Entering detox is the first stage of recovery, and for almost everyone, it’s a scary proposition. Most have experience at least temporarily abstaining from drugs and/or alcohol, and have some idea as to what’s in store… and let’s face it, it ain’t pretty. There’s going to be some degree of pain, loss of sleep and a lot of time spent being, well…miserable. In good conscious I can’t sugarcoat this, but there are a few things to know going in that might make this transition a little easier.

Honesty: A lot of people exaggerate their daily drug intake upon admission in order to get larger doses of detox meds. This is particularly prevalent in those who are coming off of opiates. This is a somewhat understandable practice, but in the long run, it’s just not a good idea. What you’re going to end up doing is prolonging the inevitable. At some point in your detox, you’re going to reach a point where pain is an uncomfortable reality, and it’s generally better to get this out of the way at the earliest possible time.

Another factor is that the doctors who work in treatment are all too aware of this, and usually take this into consideration when making their diagnosis and administering a detox schedule.

An open mind: Unless you’re revisiting a facility, you’re going to be entering a treatment center that has its own way of doing things. Granted that treatment modalities are often similar from rehab to rehab, but there will always be new wrinkles, not to mention new staff members that you’re going to be interacting with. As much as you may kick and scream, it’s important to remember that these people are here to help, not to make your misery greater. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in the process of building new relationships with these people, not to end them.

Downtime: Yes, you’re going to have some. Most facilities don’t require those in detox to attend every group in the treatment plan, and you also might not be strong enough to attend outings such as 12-step meetings or movies/shopping in the early stages. You’re going to have to say bye-bye to the Internet, at least on a day-to-day level. Electronic devices such as cell phones, personal computers, tablets, etc. will either be completely withheld or at the very least, your access to them will be extremely limited. Television will probably be limited to certain periods after program hours.

Treatment facilities spend quite a bit of energy making sure that you don’t isolate too much, but by the same token, they understand that you need a certain amount of time to yourself in the healing process. Remember, you are indeed a sick person in a medical facility. Reading material is a great idea here. If you enjoy reading, even a little bit, it just may prevent you from losing your mind. So much of your time is spent in group settings (and in detox, just catching up on sleep when you can get it) that the simple activity of reading a book or magazine can enable you to have some quality time to yourself, and it also exercises a part of your brain that needs nourishment that the printed word can provide. A couple of books and/or magazines when you’re packing for detox is an excellent idea.

Cleanliness: Most of us coming off of a run haven’t always been keeping up with daily hygiene or laundry. As arduous as it may seem at first, keeping yourself and your clothing clean will make you feel a lot better on a daily basis, and will indeed aid in your overall rehabilitation. All rehabs/detox have some free of charge laundry facilities for exactly this reason.

New friends: You’re going to meet a lot of new people in detox, and it’s very, very important to have some camaraderie, but you’re there for yourself first, not to make friends with everyone. Too many co-dependent relationships spring up in treatment, and if you’re in detox for even a week or two, you’re going to hear about a pair of people that went out together and relapsed. It’s a sad fact that this is the nature of the beast. Look out for number one is the best advice here.

Try to spend some time with the residents whom have been there for a while and are progressing. “Stick with the winners”? You bet. In the end, the best thing to remember in detox is that this will end and your misery is not forever. It’s the first step in the long road of rehabilitation, and by keeping your eye on the prize, you’re going to get through this!