By: Kelly Fitzgerald - 07/04/16
I was too proud, too stubborn, and my ego was too big. Knowing what I know today after being sober for 3 years, treatment is readily available and help is out there, but most people never ask for it. At the time I knew addiction treatment existed, but I was terrified of going or even considering the possibility. If I could go back, I would go to rehab with bells on. I’ll explain why.
1. I wouldn’t have been so lonely.
At the beginning of my sobriety I felt extremely alone. Addiction is a very isolating disease. During my first year of my sobriety, I was pretty much the only sober person I knew. Because I was too stubborn to go to treatment I missed out on connecting with others who have been through the same situations I’ve been through. I didn’t have the chance to really connect with others in early sobriety, for that reason I still felt extremely alone.
2. I would have gotten answers.
Like everyone in early sobriety, I was a mess. I was hurt, confused, and overwhelmed by a variety of different emotions. I didn’t know whether what I was feeling was normal or not. I was vulnerable and scared. Going to treatment for my addiction could have given me a lot of the answers I was looking for. Was I going to be okay? Was it normal to feel that way? How do I do this thing? With addiction professionals and peers who are going through the same thing, a stay in rehab could have helped me answer these questions.
3. I could have talked face-to-face with therapists.
Therapists and addiction professionals exist to help people like me. Unfortunately, I deprived myself of this help. I didn’t believe I needed face-to-face help at the time I got sober, but now I know that I could benefited from it greatly. Being able to communicate with someone who is trained in helping you cope with your addiction issues is imperative to getting better. These therapists could have helped me endure those first grueling months of sobriety. They could have taught me healthy coping mechanisms.
4. I could have heard of the war stories of others like me.
One of the most powerful components of my recovery is hearing other people’s stories and sharing my own. In my first year of sobriety, I read a lot of books about drinking, including memoirs. Hearing those stories really resonated with me, but it was nothing like hearing them in person. When I finally began to attend 12-step meetings I loved the speaker meetings where real people shared their experience, strength, and hope through stories. Still to this day, it’s the type of meeting that I can relate to most. If I had gone to rehab in the beginning I could have heard more of these stories from the start and may have healed at a quicker rate.
5. Someone could have explained to me what the 12 steps were.
During my first months of sobriety I was too terrified to even go to a 12-step meeting. I was ashamed and couldn’t face people in real life, and I didn’t know what to expect at a meeting. I tried attending a few meetings online in chat rooms, but I didn’t understand what anyone was talking about or what literature they were referencing. Eventually I quit those. If I had spoken up and gone to rehab, I would have had someone explain to me the 12 steps, how they work, and what the meetings are like. This could have eased my fear about attending them in the future.
6. I could have detoxed in a safe way.
I don’t know if my body was physically addicted to alcohol. I say that I don’t think it was, but I definitely remember experiencing some withdrawal symptoms days and weeks after quitting. I felt exhausted, slept badly, felt bloated, sick, and depressed. It was only after I began to learn about addiction and withdrawal that I realized that’s what I might have been experiencing. Going to rehab would have given me a proper diagnosis and medical treatment if needed. Detox could have helped me rid my body of the harmful substances I was using and set me on the path to recovery under safe medical care.
7. I could have explained better what was happening to me.
Being without answers for the first year of my recovery left it difficult for me to explain myself to others. I was open about my sobriety from the beginning and I told my family and friends I was quitting. Some of them understood, others did not. Had I known more about the disease of addiction, how it progresses, and how it is treated, I could have passed this information onto the important people in my life. After a lot of research and writing myself, I am now better equipped to explain addiction.
8. I would have had camaraderie from the beginning.
For those of us in recovery we know that connection is incredibly important. I didn’t understand how important it was until I started attending 12-step meetings 1.5 years into my sobriety. Women rallied around me, loved me, were there for me, and I finally began to understand the word camaraderie. I also began connecting with other sober bloggers and forming a sense of community online. This component of camaraderie is one I’ve incorporated into my recovery program that I wish I could have gotten from heading to rehab when I first made the decision to get sober.
Rehab offers us a bridge between addiction and recovery. It can be the help we are so desperately seeking, but are afraid to ask for.