Checking Yourself Into Rehab

How to Check Yourself Into Rehab

Quick Summary

  • Acknowledging the Problem: If you’re questioning whether you need rehab for substance abuse, it’s a strong indicator that it’s time to seek help.
  • Recognizing Addiction Signs: Be aware of key signs of addiction, like changes in behavior, cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and neglecting responsibilities.
  • Assessing Life Impact: Consider how your substance use has affected your relationships, finances, work, and health to understand the need for rehab.
  • Rehab Admission Process: Research and select a rehab center, contact them for information, and prepare necessary documents for the intake process.
  • Packing for Rehab: Bring essential items like appropriate clothing, toiletries, and medications, and be mindful of the rehab center’s rules on prohibited items.

Addiction doesn’t develop overnight. It’s often a slow progress of casual use that turns into dependence. If you feel that your use of drugs or alcohol is negatively affecting your life, you might ask yourself if it’s time to consider rehab, and how to check yourself in once you’ve made the decision. Checking yourself into rehab is a straightforward process, but it does require some preparation. 

Do You Need Rehab?

If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is likely yes. More than 20 million adults in the United States have a substance use disorder. While many of them may have asked themselves if they need a rehab program, only a fraction of them have actually gone through treatment. 

Recognizing the need for drug or alcohol rehab is an important first step toward recovery. Beating drug and alcohol addiction requires more than an acknowledgment of the problem. It requires commitment, both short-term in seeking help, and long-term in maintaining addiction recovery. 

You might also feel that you have drug or alcohol use under control but have this nagging thought in the back of your mind that maybe a problem exists. If you’re unsure about whether or not you need rehab, understanding the signs of addiction and evaluating your behaviors can help determine if seeking help from medical professionals is the right decision for you. 

Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Addiction 

There are both physical and mental signs and symptoms that can indicate an issue with substance abuse. The signs and symptoms may be different for each person, but these are some of the most common. 

  • Loss of motivation or enthusiasm 
  • Noticeable change in self-care and hygiene habits 
  • Feeling like you have little or no control over your substance use
  • Experiencing intense cravings or urges to use drugs or alcohol
  • Developing a tolerance and the need to take or use more of the substance 
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when going longer than usual without the substance 
  • Making sure there’s a continual supply of the substances and becoming concerned or even obsessed about where or when you’ll find it next
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to substance use 
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence 
  • Engaging in illegal behaviors, such as stealing, to acquire the substance
  • Struggling with relationships and experiencing conflicts related to your substance use 
  • Noticeable changes in social patterns 
  • Feeling secretive or protective about your substance use 
  • Becoming angry or defensive if someone questions your substance use 

Evaluating the Impact On Your Life 

Evaluating the impact of substance use on your life is important if you’re considering an addiction treatment program. Acknowledging the impact of substance use in the various areas of your life can help you better address them once you’re in rehab. Giving this some thought can also help the staff place you in the correct addiction recovery programs. 

Relationships: Have your relationships suffered due to your substance abuse? Are loved ones expressing concern? Do you have children that have been affected by your substance use?

Finances: Have your finances been affected by your addiction? Are you experiencing financial difficulties either due to the amount spent on drugs or alcohol or because of poor work performance?

Work/School Performance: Has your job or academic performance declined because of substance abuse?

Physical Health: Have you noticed any negative changes in your physical health? Are you experiencing frequent illnesses or injuries?

Mental Health: Have you noticed any negative changes in your mental health? Have mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, or bipolar disorder developed or gotten worse?

Doctor discussing treatment options with patient during the rehab intake process.

How Do You Check Yourself Into Rehab?

Checking yourself into rehab involves an admissions process that’s similar to arriving at a hospital for an inpatient procedure. There will be questions and paperwork, an evaluation, and you’ll want to bring a few personal belongings with you. Here, we break down the process of checking into a rehab center step by step. 

Research and Selecting a Rehab Center 

Not all rehab centers are the same. You’ll have the best rehab and recovery experience if you’re able to check yourself into a rehab center that’s aligned with your addiction recovery needs and treatment goals. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a confidential search tool to find treatment options near you. 

When choosing a rehab center, look for options that specialize in treating your specific addiction or condition. Ask if they also provide mental health or dual diagnosis care, and are medically assisted treatments available, along with considering factors like location, cost, and available amenities. 

Contracting the Rehab Center 

While technically, you can just show up at a rehab center, showing up isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be admitted on the spot. The best plan of action is to contact the admissions department or helpline directly to inquire about the admission process and when they may be able to accommodate you. 

If you have more than one option in your area, it’s a good idea to have two or three rehab centers on your call list. Speaking with the admissions departments of several facilities, asking questions, and finding out when you can be admitted for treatment, are helpful in choosing the best rehab facility for your needs. 

Preparing for Admission 

Checking yourself into rehab is similar to checking into any medical facility. You’ll want to make sure you have all the necessary identification documents gathered and ready to present when you arrive. This includes personal identification, such as a driver’s license or state ID card, health insurance information, and emergency contact information. 

If you have any medical records that are important for rehab admission, you can bring them but don’t worry if you don’t have access to them. The recovery facility will be able to access any appropriate medical records with your permission.

Understanding the Rehab Intake Process 

The rehab intake process is a relatively short, but important part of checking into alcohol or drug rehab. You’ll meet with a staff member to complete the administrative process and initial assessments used to determine how your addiction recovery journey will begin. 

Initial Assessments Conducted During Intake

A series of assessments are used to evaluate your physical and mental health, substance use history, and any underlying issues that may be contributing to addictive behaviors. It’s important to be open and honest during these assessments. Nobody is going to judge your answers, but how you answer will be used to determine an appropriate, individualized treatment plan. 

