Problem-Solving Strategies to Use During Rehab

Drug and alcohol rehab requires a lot of your time and attention. Inpatient programs take you away from your family or daily life, while outpatient programs require you to attend several hours of treatment each week. During that time, whether you return home at night or not, you will face concerns and issues. 

It is normal to feel worry, concern, or anxiety over these issues. But when those emotions take over, it can quickly leave you feeling overwhelmed. Being overwhelmed during rehab is a surefire way to risk quitting or relapsing. That is why it is so important to learn how to step back from problems and apply strategies when things don’t go as planned. 

Learning top problem-solving strategies to use during rehab can help you tackle the following:

  • Worries
  • Concerns
  • Conflict
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 

Top 5 Problem-Solving Strategies to Use During Rehab

Using problem-solving strategies during inpatient drug rehab can improve your mental and physical health and make issues more manageable. 

Strategy #1: Stay Focused on Your Goals

When you are in rehab, the first way to solve problems is to stay focused on your goals. Problems can often masquerade as excuses to quit or leave. 

Don’t let them become excuses. 

Instead, when you are overwhelmed with problems, large or small, write down your goals in recovery. Focus on the most important areas of your recovery like:

  • Rebuilding family relationships
  • Developing your career when you are done
  • Being financially stable
  • Being sober and happy

It becomes much easier to prioritize which problems to solve when you focus on your goals. 

Strategy #2: Focus on Your Locus of Control

Not every problem you face during rehab will be something you can control. 

For example:

  • You can’t control who else is in your group therapy sessions, and if there is a personality you just don’t get along with, you have to focus on changing your response to that personality rather than the person behind it
  • You can’t control when cravings or triggers strike, but you can learn to employ self-care so that you reduce their appearances and know how to manage them when they arise

That is why it is important to focus on things you can control. 

Mark cannot control all of the guilt he feels about how he has hurt his family because of drugs, but he can control how he responds to that guilt and work toward forgiveness. 

Strategy #3: Make Time to Problem Solve

Once you have your goals, focus on the issues within your control. Take time to ask yourself:

  1. Is this something within my control? Yes or No.
    1. If “no,” I need to let it go
    2. If “yes,” then what steps can I take to change the issue right now?
  2. If “yes”, write down all of the things you can think of as solutions, no matter how small or silly. 
  3. For those that you think will be most successful, can you fix them immediately, or do you need to schedule time to deal with the problem later?
    1. If “immediately”, then take action
    2. If “schedule later” then make a reminder or note to yourself (this might be something that involves a person whom you won’t see until the next day or the next week)

Strategy #4: Write Out Your Plans (No Matter How Small or Silly)

When you are planning your problem solving, set aside dedicated time. Don’t try to solve a problem while sitting in a therapy session ignoring your therapist. 

Instead, find five to ten minutes to focus on a single, solvable problem within your locus of control. 

Be as open-minded as possible so that you have every possible solution. Write down things like:

  • All of your ideas
  • The pros and cons of each solution
  • How likely that solution is to work
  • Whether you need anything to make it work

For example:

Georgia is annoyed by someone in her group therapy sessions. They have opposite political beliefs and cultural beliefs. When writing her list of possible solutions, Georgia includes the following:


Pros and Cons

How Likely it Will Work

Do I need anything?

Put a muzzle on them

Illegal, rude, and not a permanent solution

It would work for about two minutes

I would need a muzzle that fit their head

Ask them to keep their political views out of discussions about recovery

It could be said nicely and maybe they listen, but maybe they get mad and refuse

They are pretty stubborn so it is unlikely to work long term


Play a song in my head whenever they start talking about politics so I don’t let it get to me

No one would know I was doing it, I could use it anytime, it would help me emotionally

Very likely


Strategy #5: Reflect on Your Progress

When you have worked through a problem during rehab, take time to reflect on those gains. 

With inpatient rehab, there is often time for reflection and journaling at the end of each day. If you are in outpatient rehab, you will have to set this time aside on your own. 

Either way, journaling can be a useful tool for reflecting on things like:

  • Strategies you used successfully
  • Stumbling blocks you encountered along the way
  • Strategies that didn’t work
  • How your outlook changed
  • What tips you might want to save for later

This type of reflection is essentially a guidebook on what strategies you can employ when you face your next problem, and what strategies didn’t work as well. 

Overall, there are always solutions to every problem, if you are willing to be open to the possibilities. How you choose to apply problem solving strategies during rehab should be grounded in a focus on your goals, what you can control, and all the creative solutions you can come up with. 

Valley Vista is a drug rehab in Vermont with a variety of recovery programs for both men and women. If you are seeking tailored treatment for your addiction, contact us to learn more.

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