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An Introvert’s Guide to Rehab: Meeting the Others
If you enter a rehab after you’ve gone through the detox process, you’ll probably be taken straight to the residential floor – a place you’ll call home for the next several weeks. There will be a lot of intake interviews, and the others on your floor will want to find out who you are.
Here are five tips for handling Day One:
- Make One Friend
Chances are someone will reach out to you with a welcoming handshake and offer to show you the ropes. Don’t worry about joining a group or even figuring out who the cliques are. Just make friends with that one person who reaches out to you. I remember on my first day of rehab; a woman about my age immediately took me under her wing. She was positive about the program, unlike some who complained about everything from the food to not being able to hang out with the boys.
- Don’t Be an Open Book
Don’t feel like you have to share your story all at once, or even at all. That’s what therapy is for. In casual conversation, share where you’re from, what you do for work or where you go to school, and maybe a thing or two about home life – like the names of your pets. It can make you feel unnecessarily vulnerable to go into too much personal detail right away. If someone pressures you for more info, just say you’re a little shy and aren’t ready to talk about everything yet.
- Speak Truthfully
Talk honestly about your introversion with counselors and those you meet with for intake. Express that you want to participate fully, but you’re not a natural at group activities. Most will appreciate your honesty and will work with you. Ask when it’s appropriate for you to take time alone during the day, and make the suggestions you’ve thought of as you were preparing, such as taking walks or finding time for solitary meditation.
- Don’t Isolate
The quickest way to get a lot of attention in rehab is to look like you’re trying to avoid attention. When the other men or women go out for a smoke, go hang out (unless smoke makes you sick – I know I started worrying about secondhand smoke in rehab), but don’t feel you have to dominate the conversation. Just be there and listen to others. You may find that you quickly start to form a sense of community with your fellow patients, and the social anxiety starts to fade.
- Form Your Own Group
Start to look for others who seem a little more quiet, a little more introverted. You may find you can start a club of introverts who can be together, while still respecting each other’s space and need for quiet. Keep an eye out for others on the periphery of the group. At my rehab, we were only allowed to go for walks in groups of three, so I found a few women who liked to walk. Sometimes we would walk together in silence. Introverts of the world unite!
Maybe someday we’ll create a rehab specially tailored to meet the needs of introverts. Until then, with a few tricks of the trade, we can definitely make the most of the experience!
Additional Reading: Dropping Out of Rehab – Who’s at Risk?
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