The 10 Reasons to go to Rehab Sober (If You Didn’t Go Drunk)


Where’s Mare? You can tell we’re professionals – we’re wearing name tags on lanyards… on the balcony/running track in Lakeview’s newly renovated gym.

Lakeview Health

In July, I was invited by Jacksonville’s Lakeview Health to attend their “Professional’s Weekend”. Twenty-five addiction specialists from around the country visited Lakeview’s addiction treatment center to tour their newly renovated facility, meet some of the specialists on staff and participate in the rigorous group activities available to Lakeview’s clients.

I have to admit, my first thought when receiving my invitation was, “I  wonder how addiction specialists party on a getaway weekend?”  Surely this wouldn’t be like one of the many marketing professionals’ boondoggles or tradeshows I’ve attended over the years – no inebriated, after-hours pool party, no inappropriate liaisons with coworkers. No foggy, headachy mornings after, trying to piece together the events of the nights before…

I Didn’t Go to Rehab…

There have been many times over the past two, sober years I have wished I had. When I visit a place like Lakeview, I am moved by an almost orphan-in-the-snow longing. There is so much intelligent, creative kindness available to those who suffer like I did; and I got sober the way I do most things – white knuckled and alone. I have now learned to accept the help that was always available from my friends and family, but in the early days of my sobriety, I could have benefitted from the experts, and I still have a lot to learn about my addiction.

Speaking of white knuckled and alone, I am a bit awkward in group settings. I’m the one everyone would suspect if there was a body found on the Orient Express. I’m quiet, but a little too watchful. I always wear black… Have you noticed that adults harken to the exact behavior they exhibited in school, when they are in a group setting? Spending time with all those therapists and interventionists made me a little insecure they might see through my façade – notice my allegiance could go either way…

Why it Might Make Sense to go to Rehab Sober (if You Didn’t go Drunk…)

1.  You are not alone: Getting and staying sober is a solitary act; it requires soul searching and personal evaluation. After self-medicating to deaden life’s slings and arrows, walking into the bright embrace of the experts’ personalized approach is a revelation – even in advanced recovery.

2.  The pitfalls of sobriety are addressed: I wrote an article for called The Downside of Sobriety, about the surprising negatives I encountered in getting sober. I am sure there are other bugaboos coming down the pike as I navigate my long term sobriety. A rehab center can provide tools and techniques to combat the inevitable downfalls.

3.  They find a way for you communicate: If it’s hard for you to talk in a group setting, the rehab specialists encourage you through Music Therapy or Art Therapy. Or like Dr. Doolittle, you can “talk to the animals” with Equine Therapy; connecting with a horse can make it easier to open up to humans (something I struggle with) in talk therapy sessions.

4.  In rehab, there are physical activity electives: It is bloody difficult to feel sorry for yourself, or make foolish choices, when you are clinging to a rock wall, or learning to surf, or cross-training with one of the rehab center’s Adonis-like fitness experts…


Craving a drink? Hello? I’m climbing a wall here…

5.   Which brings me to – they watch your back and mitigate your choices: What is it about trying to get sober and sex? You made bad choices while you were drinking and you will attempt to make bad choices as you get sober. For the period of time you are in rehab, it is nice to have someone say (like Arnold in Terminator 2), “Don’t do dat.”

6.  In rehab, they nourish you: When I first got sober, I lived on extra strength Sleepy Time Tea and candy – anything to treat myself, or knock myself out. At a proper rehab center, you are given three square meals (the chicken cordon bleu at Lakeview is almost reason enough to go), and there is no room service or carry out. The simple act of getting out of bed (where you are blanketed with outdated “Us Magazines” and Charleston Chew wrappers), and going to the cafeteria, begins to plant the seeds of routine and structure.

7.  There is time for peaceful reflection and one-on-one therapy: As soon as I have some money saved up, I am going to beeline to an addiction therapist. In two years, I have experienced a tilt-a-wheel of sober emotions, from anger to elation, and rehab allows you the time to reflect, repair and unearth the underlying reasons for your addiction.


In the yoga studio…

8. They arrange field trips to 12-Step meetings, church, etc.: I don’t think there are trips to the Town Center… When is the last time you got on a bus to go on a field trip? How awesome is that? I still have problems with isolating and talking myself out of activities, because I need to binge watch Bloodlines on Netflix or finish that blog post. If I had someone outside my door with an idling bus, and a driver looking at their watch like, “It’s time to go,” I’d do so much more (and attend a lot more 12-Step meetings and church services).

9.  Rehab teaches you how to build relationships: There is nothing like standing in your bathing costume with a surfboard, thinking about the stories you’ve heard of recent shark attacks (told with gruesome detail by that quietly watchful woman in black from Florida – you see why I have trouble making friends?), to cement new found friendships. Fellow alumnus and rehab staff serve as long term support for your sobriety.


Nope. Not me in that group…

10.  Rehab provides laughter and human contact: There is always laughter in 12-Step meetings, right?. It seems that when you’re with others who share your experience, especially when so many of the people in your life just don’t GET IT, it is freeing and healing and funny. I get satisfaction from writing this blog and the exchange that happens in the Comments section (in fact it is a vital tool in many a sobriety toolkit), but human contact is something rehab can provide that words on a screen cannot.

Today I’m not drinking because I am thinking about how awesome rehab can be…


How come you’re not drinking?