How Do I Prepare for Rehab?

Addiction Treatment Center in Oregon

How Do I Prepare for Rehab?

Addiction Treatment Center in Oregon

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Steps To Preparing For Rehab

So you’ve made the decision to seek treatment (or at least you’re looking). While taking this first step should be celebrated, it can also be overwhelming. Maybe you’re wondering how to check into rehab? Or what do you need to pack? How do you talk to people about why you’re leaving? 


Below, we’ve put together an easy guide you can use to make the planning process a little less stressful. 

Table of Contents

Two people discussing how to check into rehab

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What To Tell People

Family holding hands as loved one decides how to prepare for rehab

Telling someone that you’re going to rehab can be anxiety-inducing. To assist you in this process, we’ve given some examples of what you can say to the different people in your life. 


No matter how much or how little you want to disclose, try to remain truthful in what you tell people. For example, you could say, “I need some time for myself.” If they push you further, you can say, “I’m not in a place where I want to talk about this right now, but I appreciate your concern.” When you lay a strong boundary like this, most people will respect your privacy and stop prying.

Close Friends and Loved Ones

Make a list of the people you feel comfortable with — the ones you want to inform about your treatment decision. Try to connect with them before you leave, whether that’s a phone call or meeting up for coffee or dinner. 


Rather than focusing on why you’re going to a rehab center, instead focus on connecting with them and expressing your gratitude for having them in your life.

Colleagues and Boss

Remember, you don’t owe any explanation to your boss or coworkers. If you feel this will be a sensitive issue to bring up, you can ask a doctor to write you a letter stating that you need 30 days of medical leave. In this letter, the doctor does not need to reveal what treatment is required or what you’re being treated for.


At the same time, if you feel like your boss could be a support system, you can share however much feels comfortable to you. With this option, you may be able to come to an agreement on working remotely as well. 


When it comes to actually explaining your leave, you can simply tell colleagues you’re taking a Leave of Absence. Remember to coordinate any reassigning or management of projects that may need to happen in your absence. 

Mother laughing with daughter before going to rehab

Your Kids

It can be confusing for young children to hear that their mom or dad is leaving for an extended amount of time. 


Try to keep it simple. If the kids are old enough, tell them the truth. Chances are your kids have noticed your behavior, and might be relieved that you’re seeking help. 


If your children are quite young, you can just tell them that you’re leaving for a little bit, but when you come back, you’ll be happier and healthier than ever. 


Overall, try to only briefly talk about yourself. Shift the focus onto them; reassure them that you’re not abandoning them and that you love them very much. 


In the days leading up to your departure, try to do something special for each of your kids. Even if it’s small, like cooking their favorite meal or getting some ice cream. While this will feel special to them, it will also ease a little of the pressure you’re feeling from going to treatment. 


Additionally, some treatment facilities allow you to use your phone and laptop while in treatment. If you want to stay in touch with your kids and family members, seek out such a program. Now, you can do nightly Zoom or Facetime sessions, which will make the distance much easier for everyone.  

Mentally & Emotionally Preparing for Rehab

From the moment you commit to getting help, you’re creating a new phase in your life. Think of this time as an opportunity to reinvent any aspects of yourself that you want to change. Reconnect with the parts of yourself that you’ve repressed or denied since your drug abuse or alcohol addiction took hold. 


Whether at home or on the plane ride over, take some time to think about what you’re passionate about and what you want to accomplish. Write down a few of these things. A few options could be:


    • Write a book
    • Pursue a new profession
    • Go after that promotion
    • Go back to school
    • Start dating again
    • Get back in the pool and swim regularly
    • Quit smoking


After you’ve written your list, begin to brainstorm how you can engage with these things that deeply matter to you. If you’re not sure, bring it up to the rehab staff and therapists.


At the end of the day, this is the time to truly nurture the things that give you joy.

Writing list of goals before preparing for rehab

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Packing while learning how to prepare for rehab

What’s Allowed?

Ask your program for a list of items that are and are not allowed. This will make your admission go much more smoothly. A few common items that are not permitted in residential treatment are:


    • Inappropriate clothing
    • Energy drinks
    • Cigars
    • Lighters
    • Any toiletry containing alcohol (including mouthwash, hairspray, and nail polish remover)

Sort Through Your Scented Items

Some programs restrict what toiletries and perfumes are permitted (out of respect of clients’ sensitivities and allergies.) So if your favorite cologne is pungent, or your shampoo is very aromatic, you’ll probably want to leave those at home.

