What started as an experiment in a college dorm room escalated into a lifestyle that would follow Chris for more than a decade.
Division one college basketball, the NBA, overseas professional ball, and finally the front seat of a crunched mini-van—drugs had plagued his thriving basketball career… and eventually ended it.
Chris Herren, author of Basketball Junkie, and former standout point guard for Fresno State and the Boston Celtics, knew he had a problem. Instead of dealing with his drug addiction though, Chris tried to live with it—but he was coping with imminent death.
“Truth is, I should be dead,” he says while talking about his past to a group of over a hundred high school students.
And really, he’s right.
On the sunny afternoon of June 4, 2008, Chris was discovered lifeless in the front seat of a minivan, crunched against a guardrail—a heroin needle hung from his arm. After a 30-second bout with death, the paramedics were able to revive him.
Chris Herren entered a rehab center, where after nearly nine months, he achieved sobriety—and now lives to talk and write about it.
What’s it going to take for you to seek treatment?
Tired of the never-ending spiral of desire, using, and withdrawing?
Feel defeated? dismayed? discouraged?
At your wit’s end?
Then you know it’s time to start thinking seriously about your treatment and rehab options. But you need to work quickly before you end up chasing death again. What can you do to help yourself?
Connect With a Loved One or Friend Immediately
Your first step is to contact a loved one (or sponsor if you’ve already been in A.A.) and tell them you’re ready to seek treatment. You should communicate with this person, so he or she knows your wishes for treatment, especially if your disease flares up again before you can get to treatment.
Carefully Choose Your Treatment Options
Although it is tempting to pick the cheapest, fastest recovery option–like maybe just detox–carefully consider the success rates and relapse statistics, compared to your addiction.
Is Detox Enough?
You might be one of those people who equate sobriety with detox. Unfortunately, someone who has completed detox is really only “dry” or “clean,” but probably not truly “sober.” [link to DU blog article.] While it is possible to go through several days of pain and agony to remove the substance from your body, you probably have not had enough time
- to learn which internal or external triggers might set you off into relapse again
- to understand what recovery tools are
- to change your environment
And if you’ve already tried detox alone in the past and it hasn’t helped you gain long-term sobriety, then you definitely need more than detox as part of your treatment.
Do I Need Residential Rehab?
Unless you have tons of money, you will probably be tempted to skip residential rehab–at least for financial reasons–but few addicts are able to kick their disease without a break from their current environment. Although there are many advantages for residential rehab, here are a few quick ones to get you started.
- You will be able to detox in a comfortable setting.
- You will often be assigned a private counselor who will get to know you and help you with the unique aspects of your disease.
- You will attend multiple education sessions
- You will begin to learn about recovery tools that can be implemented into your life.
- You will begin to learn that something else is probably causing the addiction disease.
- You will become a part of a team to meet others who are striving for recovery just like you.
Attending residential rehab is a little bit like your third-grade math class.
Before your teacher explained why three times one equaled three, you had no idea what it meant to multiply something by “one” or by “three.” But after she explained why three, one time, equaled three, it made more sense—unless of course you were picking your nose and daydreaming during that lesson—but hopefully that wasn’t the case.
An addict who has never sought help or pursued any kind of treatment is like a third grader expecting to learn multiplication without going to class or seeking the help of any kind.
And when a third grader refuses to listen because he thinks he already understands multiplication without any help or research, he has no chance of learning how to multiply three and one or anything else. Similarly, an addict who refuses to accept or seek help will never learn how to defeat addiction, and won’t be able to recover.
As long as you don’t pick your nose and daydream during rehab, seeking help from a treatment center is an important step to take down the road to recovery. In other words, you have a better chance or long-term sobriety, if you seriously pursue sobriety during rehab, than if you just float through it.
Are 28 Days or 90 Days Enough?
Depending on how serious your addiction is, you will need a longer time in rehab. Studies show that addicts who have failed to remain sober–even after attending rehab once or twice–will probably need an extended stay in rehab, probably 90 days or longer.
- If you’ve been detoxing for a while and it hasn’t worked or if you’ve already attended a residential rehab once or twice and it hasn’t worked, you should really consider a longer stay in rehab.
- If you have addictions to multiple substances or have had a strong addiction for a while, you really should consider a longer stay in rehab.
Although there is no guarantee that you will gain long-term sobriety after a 28-day stay, a 60-day stay, or a 90-day stay, in general, the longer you can stay in rehab, the better your chances are of learning those recovery tools that will help you maintain long-term sobriety.
Will I Need Follow-up Treatments?
Most quality residential rehabs will include follow-up, aftercare, or check-up visits as part of their program package. Some offer up to a year of follow-up visits for free. And you should plan to participate–after all, they’re free. The reality is that entering your regular life after rehab will be a difficult transition. You need to make sure that you have a lifeline of support while you get reacquainted with your life.
Should I Live in a Sober Living Home?
Addicts who have completed residential rehab often consider living in a sober living home or sober living environment (SLE). These homes are not authorized to help you with detox or rehabilitation treatment, but they can often provide a relatively safe and drug- or alcohol-free environment for you to begin rebuilding your life. In some ways, the SLEs can replace the implicit camaraderie and friendship that was available in rehab with others like you. Rooms in these homes can often be rented for whatever is the average cost-per-month of that area. Strict rules regarding sobriety and chores help these homes function and work as a team.
Plan Your Rehab Stay
You and your loved one should make a quick list to address the practicalities of moving away from home for a while. Some questions to get you started include
- What days will I be gone?
- Will I take all vacation days from work?
- What should I pack?
- Who will take care of the house, car, dog while I’m gone?
- Who will pay the bills?
- How will I get to and from rehab?
- What other commitments and schedule changes do I need to make?
Figure Out How to Pay for Rehab
Although residential rehab costs a lot of money, it will probably not take you too long to realize that compared to the cost of addiction, death, or loss of more relationships and work, it is well worth the time and effort. Some questions you should know before rehab include
- How much is my rehab program? What all is included (detox? doctor visits? follow-up visits?)?
- Are there any scholarships or discounts available?
- How much do I need to pay before I come or when I first arrive (i.e. downpayment)?
- Are there payment plan options available?
- Will my insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid cover any of rehab?
- What types of payment will they accept?
Related Article: Can I Afford Rehab?
Go to Rehab, Ready to Learn
The power of addiction is something I’ve spent countless hours trying to understand; every time I hear a story of addiction overpowering the will of an addict, I develop a greater respect for the authority of addiction in an addict’s life.
Addiction is a cultured disease that needs to be treated. But you need to be prepared for the treatment. Too often we approach rehab like school–we think we will automatically “get it”–without having to work hard for it. Don’t make that same mistake in rehab.
If you’re going to spend all this time and money to learn how to live a full and productive, meaningful sober life, then take it seriously. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your treatment:
- Work closely with your counselor, helping them understand what makes you tick.
- Take good notes during your education sessions.
- Learn what triggers affect you.
- Understand and implement the recovery tools you learn.
- Listen to and learn from those around you.
- Discover new hobbies or activities.
If you’re serious about recovery, you will soon find yourself walking on the recovery road.