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Top 10 Things to NOT Do in Rehab

A Handy Guide to Basic Survival, Mental Health Etiquette, and Avoiding Relationship Pitfalls

10. Don't fight with the doctors, nurses, social workers, or maintenance staff.

While on the surface this seems like a rather obvious concept to most of us, most patients—whether it is their maiden voyage into this realm of treatment or they are a well-seasoned traveler—enter such facilities first needing to detox from their substance of choice, and no one does so exactly the same way, from recovery time to adjusting to (possibly) new meds. And, of course, everyone is at a difference level of reality in terms of accepting their situation, and their course of action is usually the default setting of some combination of anger, confusion, depression, indifference, hostility and remorse.

Try and remember the staff is there to help you get well and work with you on your path to recovery and sobriety. Quite a few of them are recent grads, still in school new to the job or facility: They aren't making any real money, and are there because they truly believe in improving your help, and seeing you stay well and lead a happy and productive life. Believe me, the work is difficult, draining and often unappreciated. Don't make it harder for them.

9. Don't make a mess; clean up after yourself.

Try and remember that this is isn't your home; leaving half-eaten food, half-empty drinks and assorted trash is offensive, not only to the staff, but your fellow patients, and can be a health hazard or cause an accident (spilled drinks/slips and falls). Even more importantly—keep your room neat, clean and organized, like when you got here. And I can't stress enough how vital it is to leave the bathroom as functional and undisturbed as you can—you don't want to be that person at 3:00 AM having to report an ungodly mess or lack of toilet paper/towels/soap, or to have to utilize another restroom.

8. Don't avoid the shower, good hygiene, or changing your clothes.

No one likes to smell you, especially when you are ripe; imagine a crowded room full of unwashed addicts and their inattentiveness to their own personal hygiene; been there? Don't repeat that mistake! Shower and wash your hair daily, brush your teeth, and deodorize. It will pay immediate dividends.

7. Don't be greedy.

Unless you are at a facility whose dietary plan involved stuffing you full as much food as possible (mainly carbs and sweets) don't feel the need to "load up" your plate when snacks are handed out. No one likes a hoarder, but it's even worse to be the poor bastard at the end of the line who can't get a cookie, or even a drink, because the person before took five or six drinks.

6. Don't ogle/harass/hit on the staff.

No one is looking for a relationship in a hospital setting, especially with an addict and/or mental patient. Just. No.

5. Don't just sit there and stay silent.

Participate. Answer the staff openly and honestly when they talk to you; likewise, respect your fellow patients at all times, most importantly when you are in any group therapy sessions, paying attention and responding accordingly—in a polite manner, of course. Let them talk. Don't interrupt, step on their words or speak out of turn.

4. Respect the rules and resources provided.

Most of your time is structured, from groups, to meal-time, to quiet-time, to the privileges regarding phones or television. Despite your pleas, they won't be changed to accommodate you, and other people are entitled to their use as well.

3. Don't create or involve yourself in any drama.

While it can be really boring and monotonous, avoid the temptation to rile someone up, gossip needlessly, or antagonize anyone. What mean appear harmless can and definitely will cause damage, to the immediate individual to the group, and ultimately yourself. If you see it, stay out of it, and learn no to respond to everything, because you don't have to do so.

2. Don't assume friendships forged inside will continue after treatment.

The forced intimacy of the facility, including the nature of the treatment and conversations, can easily be misconstrued as something more concrete and beneficial than it is, whether it is your "rehab wife" or best girlfriend; patients scatter upon release and their new life is often overwhelming to them, and many want to put the experience—and even their newly-acquired friends—behind them. Don't take it personally—you'll do it, too.

1. Don't leave without a detailed plan for aftercare.

Have an extensive list of AA/NA meetings. No matter what, keep your scheduled doctors' appointments. Be fully prepared to say goodbye forever to certain friends/family and places. Make your health and recovery your priority. Use your entire support network and reach out whenever you need help.

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