Check Out the Climate

Are you going somewhere tropical? It’s probably best to bring lighter clothes and a swimsuit. At the same time, nights can get chilly and there can be rain, so make sure to pack a jacket, at least one pair of pants, and a good pair of walking shoes or hiking boots.


The same question applies if you’re going to a rehab facility nestled in the mountains. Make sure you pack a coat, hat, and boots if you’re going in the snowy season.

Dress Comfortably

You’re going to be going through some deeply personal work, that can be intense at times. You also might be jumping up and down for experiential therapy or hiking down to a beach. The point is — you’re going to want to be comfortable. While you may dress glamorously in your everyday life, it’s okay to heal in comfy (but appropriate) clothing.

Consider Your Makeup Routine

Maybe at home you put on a full face of makeup each morning, and spend a half an hour doing your hair. We welcome clients to do whatever makes them feel comfortable, but please don’t think you’ll be judged if you slim down your routine and skip your eye shadow and liner.


*Also a tip – therapy sessions can get deeply emotional, so if you wear mascara, you may consider bringing a waterproof variety.


Addicted to the Monkey Mind by JF Benoist book cover

Bring a Good Book or Two

Reading can be the perfect way to relax between therapy sessions. If you do enjoy reading, we recommend bringing a few different books.


We’ve found that the best books seem to be ones that complement the work you’re doing in the program. A few books we’d recommend are: 


In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate


Addicted to the Monkey Mind: Change the Programming That Sabotages Your Life by our very own founder JF Benoist


The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz


Medications & Insurance Card

Check with the rehab on the requirements of the prescription medication you bring. Some programs require that you only bring sealed, unopened medication bottles. If this is the case, make sure you leave yourself enough time to get a month-long supply refilled from your pharmacy before leaving home.  

If you’re planning on submitting an insurance claim for your addiction treatment (or having the rehab staff submit it on your behalf) please remember to bring your insurance card.

Consents, Medical Records, and Paperwork Signed

Rehabs need your medical records before you come in, so they can safely prepare for your arrival and detox (if you need to detox).


You also need to complete and sign any pre-admission paperwork.

Woman therapeutically sketching

Bring Something You’re Passionate About

Consider this time away as an opportunity to reignite a passion of yours. Love drawing or painting? Bring a sketchbook to capture the beautiful natural surroundings.


Or if you play an instrument, feel free to bring it along to practice. You can even pull it out and play along during an evening of music therapy!

Don’t Bring Expensive Jewelry or Too Much Cash

The payment you make prior to your arrival will cover the vast majority of your needs while in treatment. The only time you may want some spending money is while you’re out on an excursion. (And even this would be minimal).


For this reason, we don’t recommend bringing more than $500 in cash. Also, please leave the jewels or other non-essential expensive items at home. You won’t have a need for them at the program.

Do Bring a Credit Card

For any additional purchases, it can be handy to have a credit card at the ready so you don’t have to deal with cash.

*While this seems like an exhaustive list of what to pack, don’t put too much pressure on yourself — many programs (like ours) have a wide variety of basic toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, etc. that they can give you.


Additionally, many programs allow you to request an outing to a store (after you’re medically cleared to do so). So if you end up forgetting your sunglasses, no worries — we’ll get you sorted out. 

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Eating Disorder Treatment

  • Anorexia
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Communicating with Your Program

Food preferences at holistic rehab

Your Dietary Preferences

Do you have a food allergy or dietary preference? Make sure to let the rehab program know so they can have the proper food on hand when you arrive.

Transportation Details

Flying in from another state? Remember to let the drug or alcohol rehab know your flight details, so they can have someone ready to pick you up. If you arrive on a weekend or late at night, make sure you have a hotel set up and coordinate travel from the airport to your accommodations.

Pre-admissions Information

Schedule time for any pre-admissions calls you might need to do from home. These may take an hour or two, so make sure you allot the appropriate time.

Steps For Getting Someone Into a Rehab Program

Maybe you’re a family member of someone struggling with an addiction — you’re tired of sitting by and watching your loved one suffer.


When you do decide to approach your loved one about their addiction, there are a few different possible reactions. 


  1. Your loved one listens and agrees to seek treatment.
  2. The person becomes defensive and shuts down the conversation before it can even start. 


