What exactly are the recovery tools you’ll learn in rehab?

What You Can Expect to Learn in Rehab

When you realise that going to rehab is not just about quitting drinking or stopping using, you will begin to understand its true purpose, to make the changes needed to make using a thing of the past. Here we list the 10 major components of a successful treatment

Going to rehab gives you the opportunity to change your life and become open to learning new therapeutic tools. These new life skills can replace your dependence on substances with new ways of coping and dealing with life on life’s terms.

Do you need rehab? Book a free addiction assessment with an admissions specialist today.

Recovery skills and tools

Recovery is a process. ‘We seek progress, not perfection’ (AA Big Book)

You do not have to do it perfectly or within the 28 days in rehab, but it’s vital that you put in the effort and continue to improve on the skills you learn at Castle Craig. Doing so is essential to achieving long-term sobriety.

At Castle Craig, we have a wide range of therapies available to all patients. During the admission process, you will undergo an assessment with a consultant psychiatrist, who will identify which type of treatments will be more suitable for you.

So, what are the skills and tools?

You are sober, you have been through detox, now what? See treatment.

Why did you drink, use or act out?

Those entering into primary treatment often play the ‘blame game’. People with addictions do not like taking responsibility for their actions or problems, so finding a culprit is a useful avoidance tool.

Here at Castle Craig, we’ll work with you to help uncover the core reasons behind your addiction.  The truth is that everyone has a past, with problems and reasons to use or drink, conscious and unconscious, yet by no means everyone is addicted. More important than our past is to understand our responses to our problems and to learn better responses for the future.

‘Don’t beat yourself’ is a common therapy chorus. Taking responsibility for our recovery (rather than blaming others), is a key aspect.

The way therapy works is to help you change your relationship with yourself, how you view the outside world and your thought patterns.  This in turn can help you learn to be easier on yourself and learn. This involves a process of self-discovery, facing reality and acceptance. Only then can you progress to addressing destructive thought patterns and behaviours so as to ultimately improve your relationship with yourself.  self-compassion.

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1. Help with thoughts and feelings

Shakespeare said that “nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Challenging unhelpful thoughts

One of the therapies available at Castle Craig is CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT is very effective in managing your thoughts. It helps stop spiralling self-defeating thought patterns.

Example: “My boss criticised my work, he is going to fire me, I’m not good enough, I am going to lose my flat, I will be homeless, I can’t cope, what does it matter anyway, I might as well drink.”

This example demonstrates how thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all interconnected. It follows that learning to change the way we think (“he is going to fire me..”) into a more positive thought, it will change our feeling about it (“I’m not good enough”) which in turn will change the behaviour (“I might as well drink”).  Learning how to apply these techniques is one of the most important tools you will acquire.

There are numerous techniques that CBT can offer to help you gain an understanding of how your mind works and how one thought can spiral into a wave of negative feelings, emotions and behaviours. A CBT session often begins with the question “What’s really happening here?”

Dealing with intense feelings

DBT Dialectical behaviour therapy, on the other hand, is similar to CBT but acts in a different way, to help manage intense feelings.  At rehab, we often hear patients say, “if you felt like me you would drink too.”  Therapies like DBT amongst others can help regulate emotions and allow space for pauses and more rational thoughts.

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2. Healing trauma

Trauma is the Greek word for wound. PTSD is when trauma or wound has not healed. The disorder part of PTSD is the side-effects of living with unresolved trauma. The side effects of unhealed trauma is what can ultimately lead to substance and behavioural addictions.

At Castle Craig, we offer EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), a therapy that facilitates the brain and nervous system to process unresolved trauma history.

Dealing with trauma can be complicated. Trauma that causes PTSD is often an episode that the brain cannot compute. It fails to process the event.

The event fails to become a memory and remains an active event stored part in the conscious and part in the unconscious. EMDR helps the brain to process the event and heals the trauma.

What can I get out of one-to-one therapy?

One-to-one therapy can help you explore issues in a way that is more detailed and focused than group therapy. The aim will be to establish a therapeutic relationship with the therapist, enabling you to open up and express your thoughts and feelings in a more profound way than is normally possible in a group setting.

