By Cecelia Johnson @ Recognition Works
If you’re struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you might feel like there’s no one out there who truly understands what you’re going through. You may even worry that no one would want to understand. But what if I told you there are hundreds of people who don’t just grasp the concept of addiction, but truly relate to the challenges it brings?
According to the addiction treatment graduates I spoke to, rehabilitation is just the place to find that understanding. Here are the ways they told me that the people and experiences in treatment helped change their lives for the better.
The people in treatment DON’T judge …
Addiction comes with a serious stigma. Some don’t understand that it’s a disease, and therefore believe people choose to give in to it. Often, this leads to harsh judgment of substance abusers, even those making genuine efforts to get clean.
Zach admitted that although he knew he’d be meeting others like him in treatment, he still wasn’t sure they’d accept him.
“When I got there, I felt empty and alone,” he confessed. “I was ashamed of myself, I felt guilty, and I didn’t think anyone else was going through what I was going through. I had a wife and kids, other people I was responsible for. I thought I’d go there and have people judging me.”
However, when he arrived for treatment at the Treehouse in Texas, he had a much different experience than expected: he wasn’t just welcomed, he was truly embraced.
“I had just gotten out of my intake with the nurse, and she introduced me to someone. He said, ‘Hey, friend! What are you here for?’ And I told him. He said, ‘Don’t be ashamed — we’re all addicts here!’” Zach recalled.
It may be hard to believe — especially if you’ve faced harsh criticism at home — but treatment isn’t about judging. It’s about healing.
… and they DO understand.
Think you’ve got the worst possible story? Convinced that no one on this planet has made as many mistakes as you, or at the very least as many BIG mistakes as you? Think again.
Wendy, who now works at the rehab center where she found lasting sobriety, said that the patients she meets frequently have much in common.
“When I take clients back to [the treatment facility] after meetings, they often say, ‘Wow, someone shared a story today that sounded so much like what I’ve been through. I can’t believe it!’ Everyone thinks they’re out there alone, but when you’re in recovery, you meet a lot of people who know what you’re going through,” she explained.
Sally, who recently celebrated one year of sobriety, agreed that leaning on your peers is a crucial part of the recovery process.
“It’s support in all different ways, whether it’s someone listening to you about things you’ve never gotten off your chest, or support after a rough day and you can just laugh together,” she said. “You have to have it all when you’re going through it. If nobody cared, we’d all be screwed.”
You feel the positive effects even after you’ve left
Going home following treatment can be tough for anyone, but John said that his experience in treatment made him eager, not anxious, to get his life back on track.
“When I went home, I didn’t feel used. I wanted to make the people who invested in me with their hearts, not just their program, proud,” he remembered.
John explained that rehab taught him to accept himself as he was, flaws and all. The support he gained gave him courage, even on his tough days.
“They gave me a part of their heart through the process,” he said. “I felt more willing to keep going when I was outside knowing that it’s OK to not be OK outside of treatment.”
If you’re struggling with an addiction, hope is out there, and there are countless people who have experienced the same issues that you’re facing — you just need to be willing to reach out and find the path to healing that you deserve.
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Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. Our purpose is to provide high quality online continuing education (CE) courses on topics relevant to members of the healthcare professions we serve. We strive to keep our carbon footprint small by being completely paperless, allowing telecommuting, recycling, using energy-efficient lights and powering off electronics when not in use. We provide online CE courses to allow our colleagues to earn credits from the comfort of their own home or office so we can all be as green as possible (no paper, no shipping or handling, no travel expenses, etc.). Sustainability isn’t part of our work – it’s a guiding influence for all of our work.
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