By Alanna Hilbink
You’re tired of the hold drugs and alcohol have over your life. You’re tired of how they make you think, feel and act. Or maybe you’re tired of watching them hurt someone you love. You think rehab might be the right choice, but you’re not sure. There are so many conflicting stories and misconceptions about addiction treatment out there.
So what actually happens in rehab? What is it like? And will you like it?
What Does Rehab Look Like?
Modern recovery facilities are warm and welcoming. At Skywood, rooms have comfortable beds and big, sunny windows. Shared spaces are cozy and accessible. We have outdoor nature trails for clearing your head, comfortable gathering areas for connecting with staff members and peers, and places to simply sit and relax in the sun. We want Skywood to be your home in every way while you’re here.
As patients transition home after treatment, we take time to seek feedback about their stay at Skywood and look for ways to make everyone’s experience even better. Through this anonymous survey, we’ve found that our patients are overwhelmingly glad they chose to make Skywood a part of their recovery journey.
What Happens in Rehab?
Once you know where you’ll be staying during treatment, you’ll probably want to know what will happen once you’re there. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that effective treatment usually involves the following steps:
- Detoxification to cleanse the body of addictive substances
- Behavioral counseling
- Medical support
- Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety
- Long-term follow-up to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse1
At Skywood, you’ll receive an in-depth assessment when you arrive, and this will provide an initial outline for what will happen next. Your treatment team will explain every step and what you can expect from each phase so you never feel lost or overwhelmed. What happens in treatment should not be a surprise. You can — and should — ask any and every question you have. And remember, you always have a say in what happens related to your care and treatment.
So Where Do I Start?
Rehab starts with detox and stabilization. This means you begin by getting physically healthy and have a strong foundation for building your new life in recovery. Skywood offers medically supervised detox services, so you will be safe and supported by medical professionals throughout the process. We monitor your physical health and treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise. We provide prescription or over-the-counter medications if they are part of your treatment plan.
We’re also here for you on a personal level. You can build relationships with peers who are going through the same season of life as you. And you’ll have access to compassionate counselors and understanding, professional staff members whenever you need them, any time of day or night.
You don’t have to face the challenges of detox alone. We want you to be able to focus on long-term recovery rather than short-term health. We help you get ready to begin the next stages of treatment as soon as possible. In fact, when you choose treatment at Skywood, you can begin therapy and other elements of treatment even as you finish up your detox.
What Is Therapy Like?
Therapy is the real heart of any treatment program. It takes different shapes depending on your individual needs, and it changes as you grow and change. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment clearly states, “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone.”2
Each individualized treatment plan at Skywood varies depending on the types of drugs used, the types of mental health issues involved and the characteristics and desires of the patient. Matching treatment settings, interventions and services to an individual’s particular needs is critical to his or her ultimate success. The “right” way to recover is the way that works for you.
In individual therapy, you have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with a counselor or therapist. He or she helps you better understand yourself and your addiction. The American Psychological Association explains that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, one of the practices offered at Skywood, can teach you how to recognize, avoid and manage triggers.3 And therapy is more than just talk. It gives you the tools and strategies you need to stay sober. It shows you how to apply these in your life. Different types of therapy will also be able to help you with anger management, stress management and grief.
Group therapy is another essential part of rehab. Group therapy lets you practice interpersonal skills in a safe, understanding space. It helps you learn you are not alone in your addiction experiences, and you never have to be alone in recovery. No matter where you come from or where you want to go, recovery gives you the opportunity to meet people who support and understand you.
Skywood firmly believes in using these evidence-based individual and group therapy methods. We also believe therapy can be active, hands-on and exciting. Alternative therapies can get you outdoors, trying new things and having fun while also learning more about yourself, your emotions and your recovery. Skywood offers experiential, adventure, yoga, art and equine therapy. We encourage you to supplement your recovery with these and other alternative treatment options.
Do I Get to See My Friends and Family?
Before going to treatment, you may wonder if you’ll get to see your friends and family while you’re there. As with most elements of treatment, this varies depending on what you need and where you are in your recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains, “In the first phase, an adult’s contact with family, friends and job may be restricted. An adolescent may be able to have contact with his or her parents but not with friends or with school. This restriction helps the person become part of the treatment community and adjust to the treatment setting.”5
If your loved one is in a residential treatment program, it’s important that you know and understand the program rules and expectations. Friends and family may not know how to help. This is why Skywood offers a family program with psychoeducational and experiential sessions, as well as family weekends. You’ll get opportunities to talk with your loved ones and show them the progress you’re making. And you’ll have the option to include them in the healing process and in your plan for the future.
What About My Mental Health?