You will be encouraged to agree goals to work towards, over the course of your treatment. As you interact, the therapist will reflect back to you what he sees in your words, attitudes and behaviours and you will work together on agreed areas for change. The therapist may give you assignments to complete and you will be free to ask questions.  It is important to understand that successful one to one therapy happens when the patient is fully committed to change and participates actively. Click here for more on therapy and what can you achieve.

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3. Relationships/Connecting with others

Rehab allows you to start building relationships again. When you arrive, you will be seen by a  psychiatrist and you will be assigned a therapist.  You will then join a group of your peers – fellow addicts from a wide variety of backgrounds and these will be your greatest resource.

With your peers, you will, knowingly or unknowingly, practice new life skills – perhaps assertiveness, kindness, boundary setting or even anger management. They will be able to offer support, friendship and honest feedback on how they see you progressing. Your peer group is a powerful tool in helping you to change and to learn how to handle relationships.

In short, Castle Craig is a Therapeutic Community – a place of safety where everyone – patients, medical, therapeutic and admin staff are all committed to a common goal of helping you achieve a lasting and contented recovery. As such, it is not the real world – it is a place where you can practice and prepare for the real world.

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4. Build healthy relationships: Setting boundaries

With the help of a therapist and your peer group,  you can begin to address any problematic relationships you may have with family members, friends or partners and learn more healthy ways of dealing with others.

Sometimes, a person in the group may trigger you, or upset you. Group therapy is an effective way of dealing with issues first-hand and learning to overcome them. By being honest and talking about how you feel, you can begin to understand what is acceptable and what is not.

This will prepare you for building and repairing damaged relationships outside of rehab.

Setting boundaries is about self-respect and asserting your basic human rights (and not accepting the unacceptable). These include the below.

I have the right to (respectfully) …

  • Have my needs and feelings be as important as anyone else’s
  • Experience and express my feelings, if I wish
  • Not be responsible for the feelings of another
  • Express my opinions, if I wish
  • Establish independence if I choose to
  • Decide how I spend my time and with whom and with whom I share my body
  • Choose or change my lifestyle, me, my behaviours, values or just my mind
  • Make mistakes and admit those mistakes without feeling humiliated
  • Be treated with dignity and respect in all my relationships
  • Be listened to respectfully and ask for what I want assertively
  • Say “I don’t understand” or “I don’t know” or no without feeling guilty
  • Set limits on how I will be treated in relationships
  • Expect my boundaries to be respected
  • Walk away from toxic or abusive relationships

The above is often an eye-opener for many people who come from toxic relationships or dysfunctional families.

Learning to assert your rights respectfully through setting proper boundaries can help to keep you sober. It will improve your self-esteem, your self-acceptance and your feeling of belonging – all important components of a contented life.:

  • It allows you to live a healthier life free of guilt and shame. You also have the power to part with love those who are toxic.
  • You can say no to people. You can avoid feelings of being used or being taken advantage of.
  • You can be human and fallible, you can fail, you can throw your hands in the air and say ‘I just don’t know.’
  • Become more accepting and learn to be more comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  • How you feel and your behaviours are your responsibility (so take responsibility).
  • Avoid loneliness: your social skills will improve when you know what you can expect from people and how you can expect people to treat you in return. This also helps with forming friendships with other people who do not drink or take drugs.

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5. Learn true self-care

The belief is that if you can develop a good and consistent level of self-care, the chances of remaining sober will increase exponentially. You will hear people talk about working the programme and perhaps you have seen the ‘just for today’ card. Recovery is all about healthy self-care for yourself and others.

If you look up ‘self-care’ on Google you’ll no doubt find bath salts and candles or spa break suggestions. This is not really what we mean by self-care. In recovery, self-care can include mindfulness, meditation, a good diet, prayer, a Higher Power, ensuring that you have enough sleep, exercise, setting boundaries and much more.

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6. Create and establish a healthy, purposeful routine

During your stay in rehab, you’ll discover that you are kept busy from morning to evening. Your day is organised full of therapy, recovery and purposeful activities like educational lectures and talks. You are never alone or left to sleep in.