Treatment Options and Individualized Plans 

Once the admissions paperwork and assessments have been completed, it will be time to discuss the treatment options that are available to you and develop a plan based on your unique circumstances, preferences, needs, and recovery goals. 

There are different approaches to rehab that can enhance the recovery journey and lead to a greater chance of successful recovery.

Therapies may include a combination of individual counseling and group therapy sessions, but there are additional options also. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be offered, as well as counseling for mental health issues through a dual diagnosis program, and family therapy. 

Rules, Regulations, and Expectations in Rehab

Part of the rehab intake process involves familiarizing yourself with the treatment facility’s rules, regulations, and expectations. There is no set standard of rules that exists for each addiction center, making it important to learn the guidelines that are in place to ensure safety and promote recovery at the facility you’re attending. 

Guidelines will cover the basics such as prohibited items, visitor policies, curfews, whether you’ll be expected to participate in daily chores or core activities, if or when you’ll be able to communicate with anyone outside of the rehab center, and emphasize the importance of the adherence to sobriety. 

Supportive Environment and Peer Connections

Group sessions are a major component of alcohol or drug rehab for most individuals. Some people thrive naturally in a group setting, while others may feel uncomfortable, unsociable, or hesitant to share their experiences. 

Group sessions are important because they help connect you with others who are going through the recovery journey. You’ll learn that everyone’s journey is different. There’s also a community built on shared experiences and struggles and supporting each other. Group therapy can be incredibly beneficial during your recovery journey. 

Ongoing Evaluation and Adjustments 

When rehab is successful, you won’t be at the same place in your recovery journey as you were when you first walked through the doors. This is something to celebrate, and it also means that there will be ongoing evaluations to assess your progress and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. 

These ongoing evaluations also provide you the opportunity to share your thoughts on:

  • Different types of treatment
  • Consider what is working for you and what isn’t
  • Provide input for how you envision your recovery journey going forward.
Woman packing a bag and preparing to check herself into rehab.

What to Bring to Rehab – Rehab Checklist

Packing for your rehab stay is something that requires thoughtful planning. You might not have a lot of time to prepare, so having an idea of what to pack is important. 

If you’re checking into a partial hospitalization program, you won’t need to pack as you would for inpatient treatment. However, you might still want to bring a small bag with items that will make you feel comfortable during your stay. 

Making a Checklist of Essential Items

A good way to prepare for checking yourself into rehab is by sitting down and making a checklist of essentials to bring with you. Many people take the minimalist approach to packing for rehab and only pack what they absolutely need, keeping in mind that they won’t be leaving the facility during their stay. But, don’t forget to also pack a few items that will bring you comfort during your stay. 

Appropriate Clothing, Toiletries, and Personal Belongings 

Make yourself aware of any dress code that may be put in place at the rehab facility you’re checking into. For clothing, it’s best to pack seasonally appropriate, comfortable attire. Make sure to pack an appropriate amount of clothing for your stay. If you’re planning on a week in rehab, it’s not necessary to bring three weeks’ worth of clothing, 

Keep in mind that your body is adjusting to life without drugs or alcohol, so you may experience temperature dysregulation, with periods of feeling too warm or chilled. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pack at least one warmer outfit and one that’s cooler to accommodate these changes and stay comfortable. 

Bring everyday toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap or body wash, deodorant, and other personal care items. Bring any prescription medications you are taking, but ensure they are in their original packaging. The staff will need to know which medications you are taking. Only non-narcotic medications will be allowed. 

Finally, remember to bring personal belongings that provide comfort and support during rehab. A favorite blanket, photos of loved ones, or a sentimental reminder of why you’re making the commitment to rehab are small touches that will bring comfort during difficult times. 

Being Aware of Restrictions or Prohibited Items 

Before rehab check-in, you learn about the facility’s restricted and prohibited items. It’s also important to inform anyone who may send you something during your stay (if the facility allows it) of what items are prohibited. 

Alcohol or Drugs: Under no circumstances are alcohol or drugs allowed on the premises at an addiction recovery center. You may be allowed to bring non-narcotic medications. You’ll need to inform the staff of any medication you’re bringing. Any medication that is considered a narcotic will be administered by the staff if needed. 

Weapons or Dangerous Objects: Weapons, or anything that could potentially be used as a weapon, such as sharp objects, are prohibited in addiction recovery centers. 

Electronics: The use of electronics during rehab varies by facility. Some will allow limited use of electronic devices, but this isn’t the case with every facility. 

Outside Food or Drinks: Most facilities provide meals and snacks as part of their programs, so bringing outside food may not be allowed. You can always check with the facility directly if you have special dietary needs.

Taking the First Step Towards Recovery 

Making the decision to check yourself into rehab is a monumental step towards recovery. Seeking information on how to check yourself into rehab shows that you’re committed to getting the help you need. Remember, this path is one you don’t have to walk alone. Contact the Massachusetts Center for Addiction today and take the next step toward addiction recovery.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a medical referral to check into drug or alcohol rehab?

A medical referral is not required to check into alcohol or drug rehab. Upon arrival, we assess your addiction and start a recovery plan. You can also inform your medical provider about your progress.

Can I show up at a drug rehab center?

Technically, yes, you can just show up at a drug rehab center. However, showing up is not a guarantee of immediate treatment. You’ll undergo an initial assessment. If medically urgent or severely addicted, you’ll be referred to a nearby facility for treatment or detox. 

If we can’t help at Massachusetts Addiction Center, we’ll connect you with our local partners for assistance.

Will insurance cover alcohol and drug addiction treatment?

Under the ACA, insurance providers are required to include addiction treatment in their healthcare plans. Coverage, co-pays, and deductibles vary by provider; confirm with them before checking in. Massachusetts Center for Addiction works with most insurance providers. 

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