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The Pre-Rehab Checklist: How to Get the Most Out of Your Recovery

Posted By Caleb Anderson, Tuesday, May 1, 2018

In the United States right now, there are over 14,500 rehabilitation centers for people recovering from drugs and alcohol. These centers offer a range of treatment options, including detox and inpatient or outpatient rehab. With outpatient rehab, addiction specialists and nurse practitioners visit people in their homes, allowing them to continue with their normal routine outside of treatment. Usually, outpatient is recommended for patients with mild addictions. Inpatient programs, on the other hand, are designed to help people who suffer from severe addictions. These generally begin with some form of medically-managed detoxification – in layman’s terms, “withdrawal.”


Withdrawal syndrome is essentially your body restoring its chemical balance after the cessation or decrease of your regular intake of drugs or alcohol. The symptoms differ according to each substance, ranging from discomforting to excruciating, to possibly fatal. Alcohol withdrawal, for one, may begin 12 hours to a few days after you stop drinking. Mild symptoms include nausea, sweating, shaking, and high blood pressure. Intense trembling and hallucinations are just a few of the severe symptoms. Delirium tremens (“DTs”), meanwhile, comprise all the signs above, and cause seizures. If untreated, DTs can lead to death. Symptoms of withdrawal from illicit drugs are chillingly similar – drenching sweats, hallucinations, seizures, and death.


Keep in mind, those are the dire results if an especially bad withdrawal goes untreated by professionals. But with the stakes so high, it’s important for anyone with an addiction to go to rehab, and to be prepared before you check in. Following the steps below will assist you in focusing on your recovery.


Planning Your Absence

Before you sign into rehab, it’s important to determine your schedule. Some facilities offer programs that last just a few days – long enough for a patient to detox, but not fully recover. Thirty-day programs are usually considered “short-term”: sufficient for an addict to dry out and feel stable. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, however, recommends a 90-day timetable for individuals to combat their habit. That said, few people can clear their calendars for three months. So you’ll need to decide if rehab is worth quitting your job or significantly disrupting your employment.


Money is another consideration. Medicare covers certain aspects of rehab, and some nonprofit facilities offer low-cost admission, but most treatment centers are thousands of dollars a month. Outpatient stays can cost $3,000-$10,000 (90 days), while inpatient is $5,000-$20,000 (30 days). Per day, the price-tag of detox can run to $250-$500. Make sure that you – or someone you know and trust – can afford the treatment center before you sign up for it, and that your bills are covered in your absence. You’ll want the least amount of stress possible during your recovery, including financial stress, so that you stay at rehab can be an oasis of calm and self-reflection.


Finally, let your friends, loved ones, and coworkers know where you’re going, so that no one is worried about you. One of the most destructive features of addiction is that few addicts admit to themselves they have a problem. That’s why rehabilitation is a physical ordeal, but also requires tremendous honesty and self-confrontation. That you’re willing to ask for help is itself an accomplishment, which other people will recognize. Relieved that you’re addressing the core dysfunction in your life, they’ll probably send you letters or visit you or call, just at the time you need support the most.


Figuring Out Pet Care

One final call to make before leaving is what to do with your pets. If you’re living with or near family, a spouse, or roommates, they might be able to feed your dog or change your cat’s litter box. Expect to pay about $14-19 per hour for a pet sitter to look after even animals that require minimal care, like a turtle or a goldfish. And if you have a dog, you’re in luck. Nowadays the internet is rife with dog service apps that connect you with dog therapists, dog groomers, dog walkers, and more.


Usually, you’ll need to shell out $20-$25 to pay someone to walk your dog for 30 minutes. Twice a day, for the 30-90 days that you’re gone, that can add up, as can the many dog-boarding options out there. Kenneling your dog is usually priced at $25-$45 a night, while more “ritzy” dog hotels ask $50 per night. A pet sitter is about the same. The most reasonable choice is in-house boarding, where people who are usually dog-lovers themselves charge $15/night to hang out with your dog.


More and more, treatment centers are starting to let people check in with their dogs, since pets have been shown to provide a range of benefits to their owners. Some of these perks include assuaging your sense of loneliness, nudging you into a more active lifestyle, and even elevating your serotonin and dopamine levels. (Code for making you a lot happier.) Considering the joy and gentleness that pets introduces in our lives, it makes sense that rehabilitation centers allow them to join their owners to help allay a sense of fear and isolation.


Sometimes an addiction is so severe that you’re forced to face it, the same way you don’t have time to balance your checkbook before rushing to the ER. But for the best experience in rehabilitation, make sure that you’re truly ready for it. That means caring for your pets, arranging your finances, and letting your friends and family know where you are. That you have peace to face your addictions within a refuge from the volatility that drugs introduced into your life is vital to your stay, and to your long-term recovery.

  Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions. 

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