Rehab is not a holiday – it’s a place where you can learn structure and routine, to give meaning to your life and purpose to your day.  This learning can then be reflected in your new life post-rehab.

Hopefully then, when you leave the facility, you will have initiated successful habits that will take you from strength to strength. An important habit that you must acquire will be attendance at your local AA or NA group.

Other elements of self-care in early sobriety are part of building a healthy lifestyle. They say that it takes around 21 days to establish a habit and if you put the work in, you will feel the benefits. Aspects to focus on will include :

  • Choosing friends and acquaintances that are helpful to your sobriety (and avoiding those that are not).
  • Improving your physical fitness through exercise and healthy nutrition.
  • Improving your mental and spiritual fitness through meditation, perhaps further therapy sessions and creativity.
  • Keeping busy without becoming over-stressed, remembering to take life ‘a day at a time’.

Establishing new healthy habits may be the most important thing you do. Recovery has to be built, it does not just happen. Above all, try to keep in mind that old advice: ‘Build your life around your recovery, not your recovery around your life’.

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7. Relapse prevention

Relapse is a characteristic of the disease of addiction and you should not be disheartened if it should happen to you. Instead, you should see it as an opportunity to learn. Going back to basics after a relapse is sometimes what you need to get yourself back on track.

Relapse usually occurs when a person has neglected the tools and skills they learnt at the beginning of their recovery journey.

Self-care and meetings may have been replaced with isolation and silence. However, an actual relapse also provides an opportunity to revisit one’s behaviour prior to the event to identify exactly where mistakes were made. If this is done honestly, it can be an important tool that will prevent any re-occurrence.

There are, however, an important range of relapse prevention tools to be learnt, that are absolutely vital for those in early recovery.

Anyone completing treatment is highly likely to be faced with challenges to their new sobriety, within days of leaving rehab.  These ‘triggers’ could be as simple as walking past their favourite bar and seeing friends inside, or being offered a drink by an unsuspecting person, or perhaps just a feeling of boredom that leads to thoughts of drinking. For sure, something like this will happen.

It is absolutely vital that newly sober people appreciate and learn the attitudes and techniques to counter such events. Here are some examples that really can be learnt with practice:

Always carry a phone number (preferably of your sponsor, but any understanding person will do) that you are able to call at any time if you feel your sobriety is threatened.

Use techniques for ‘banishing’ thoughts of drinking from your mind by focusing on something else – count the number of trees or clouds that you see, try to remember the words of a song or force yourself to make a phone call (any random number will do!). Just do something to clear your mind of unhealthy thoughts.

Carry a flashcard in your wallet. This is a small card designed to shock you into reality if you have thoughts of drinking. It might contain a photo of you entering rehab, or of your loved ones or it might just say ‘Drink kills’ or ‘Don’t do it!’

There are many other well-tried methods, and these vital tools will stand you in good stead because the early days of recovery, while you are learning new habits, are absolutely crucial. Simply going home from rehab and hoping that everything will be alright, is not an option.

8. The 12 steps

  • Introduce you to spirituality and honesty
  • Help with lack of power gratitude
  • Help with faith and acceptance
  • Help with taking it one day at a time

9. Additional Holistic tools and techniques

  • Mindfulness, meditation and breathwork to aid relaxation and keeping calm
  • How to enjoy life at a slower pace
  • Introduction and participating in yoga & pilates
  • Help with relapse prevention help, advice and planning
  • Dealing with cravings and psychological dependence
  • Nutrition planning and physical fitness
  • Avoid ​substituting addictions

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10. Do not be afraid to ask for help

It’s OK to ask for help and it is OK not to be bullet-proof.

Your friends and family may have already seen you at your worst and weakest. If they accept and love you, then it’s likely they always have and always will. Now, it’s time to show them your strength. 28 days in rehab is just the beginning.

At Castle Craig, we recognise that recovery is for life. The treatment we provide has been proven to get you sober and start you on the road to a happy and healthy recovery, but how you deal with your future life is up to you.

We are always here to offer help and advice and our continued care programme is available to all patients after discharge. This includes regular aftercare meetings either in person or via Zoom. Details are on the Castle Craig Website. Get help today.

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