Going to Drug Rehab for the First Time? Here Are 10 Things You Need to Know

Last Updated on November 19, 2021

Admitting that you need help to overcome addiction is a big step, but going to rehab is a whole other thing entirely. If you’ve gone through the motions to enroll in rehab, arrange transportation, and pack your bags, you might be sitting there wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into. 

Going to rehab for the first time can be a scary thing, no doubt. You might even be unsure if you’ve made the right decision. However you’re feeling, knowing what to expect can help you feel more confident as you head to rehab.

To help you prepare for your first drug rehab experience, here are ten important things you should know.

1. Be prepared to work (and be uncomfortable).

Drug and alcohol rehab is not a walk in the park. It requires a lot of hard work and will be uncomfortable at times. What’s most important is that you keep an open mind and accept help from the treatment professionals that are offering it. During drug rehab, treatment professionals will push you far outside your comfort zone, but the results will be well worth all the work and discomfort. Regardless, it won’t be nearly as bad as what you’re feeling now in your addiction.

2. Accept professional help to detox.

Similarly, drug and alcohol detox can be challenging. Detoxing at home with professional assistance is dangerous and much less likely to be successful in the long term. To be safe and avoid unnecessary discomfort, it’s best to detox with the help of medical and clinical professionals who can treat any physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms you experience.

3. Be honest with yourself and others.

Drug rehab is a place to be open and honest. No one feels proud of their past behavior when they head to rehab, and it’s normal to feel ashamed. However, the most important thing is that you recognize change will only happen when you get real. Opening up with counselors, therapists, and your peers, as well as being honest with yourself, will pave the way for lasting change.

During therapy, don’t hold back your feelings. Get real and be willing to be vulnerable with others. Many people who suffer from addiction also suffer from unaddressed trauma that has never come to light. Addiction treatment is an opportunity to address those things and start resolving them so you can learn how to live and cope without drugs and alcohol.

4. Only bring the essentials.

Although it depends on the facility, most drug rehab centers prefer that you only bring the essentials. Typically, it’s a good idea to bring toiletries and hygiene products, a week’s worth of clothes, a pair of sneakers, a journal, your own pillow (if you want), a small amount of cash, your insurance cards and ID, and stamps and envelopes (if you plan to send letters). 

There may also be a few other things you can bring from home that may keep you motivated to make positive changes. Examples might include a memento or a family photo. Or, you might just want to bring your favorite sweater to help ward off the chills and stay comfortable during detox.

5. Take advantage of the amenities.

Many drug rehab centers offer amenities like a fitness center, basketball courts, swimming pools, hot tubs, yoga classes, organized peer activities, and meditation lounges. Depending on the facility you choose, these offerings will vary, but it’s best to take advantage of them while you’re there. Not only are you paying for those amenities, but they’re also there to aid your recovery, so utilize them!

6. Be open to making new friends.

Going away to rehab can be difficult, especially because you’re away from the support of close family and friends throughout the process. However, you’re not alone! Many people who attend drug rehab at the same time share similar life experiences and struggles. The friends you make while you’re in rehab provide powerful support and encouragement, and some of them may even become lifelong friends.

Having these relationships is also important after drug rehab because embracing a new lifestyle of sobriety can be tough. Having those sober connections and a strong support system can make things easier. Spending time with sober, supportive friends rather than your old drug-using friends will make all the difference.

7. Know that you’re not a prisoner.

As we mentioned earlier, drug rehab isn’t a vacation. In fact, you might even think about leaving at one point or another. The work you do in rehab is tough, and it requires courageous honesty and a willingness to listen and follow the advice of others. As such, it’s important to recognize that you’re not a prisoner; you can leave at any time. However, staff will encourage you to stick it out and stay. If you can get through your addiction treatment program, you’re much more likely to achieve long-lasting sobriety after you get back home.

8. Get onboard with self-care.

Learning how to care for yourself is a big part of being sober. Self-care in recovery incorporates physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, which are all things you’ll work on in rehab. Treatment professionals will guide you as you learn how to pay attention to your thoughts and address, establish spiritual disciplines outlined by the 12-Step Program, and learn to care for your body as it heals from the effects of long-term substance abuse.

9. Keep a journal.

Many people also recommend keeping a journal during your time in drug rehab. During treatment, you’ll read and talk through things that drudge up difficult memories or realizations. Writing them down in a journal can be therapeutic and may help you manage the complex emotions that come with them. Getting those things down on paper can also be a helpful reminder to discuss them with your counselor, therapist, or in a group meeting at a later date.

10. Remember that drug rehab is not a cure.

And finally, just remember that drug rehab is not a magical cure or solution to your addiction problem. While treatment professionals at a rehab center will provide all the support, tools, and help you need to get sober, it’s up to you to do the work that’s required to change your life.

Addiction is a chronic disease, so no rehab center can “cure” you.1 However, addiction is a treatable condition and, if you fully commit yourself to it, you will discover a new and better way to live. Change is never comfortable or pleasant, but with the help of caring and knowledgeable professionals (many of whom have also been in your shoes at one point), you can turn your life around and take hold of a fresh start.

Get Help At Our Drug Rehab in Austin, TX

Our Austin recovery center provides individualized, evidence-based addiction treatment to help individuals overcome their addictions. If you’re searching for rehab in Austin, Texas, we offer residential treatment, intensive outpatient (IOP), and online IOP, as well as personal monitoring and sober living in Austin. Please call (888) 427-4932 to get started today.


  1. https://archives.drugabuse.gov/publications/drug-abuse-addiction-one-americas-most-challenging-public-health-problems/addiction-chronic-disease

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