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Checklist: How to Prepare Yourself for Treatment

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Checklist: How to Prepare Yourself for Treatment

So you’ve finally made the decision to get help — or at least came to the realization that you might need help. Admitting there’s a problem is a huge step. We get it. Which is why we also understand that the ability to come up with reasons (read: excuses) for avoiding actually going to treatment doesn’t disappear just because you’ve realized you have a problem.

prepare yourself for treatment

The good news is all you need to think about while you’re in treatment is just that: treatment. In order to prepare yourself for treatment, you need to let the small things go and get your mind in recovery mode. If you rolled your eyes while “Easier said than done” echoed through your mind, then keep reading because we’ll make it easier for you.

Step One: Tie Up Loose Ends Before Going In

That probably sounds like one big step. It is. But it’s crucial, as a good majority of people who go to a treatment center end up distracted by the of plethora loose ends they left at home.

Detoxing your body of all drugs and alcohol is only a small piece of recovery. The heavy lifting comes when you begin actively working on a recovery program. You don’t want to be distracted by anything while your mind should be set on recovery. Because addiction literally changes your brain physiology, recovery has to undo the havoc while instilling healthy tools, behaviors, and habits. That can’t properly happen if you’re worried about losing your Netflix account because you forgot to pay it before going to treatment.

To better prepare yourself for treatment and get in the right mental state, it might help to know what actually happens while you’re in rehab.

Here’s a quick look at the basics of residential treatment:

  • Getting connected with your own case manager
  • Individual therapy sessions with features like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and trauma recovery
  • Group therapy to relearn how to be open and honest with others while giving/receiving guidance and support to/from peers
  • Social activities — allows you to get out and build connections/fellowship

Recovery Kryptonite: Why Are Addicts So Worried About the Small Things?

An addict will decide they need help, reach out to a treatment center, and then not go in because they’re not sure who can take care of their pet. Or they will admit into treatment and feel as if they need to leave because they can’t remember if they left their car in a tow zone.

These situations might sound absurd if you haven’t struggled with addiction first-hand. But they’re not at all absurd to an addict.

prepare yourself for treatmentAddicts’ basic needs are completely different than everyone else. Most substances hijack the brain’s reward system by triggering abnormally large surges of dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for those pleasurable feelings a user feels when they’re high. Over time, the user will build up a tolerance while dopamine levels are depleted. Eventually, they won’t be able to feel pleasure and life will be intolerable without the drug. Using becomes a matter of survival. The brain will create shortcuts in which the be-all-end-all is survival to save itself the extended efforts of cognitive processing. In other words, addicts will make fast decisions to survive.

The biggest fast decision is to use their drug of choice to survive. But an addict will become so used to thinking this way that they’ll apply it to trivial situations that aren’t actually matters of life or death. At this point, they’ve lost the ability to consistently be able to distinguish between a need and a want. This is how checking to make sure their car didn’t get towed becomes an urgent matter worth leaving treatment for.

Checklist: Things You Should Handle vs. Things That Don’t Matter

Here’s the bottom line: your recovery is the most important thing in your life at this moment. Getting sober and learning the tools to live in recovery are critical for everything else to even be possible. So there shouldn’t be many things that get in the way when you prepare yourself for treatment.

Important Matters:

  • “Who’s going to take care of my kids?”

    Family Responsibilities

    If you are someone’s caregiver, then this is the most important thing to take care of to prepare yourself for treatment. Whether you have children, take care of your elderly parents, or are the sole owner of your dog, make sure your loved ones have someone to take care of them while you’re away. It’s likely that you have other loved ones who will happily take on a few caregiver responsibilities temporarily if it means that you’ll get clean. But if not, there are affordable temporary care options you can look into.

  • “I’ll lose my job if I go away for rehab.”

    Work Obligations

    Did you know the Family and Medical Leave Act will cover your treatment? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires companies with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of time off with no repercussions. That means your employer cannot fire you if you take an extended leave for medical reasons.

  • “I have a court appearance in a week, so I can’t leave.”

    Legal & Financial Concerns

    If you have court obligations, make sure they know you’re leaving for treatment and you’ll likely be out of touch — at least for the detox portion.

    Finances are also important. Yes, bills can technically wait and be resolved later, but returning from treatment saddled with financial stress will not do any good while you’re in the vulnerable state of early recovery. Prepare yourself for treatment by handling important bills before coming in, whether that means pre-paying, setting up auto payments, or asking someone you fully trust to handle a couple of bills while you’re away.


All of these may seem like urgent matters, but they can’t hold a candle to the opportunity to get help for your addiction. Entertaining these distractions is not how you prepare yourself for treatment.

  • “I forgot to pay for my Netflix account.”

  • “I’m going to need a new vape while I’m in treatment.”

  • “I have to fix my car’s engine before leaving.”

  • “My mail is going to pile up.”

  • “I’m going to miss my company’s work retreat.”

  • “My girlfriend and I haven’t slept apart from each other in five years. We can’t separate now.”

How to Prepare Yourself for Treatment Mentally

prepare for rehab

Learn How Your Program Works

Part of the fear of going to rehab is not knowing what to expect. A good treatment program will personalize its program to each client, so it’s not really possible to understand exactly what treatment will be like for you until you get there. But there are things you can do to dissolve that fear of the unexpected. Speak to the admissions counselors and ask any and every question you have. They’ll be happy to answer. You can also look through the program’s website for more information. The best places to look will be a program features page and previous client reviews.

Talk to Your Loved Ones

The people who love you most want the absolute best for you. So, naturally, they’ll be supportive of your decision to go to treatment. Spending time with these people before going to treatment will help ease tension, get you in the right mindset, and inspire you to do what’s best for yourself.

Let Go of the Little Things

Try your best to focus solely on the fact that you need help now and nothing else really matters. Anything that could distract from your recovery should be considered “little things” at this point. You can always get those things squared away after treatment, but this might be a narrow opportunity to change your life. That’s what matters right now.

Bring the Essentials

Ask an admissions counselor for a list of basic necessities that you should bring. Try to stick to that list. Getting a list or suggestions directly from the treatment facility will help you feel more comfortable about what you do and don’t need. Making a conscious effort not to stray from that list will ensure you don’t bring any distractions. Of course, if you have belongings that ease your anxiety and won’t cause harm to your recovery, go ahead and make sure it’s okay if you bring them. The treatment staff want you to be as comfortable as possible, after all.

Deciding to seek treatment is up to you, but we can help from there. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our addiction counselors are standing by 24/7 by phone: 855-737-7363

Posted in Detox, Recovery, Residential