All of Skywood’s programs are tailored to treat co-occurring mental health and addiction issues. This is also called dual diagnosis or integrated treatment and is crucial for taking care of the whole person. The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares a few facts about mental health:
- Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the US — 43.8 million or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year.
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the US — 9.8 million or 4 percent — experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
- Among the 20.2 million adults in the US who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5 percent — 10.2 million adults — also had a co-occurring mental illness.4
If you struggle with addiction, it’s normal to also struggle with a mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder or an anxiety disorder. In fact, you may even face two or more of these issues together. But like addiction, these are all treatable. And Skywood recognizes the importance of doing just that. We know how important your mental health is both for your quality of life and for your sobriety. We make sure mental health care is coordinated and integrated into your comprehensive treatment plan.
What Else Happens in Rehab?
Rehab will keep you engaged with a structured daily plan tailored to your needs. There are meals, classes, appointments and, yes, free time. Take a look at this sample weekly schedule for an idea of what a typical day at Skywood might look like. Every person’s experience will be unique, but this gives you a good idea of what you can expect on a daily basis.
Your day may start with a medical check-in or with medication. This depends on your unique needs. Do you need maintenance medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms or cravings? Do you need medication to treat depression, anxiety or other co-occurring mental health issues? Do you have co-occurring physical health concerns that require ongoing treatment? We give you time to meet with doctors and psychiatrists to find balance in your recovery.
Mornings and evenings may involve structured meditation, reflection or contemplation. These practices are different for everyone. You don’t have to sit cross-legged and hum (unless that’s what works for you!). Your therapy team will help you come up with great ways to process your thoughts and feelings about the day that just happened or the day to come. This may involve traditional meditation, gentle yoga, journaling or any strategy that speaks to you.
Meals at Skywood focus on getting everyone together. They concentrate on building your physical health and good nutrition, with an emphasis on fresh, flavorful foods. You can get nutritional counseling as well, so you can continue to cook and eat well long after your stay at Skywood comes to an end.
Every rehab experience is unique, and your schedule will change as your recovery needs change. SAMHSA explains that recovery involves phases, “with different expectations and activities during each phase.”5 As your primary recovery skills get stronger, you may begin to focus on other areas of your life.
So you may begin your recovery journey by spending the most time in individual therapy, group therapy and meetings with doctors and psychiatrists. As your recovery progresses, you can begin to work on planning for returning home after treatment, learning new life skills and practicing parenting and relationship techniques. We want you to succeed in all areas of life, not just in staying away from drugs or alcohol. Your goals, and what you need to learn or practice to accomplish them, will shape what rehab looks like for you.
Will I Like Rehab?
Now you have a better idea of what rehab looks like and what happens while you’re there. But will you like it? One great way to find out is to talk with program alumni and other people in recovery. Another is to take a look at real patient feedback and individual reviews.
Of course, you will have your own, unique treatment experience. But we do our best to make sure that experience is one that both allows you to enjoy your time at Skywood and helps you grow for what’s next.
What Happens After Rehab?
Treatment isn’t over once your time at Skywood ends. And we won’t leave you wondering where to go and what to do next. In fact, aftercare planning begins as soon as day 10 in treatment. Rehab is all about preparing you for a drug-free life, not a drug-free stay at a facility.
This gives our treatment team plenty of time to get to know you. It gives us time to talk with you about your home life, your goals and your needs. We give you the tools you need to pursue sobriety, but we also give you the support you need to practice and use those tools. That support looks different for everyone. It depends on your personal history, your challenges and your goals.
As you start your new life in recovery, it’s vital to get connected with an aftercare community, like Skywood’s nationwide Life Challenge program, that can help you transition back into everyday life at your own pace. Aftercare helps you develop the skills you learned in rehab and connect with others who can help you as you put those skills into practice. It can even help educate your family and friends about addiction and recovery. We want your new life to have every benefit it can. When you’re at Skywood, we will help you create a transition plan, find transitional living, outpatient care, local therapists and support group meetings.
How Do I Find the Right Rehab?
Reach out to us at Skywood to learn more about what rehab is really like and what type of treatment is best for you or a loved one. Our admissions coordinators are ready to help 24 hours a day.
We want to get to know you and your individual needs so we can connect you with the individualized treatment that’s going to help you start a new life. We can answer specific questions, offer information about our programs and get the ball rolling toward admission right now, all over the phone. Please call and let us help you start your recovery journey.
Note: All of the images accompanying this article are actual photographs of Skywood’s facilities and grounds.
1 “Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2018.
2Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. National Institute on Drug Abuse, January 2018.
3 Winerman, Lea. “Breaking Free From Addiction.” American Psychological Association, June 2013.
4 “Mental Health by the Numbers.” National Alliance on Mental Illness, Accessed February 19, 2018.
5What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, January 2014.