Questions You Can Expect to Be Asked in the Admissions Process
When it comes to addiction, pride makes you your own worst enemy. Pride leads people to numb emotional and physical pains with drugs rather than heed their bodies’ “You aren’t invincible” warnings. Pride keeps people from admitting that their “casual” drug use is turning into dependence or addiction. Pride convinces people who do realize they have a problem that they should at least be able to fix everything without help—sometimes leading to home-detox attempts with deadly consequences.
Pride can continue to hobble you even after you get yourself to a detox center (or find yourself there in the wake of a family intervention). When admissions counselors ask personal questions about your family history, addiction habits and other problems, your first reaction may be, “What business of theirs is all that? I didn’t come here to be dissected and humiliated. I just want to get detoxed and get back to a normal life.”
Actually, “just getting detoxed” and rushing back to “normal life” is the worst possible approach to treating addiction. Medical professionals have known for over 20 years that without attention to individual needs and deeper concerns, fewer than 30 percent of patients discharged as “clean” are able to sustain abstinence for the next three months, let alone to the one-year anniversary. Not that relapse, per se, means treatment has “failed”—around 40 percent of people treated for alcoholism and as many as 85 percent of people treated for opiate addiction will slip at least once post-detox, and many get back on the wagon and continue on to long-term sobriety. But clearing your body of physical drug cravings without bothering to change anything else in your life is like confirming your lung cancer is in remission and then going back to smoking two packs a day.
“All those questions” you can expect to be asked during the treatment center admissions process really are for your own good—to protect you from physical dangers during detox and to begin mapping your journey toward a sober and fulfilling future. In fact, if a treatment center doesn’t ask many questions, that may be a major red flag—an indication that the center is lacking in up-to-date methods and qualified personnel.
Here are the most common categories of questions—and the “whys” behind them—according to our own Director of Admissions Rian McGuire.
DETAILS OF DRUG HABIT
McGuire: When speaking to individuals and families seeking admission to Beach House, we ask about how long they’ve been using drugs or drinking, how much they’re ingesting and at what frequency, their craving levels and what kind of withdrawal symptoms they struggle with if they’ve attempted to quit before. Clients are typically reluctant to open up about their actual volume and frequency of drug or alcohol abuse—there is frequently a lot of shame associated with their use, and they’re already accustomed to lying to their friends and families about ‘how much’—but clarity of details is incredibly important to ensure we set up plans and protocols for a detoxification that suits the individual’s medical needs.
MEDICAL AND PERSONAL HISTORY
McGuire: We ask about:
- Any prior treatment center admissions,
- The client’s legal history,
- Other past consequences of their substance abuse,
- Their medical and mental health history,
- Any suicidal ideations (detailed fantasies about or plans for suicide) and self-harm history.
Knowing all this is vital to ensure that individuals seeking admission to Beach House are best served and that our community remains safe. Further questions may be necessary in the event an individual suffers from high mental health needs or has a history of suicide attempts or self-harm.
MOTIVATIONS AND GOALS
McGuire: It’s typically most surprising for clients that, to understand their backgrounds and needs, we ask detailed questions about their motivation for treatment, current living situations, friend-and-family support systems and motivations for sobriety. These questions, along with those on the consequences of their substance abuse and their legal histories, provide our team with a basic understanding of how the clients have come to be where they are, and what challenges they may face in remaining sober.
BUT DO I REALLY HAVE TO ANSWER ALL THESE QUESTIONS?
Even if you understand all the above, you may get seriously squeamish about being open and honest—if only because you’ve forgotten how under the influence of the drug habit, or because you never really learned how at all. (Many people with addiction disorders grew up with parents who were also addicted and who involved the whole family in covering it up. Many other people with addiction disorders grew up in households where they were constantly pressured to suppress feelings and deny dreams that didn’t match “the way we do things in this family.”)
Fortunately, good treatment providers know how to gently guide clients through the harder sections of the admissions process.
McGuire: Convincing individuals to be open and honest can be a difficult task. Some people struggle with opening up, or with the shame of sharing such personal details about what they’ve been going through. Some people struggle with the whole idea of being honest, as they’re used to lying. Some people even show up less than sober, and struggle with the pre-admissions assessment due to a degree of intoxication that impacts their ability to appreciate the importance of this process. Our Admissions Counselors are highly skilled in navigating this difficult conversation with sincerest empathy and compassion. They typically rely on their own experiences with active addiction, sharing their stories to help people feel more comfortable during a stressful and vulnerable process.
THE QUESTIONS AREN’T OVER ONCE YOU’RE ADMITTED
In addition to serving information-gathering purposes, the questions you’re asked during the admission process are good practice for what will happen later, as you’re prepared for long-term sobriety.
As already mentioned, a good detox center won’t just toss you back into your old drug-use-trigger-laden life once physical cravings subside. Expect that once physical detox is over and your strength begins to return you’ll be encouraged to commit for several weeks of follow-up treatment, which will be heavy on therapy and full of personal questions.
Questions such as:
- What originally led you to see drugs as the best solution to your problems?
- How else might you deal with these problems? What advantages will these methods have over using drugs?
- What’s kept you from using better coping methods before?
- How have old, familiar settings and relationships hurt you?
- What false assumptions have you harbored about life, “success” and yourself?
- What are your real dreams and goals?
Even after treatment is officially over, long-term sobriety means staying in contact with a support network that will regularly ask how you’re doing and what you’re struggling with.
It’s all for the good. One day, after a year or two of sobriety, you’ll take a look at how far you’ve come, and realize how big a role plain old honesty—with others and yourself—played in it all.
Now that you know what questions you will be asked in the admissions process, take the next step and contact us to talk to one of our admissions counselors, today.
Beach House Center for Recovery. “Addiction Relapse Rates Compared to Those for Other Chronic Illnesses.” Accessed May 7, 2018.
Beach House Center for Recovery. “Addiction Triggers: How to Prevent a Relapse.” Accessed May 7, 2018.
Beach House Center for Recovery. “How to Plan a Family Intervention in Ten Simple Steps.” Accessed May 7, 2018.
Beach House Center for Recovery. “Life after Relapse: How to Bounce Back and Start Over.” Accessed May 7, 2018.
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McGuire, Rian. E-interview, April 25, 2018.