Considering Treatment: Common Last Minute Questions

A few common roadblocks come up with almost everyone heading to treatment – always asked after the decision has been made to goto treatment and always used as road blocks to not goto treatment.

Can I smoke/vape/chew tobacco?

Most treatment centers allow smoking. Sure, smoking is unhealthy—but the problems of addiction that led you to go to rehab are usually far more severe and problematic than smoking. Smoking is certainly an issue, but it’s an issue that can be addressed once the person struggling with substance use is fully engaged in recovery.

Almost everyone I take to rehab stops to buy a carton of cigarettes on the way. In treatment, smoking can be a break from the regimented structure of that environment, and a lot of healthy conversations can happen with fellow patients on the designated smoking picnic tables.

Chewing tobacco, on the other hand, is handled differently by different facilities. I find that in places where chewing is more popular, facilities are more likely to allow their patients to chew tobacco. Like smoking, there are often specific areas where patients can chew tobacco—and, besides, it’s common courtesy not to chew during meeting or in common areas, since treatment often involves sharing space.

Every facility that I work with is struggling to address vaping among their patients. (Many medical professionals think that vaping is “safer” than smoking, which complicates the matter.) The facilities that do allow vaping only allow patients to use nicotine pods that come in sealed packaging. Vapes that use refillable oil are never allowed; facilities have to have control over any other substances, like CBD or THC, that could be mixed into the oil.

Some people, however, choose to stop smoking, chewing tobacco, or vaping entirely while in treatment. It’s the perfect place—supportive, therapeutic, structured—to go through withdrawal from nicotine, and all facilities will help you quit with Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) like Nicorette.

Can I have my phone? What about my computer?

Phone access varies by facility. No matter where you go, there will definitely be rules about phone use; unfettered access to your phone wouldn’t be appropriate, since treatment is about spending time in meetings and therapy, not on your phone. Facilities often limit phone use to certain hours during the day, usually a few hours in the evening and perhaps on weekends. It may be worth asking your treatment center about their rules on phone use before you check in, so you can appropriately manage your expectations.

Most people find that they have enough access to their phone, and some people actually learn to like the restricted use—you’ll be surprised by how many extra hours you have in a day! 

Furthermore, phone calls can be very distressing for people in treatment. I always suggest that family and friends limit what they talk about to the person in treatment, being careful to allow them time and mental space for recovery. Angry calls from spouses, high stress calls from parents—all this can take away from the work the individual is engaged in. If the discussion can wait a few weeks, it’s usually better to honor the sanctity of the treatment space and engage with the problem once the person returns home.

As for your computer, every facility knows that you have to continue to work or look for work. Just like the phone policy, it’s important to have a conversation before entering treatment so that you can understand the limitations that will likely be placed on your computer use.

Usually employers understand that you’ll be less available for a period of time, and they want you to return to work healthy. Rehab is expensive, and once you’ve taken the time and invested the money, it’s better to focus fully on solving the problem—even if that means less phone and computer time.

After treatment, you’ll quickly realize how much more effective you are at work, and how much more time you also have to relax and see your family—now that you’re not drinking or using for six or more hours a day.

Will I have a roommate?

Most people that go to treatment have a roommate, though all facilities offer private rooms at significantly higher rates. Having a roommate can actually be therapeutic: you can learn how to live with another person, avoid isolation, and build community. I’ve seen some very privileged people opt for a private room, and sometimes I feel like they’re missing out on the full experience of treatment. But if you’re using your insurance to pay for treatment, you will definitely have a roommate.

During treatment, you won’t spend very much time in your room. You’ll usually wake up early and spend the day in groups, and by the end of the day you’ll be tired from an emotional day of therapy and ready for bed.

The benefits of treatment last a lifetime. It’s worth it to adapt a few of your current behaviors and preferences—whether they involve smoking, phones and computers, or living alone—to give yourself the time you need to recover.

Adam Banks is a certified recovery coach and interventionist at Suntra Modern Recovery.  He received an MBA from the University of Chicago and built a company which United Health Care acquired. He learned his rigor and attention to detail from his career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Suntra Modern Recovery provides medical treatment for alcohol and opiate addictions via video visit with medical doctors. Suntra’s alcohol and drug intervention services are available in New York, Long Island, and the Hamptons. Treatment for opiate and heroin addiction, including Suboxone treatment, can start today.

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