The reason the latter happens is because the person isn’t really hearing what you’re saying. In fact, if you say:


“You’re such an amazing person, but this addiction has changed you. You need help.”


They hear: “What’s wrong with you?”


If someone is in this mindset, they’ll go into a shame spiral and not be able to fully comprehend what you’re saying. 


The best way to broach the topic of seeking treatment is to not focus on them getting help. Instead focus on connection, authenticity, and facts. 

Couple discussing how to check into rehab

1) Bring up the topic of recovery in a non-formal way

Before you bring up the subject, try to find an activity that your loved one enjoys that you can also participate in. Maybe they like to walk — ask if you can walk with them.


Maybe they love to golf see if you can go with them. Or maybe they love trying out new restaurants you could recommend getting takeout from new restaurants once a week together.


Now, when you bring up treatment, it won’t seem as confrontational (and the person will be sober and able to hold a deep conversation). 


While you’re doing this activity together, really be in the present moment. Don’t think about your agenda of bringing up rehab. Just enjoy your time together. Inevitably, even if it takes a few weeks, your loved one will offer a window into their pain. This could look like: 


“I’m so stressed out at work.”

“Why can’t Mom just stay out of my business?”

“I’ve had a crappy day – let’s get a couple drinks.”


Whatever it is, take this opportunity to open the door to your conversation. When you do, try to enter this conversation without an agenda.


Also, make sure the two of you are in a private area where no one can overhear your conversation. 

2) Talk about your own experience

Explain how you feel and really be authentic in what you’re saying. This could be:


“I love you, and it’s really hard for me to see that you’re struggling.”


If they start getting defensive, gently stand your ground and ask them to honor your experience and listen to how you’re feeling. Explain that you’re not talking about them – you’re talking about you.

3) Have your research ready

Say they’ve agreed to listen to you. After you’ve said your piece, and they know you’re hurting, ask them how they feel.


Again, don’t bring up the idea of going to treatment yet. Let their response guide you. 


Let’s imagine they respond positively. They really hear what you’re saying, and they’re open to ideas. Now, you come in with options. Make sure you’ve already done some research and have a few good rehab options. Because the window of someone wanting treatment can close quickly, you want to act quickly while they’re enthusiastic about the idea. 

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How Do You Admit Someone to Rehab Who Refuses to Go?

Writing a letter for alcohol or drug intervention

When someone is very resistant to the idea of treatment, there are a few options you can take. 


If you decide to go this route, we’d recommend using a professional interventionist or therapist who has experience facilitating this kind of meeting. They’ll know the best way to format the meeting so your loved one doesn’t feel like you’re all ganging up on them. 


The layout of an intervention will depend on the circumstances, but it usually involves each loved one reading a letter they’ve written. Each letter describes how much each person cares about the individual, so the person struggling is able to feel how much they mean to their family and friends. 


We typically recommend only involving the people closest to the individual, so it doesn’t get to be an overwhelming experience for them. 

Find an ally

Say you’re trying to get your son into treatment. Maybe he won’t listen to you, his parent, but he will listen to his best friend. 


If you feel comfortable (and believe this friend is on the same page about your son’s addiction), you can reach out and set up a time to chat with him. Then you can see if he would be open to broaching the idea of treatment with your son. Or, you can see if he wants to be in on your family intervention. 


Some people take advice from friends better than from family, so think about if this applies in your case.

How to Frame the Conversation with a Reluctant Individual

Now it’s time to actually speak with your resistant loved one. Whether that is in an intervention or using some of the tips above (like talking one-on-one on the golf course).


Remember that most people who deny the issue are coming from a place of extreme fear and shame. To help them, you have to meet them at their level. If you try to push, they’ll go into more shame. 


Remember to have no agenda and lead with compassion. But, if you’ve tried all the previous tactics and they’re still not open to treatment, you can add a few more aspects to your conversation to try and help them see the truth.

two men talking on golf course

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1) Try to understand their hesitation

Something is holding your loved one back from treatment. Understanding their reluctance to go will give you valuable insight. To find out this information, try gently asking:


“Why is it that you’re hesitant to go to treatment?”


They could have a variety of responses:


“I can’t take that much time off work.”

“I don’t want people to think of me differently.”

“It’s too expensive.”


In these cases, you can present some research you’ve done, or offer your resources to help get them in treatment. 


If they say, “I don’t have a problem,” move on to the next step. 

