I still vividly remember my first day of treatment even though it was over two and a half years ago. I did outpatient treatment, so I had time to try and prepare myself before my first session. The 40-minute drive felt like an eternity. I was so unsure of what to expect and felt so alone. I pulled into the parking lot and parked as far away from the building as possible. I shut my car off and tried to gather up the courage to open my car door, step out, and walk into the building that was going to change my life. But I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready to willingly admit to having a problem. Instead I sat in my car for another 20 minutes before calling a friend and having her talk me into walking through the doors.
What followed were the most awkward, frustrating, surreal three hours of my life. They were also the most impactful and important, even if I didn’t know it at the time. Here are three emotions to expect at your first day of treatment and how to deal with each of them.
I’ve never been keen on going places where I don’t know anyone. I like to have the security blanket of knowing the people around me, to avoid feeling left out or uncomfortable. However, there was no way around it when walking into my first day of treatment. I didn’t know a single person. To make matters worse, I had to go through paperwork so I was the last one to arrive in the group, which meant everyone watched me walk in. To this day I have never felt more awkward. In retrospect this was a blessing because it forced me out of my comfort zone. But in the moment it was just plain hard. I realized that the only way to get through it was to let the discomfort be a part of me and ride it out – much like sobriety in general.
Sure, I was embarrassed to be in rehab, but more than that, I was ashamed of the person I had become to get me there in the first place. I didn’t feel worthy of getting treatment or getting better. I was convinced that there was no way out of the hole I had dug and that I would spend the rest of my life feeling ashamed of who I had become. I continued to feel this way for quite some time. Confronting shame is a large part of the healing process of sobriety, and it is only after you do so that you can truly move forward. Feeling shame was difficult for me, but it also led me to the here and now. Today, I feel the opposite of shame – I feel pride. I am proud of the person I have become and what I have overcome.
Throughout that first day of treatment I just recall looking around, listening to others people’s stories, talking about a higher power and thinking “What am I, a straight-A student-athlete, doing here?” I felt so unlike everyone surrounding me even though in reality I was just like them. I simply refused to believe it because I was convinced I was better than them. It was only as time passed that I was able to overcome these feelings. I was brought to reality and eventually realized that addiction does not discriminate. I was exactly like all the people surrounding me because I was powerless. We all were, and we all belonged there.
Of course I still battle these feelings on occasion, but sobriety and treatment have taught me how to deal with them in a healthy manner. Emotions are temporary, and that is important to remember. No feeling lasts forever. The discomfort likely passes and you are left with a valuable lesson.
Addiction treatment is the first step in the healing process. Start your healing today: 855-625-9093.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.