If you’ve never been to treatment before, deciding to go might cause a great deal of anxiety. After all, one of the most difficult concepts for an addict to grasp is the idea of change. Another is powerlessness, both of which are two elements that come with deciding to go to treatment. The first day of treatment is unusual compared to most other days, as things like the intake process occurs, as well as an orientation and sometimes an introduction to the group.
Upon arriving, most often your belongings and your person is checked, usually done by a member of the same sex, to make sure that drugs aren’t being brought in. Another reason for the spot search is to make sure that other contraband like knives or anything containing alcohol isn’t brought in either purposely or by mistake. Your things are brought into a different room while you’re being privately searched so that they can be searched as well. Some facilities allow cell phones, but there are some that do not allow it within the first few days or the entire stay. If possible, having an iPod or CD player without Internet is probably your safest bet if you’re planning to listen to music. Most literature is permitted, but being tasteful with your choices would be strongly encouraged as well.
After being searched, a drug screen is performed. The drug screen, commonly called a “UA” or urinanalysis is used to detect which drugs are in your system as well as how much. A breathalyzer is also used upon intake to see how much alcohol is in a clients system. The reason for both of these is so that the doctor can have a more accurate understanding of the correct dosage to use for detox meds, as well as to be careful not to prescribe any medications that may react adversely.
After you’ve been tested, a series of questions is generally performed, which are also referred to as a pre-screen assessment and a psych social. These assessments are used to help the therapy staff have a general understanding of different aspects of your life and mental health, and may include questions such as:
It’s important to be honest while answering the assessment, as it allows your therapist as well as the treatment team a level of insight into your life, and may influence how best to help you during your treatment. Although reliving trauma may be painful, do your best to be as honest as you can without feeling too uncomfortable. If you need, you can ask to speak directly to your therapist if you feel more comfortable.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably felt extremely uncomfortable on your first day of work or school. Treatment is a lot like that, at least the first day of treatment can be. Fortunately, staff is always around to make the transition a bit smoother, and so they will introduce you to the rest of your peers. There’s no need to be shy or embarrassed, as everybody else is there for the same reason as you: to get help.
Generally, the first day is used to adjust to being in treatment, especially if you’re detoxing off of drugs and alcohol when you enter, or if you’re still intoxicated. Take it easy and relax. There’s snacks available if you’re hungry, and the staff on site is there to help, so don’t be shy asking. Most personal hygiene toiletries are provided too, in case you’ve forgotten to pack a toothbrush. Weekly sometimes daily trips to the store are made for cigarettes and other items, so if necessary you can ask to have some toiletries purchased as well.
A release of information is necessary if you’d like to be able to have family or friends contact you. Write down their numbers before you go to treatment, as usually during detox staff will take your phone for your own safety and protection. Most facilities have scheduled phone call times where they allow clients to make phone calls. If you’d like to have somebody be able to call you, filling out a release for each person is necessary due to privacy laws and compliances. If you’ve lost a number or need to get one out of your phone, your therapist may be able to help you if you ask. There are of course specific phone calls you will be allowed to make. Maybe you need to talk to your probation officer, a human resources manager at your job, or a lawyer. Generally the treatment center will help you arrange for times to make these calls in private.
Treatment can be difficult to adjust to. Most of us are used to being in control, and relinquishing that control can seem foreign or uncomfortable to us. Trusting the process and realizing that treatment centers function the way they do for a reason can help to alleviate any anxiety you may be feeling. Resistance generally only causes more discomfort, so remember that when you’ve reached the point in your addiction when you need treatment, it’s now become a life or death situation. If you find yourself getting upset or frustrated, ask yourself if what you’re upset about will matter ten years from now. Most commonly, it won’t.
The first day of treatment is one of the most important days of your life. It’s the start of a new beginning, and it truly is the first day of the rest of your life. Be gentle on yourself and allow yourself to remain open and willing. If you need help, your treatment team and staff members will be there to guide you every step of the way. You might even make a friend or two out of being in treatment along the way, too.