2) Use the facts of what you notice

So they still won’t admit they’re struggling with an addiction. The next option is to use a combination of love and facts. First address the person’s nervous statement by expressing how much you care for them; follow this up with an nonjudgmental observation about their behavior.  


“I love you so much, honey. But did you realize that last night you were slurring your words at the restaurant? I felt uncomfortable about our friends seeing that.”


“You know you mean the world to me, right? And because I do, I wanted to bring up what happened the other night you were passed out on the couch when you were supposed to be watching the kids. That really scared me.”


Have a few examples ready, but don’t just dive into listing them off. We want to stay away from our loved one feeling any shame for their actions, or else they might shut down. 


All the while you’re not saying they need help. You’re just offering up the truth. The hope is that, after you give these examples, the person will at least be able to acknowledge that they did this behavior. If they do, you can ask them how it feels to hear these examples. This opens the door to having a conversation about their substance use disorders.

Calming ocean waves at sunset

If they refuse to listen to this, don’t give up. Be consistent. Every time they exhibit an instance of their addictive behavior, tell them the next day when they’re sober, along with a statement of reassurance that you love them and you aren’t going anywhere.


“You know how much I cherish our talks. You’re such a great listener. But do you remember our conversation from last night? I was telling you about this big client I scored at work, and you didn’t even seem to hear me. Your eyes were glazed over and you wouldn’t look at me… I felt neglected.” 


“I am always in awe of your outgoing attitude — I just love you so much! But I did want to bring something up. Do you remember last night at the party? I had said I wasn’t feeling well and wanted to leave, but then you decided to have another two drinks. I felt like you were disregarding me.”


Remember to consistently state the facts of what happened and how it made you feel. Don’t project anything about what they should or shouldn’t have done. 


By regularly naming these observations, hopefully your loved one will learn that it’s safe to discuss their addiction with you, and come to acknowledge that their behavior is not healthy. Just remember to be patient with the process and don’t give up. Loving someone means being there for them, and also telling the truth, even when it’s hard.

Sending Someone to Rehab Who Doesn’t Want to Be There

There are some treatment programs that will accept people who desperately do not want to be in treatment. Sometimes this is court-ordered, other times it’s from an ultimatum from their family. Whatever the reason, this sets a much more difficult path to sobriety for this individual.


While this approach can work for some people, for many it doesn’t. Sure, they’ll get sober for 30 days, but if they haven’t addressed the deeper reasons why they’re abusing drugs or alcohol, there likely won’t be any long-term change. 


For reference, think about the last time you did something just to get someone off your back. How much did you enjoy the process? Did you put your full energy into it? 


Ultimately, the chances of sobriety are higher if you help your loved one see what they’re doing, and show them that you care about them (despite their mistakes). 

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Avive la Vie Private Rehab

At Avive la Vie, we offer one of the most private and individualized recovery treatments in the United States.

Customized, Holistic Services

We believe that addiction doesn’t just affect one aspect of ourselves. It’s pervasive to our entire being — body, mind, and soul.


For this reason, we treat your addiction from all sides. We offer a combination of holistic services to assist in your healing. These include: 

  • Yoga
  • Nutritional therapy
  • Emotional intelligence tools
  • Acupuncture
  • Nature & beach excursions
  • Mindful Inquiry skills
  • Conscious breathing sessions

We also have a full medical team on staff to administer a comprehensive detox protocol and address any health questions or concerns you have. 

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Private Space to Unwind

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  • Shared or private bedrooms
  • Small, customized program

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Non 12 Step Approach

Our Non 12 Step therapy combines individual and group therapy sessions to uncover the root causes of your addiction. Once you’ve identified these often hidden issues, we use experiential therapy to help you learn new skills to use instead of your unhealthy, addictive behavior.


Your therapeutic and treatment plan will be completely customized to your needs, including addressing any co-occuring disorders that are negatively impacting your self-worth and mental health.


With our hands-on approach, you’re able to create new, long lasting patterns.

Be Kind to Yourself

Remember to be kind to yourself as you’re going through this process. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, a simple exercise is to write down 10 things you’re grateful for right now. 


    • I’m grateful I’m taking care of myself for once.
    • I’m grateful I had the strength to ask for help.
    • I’m grateful for a family who loves and supports me.


By making this list, you can shift away from any shame you’re feeling and continue to look forward. 

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If you’re still trying to find the perfect treatment center for yourself or a loved one, please give us a call to learn more about our effective, unique treatment.