Ultimately, your success is your responsibility. You can make these changes stick by accepting personal responsibility for your life and by taking advantage of the assistance and resources that are available.