I have never been to rehab, although I know a few people who have. A good friend of mine is a graduate of the original Betty Ford Center and his sobriety has lasted several decades. God bless Betty Ford!
The only version of rehab I know is “Celebrity Rehab”, which looks like a country club full of cranky people. A pool, a hot tub, nice rooms, good meals, and a hot doctor to treat you! Who could ask for more? My guess is that real rehab ain’t that pretty and there are a lot nastier people to deal with than Gary Busey.
Having spoken to my fair share of recovering alcoholics and done a fair bit of research on the subject, it seems that alcohol rehabilitation treatment is multi-faceted. For most patients it starts with drying out. Alcohol detoxification often isn’t pretty and the side effects can range from headaches and anxiety to seizures and full-blown delirium. Alcohol withdrawal delirium (or “the DT’s” as they are often known) occur within 2 to 3 days of the last drink and are a sure sign that the body is ridding itself of alcohol toxins. People with long-term alcoholism, who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol are at high risk of alcohol withdrawal delirium – and between 1% and 5% may actually die because of the symptoms.
During the first part of rehabilitation, while the patients are drying out, individual and group therapy begins. The goal is to find the underlying psychological reasons for the alcoholism, and to put the patient back on track to living a normal life. Many rehab facilities incorporate 12-step programs into this part of the treatment, as well as make efforts to get the patient physically active and nutritionally healthy again.
Treatment continues in the next phase as the recovering alcoholic attempts to return to some type of normal life. Returning to work and family on a part-time basis, they are able to continue intensive treatment.
After successfully completing this part of treatment, patients return to full-time normal life, while checking in with the treatment facility or making regular AA meetings.
In some ways, this is how “Celebrity Rehab” does work, and we get to see it. We watch the intake procedure and witness how the alcoholics attempt to sneak in their alcohol. We watch them detox and go through individual and group therapy. They are then taken on little field trips out into the outside world, and eventually released back to their old lives.