How to Win the Rehab Game

For those of you who are reading this article because you think that I am going to give you a method to make rehab easy so that you can slide right through, hassle  free, you are right but not the way you  think you  are right. What I am about to present is a way to get through rehab in the shortest amount of time and emerge from the other side with the tools and the skills to begin the journey to a wonderful life.

If you thought that by titling this “how to win the game” I meant “how to game the system” you couldn’t be farther from correct. If you are an alcoholic or drug addict, you are already an expert at gaming the system If you are now entering a rehab after a successful career of gaming the system, you know how well being successful at gaming the system really works for the quality and welfare of your life. There is an old rehab saying “The cheater cheats him/herself!” That is why when you are successful at gaming the system; you lose at the game of life.

When you are an expert at gaming the system, you also become an expert at gaming yourself. You lie to yourself so often that you believe your own lies. You take the easier, less painful way instead of choosing a path based on what will be a winning method because you tell yourself that it will work even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it has never worked before. You choose it because you choose anything that is less painful and less painful. That is why doing more of whatever it was that got you to the door of rehab became the immediate answer to most painful problems. When you scam the system you usually scam yourself in the process. So when I say I am going to teach you how to win the rehab game, I really men how to WIN! If you follow these simple suggestions you will have a tough but easy time in rehab and you will get through it and on to the rest of your life in record time.

How do I know this is true? Because I have been in this rehab game for a long, long time. I have worked in just about every part of the rehab game from being a counselor to starting and running a residential rehab and have managed to have lived a life without needing or wanting to use any of my old goodies for well over thirty years. I know what I am about to teach you  works because I have personally witnessed hundreds of folks just like you work their way through the rehab game. I am a keen observer.

I noticed what those folks, who got through rehab in record time and learned all they needed to have the tools to build a great life, did while they were in rehab. I also watched all the others who tried to do rehab the same way they did their life when they were using. They lied, to themselves and to the staff, and lots of the time actually got away with it. The problem is that when they lied and took the shortcuts, they never grew inside and never learned the tools that are so necessary for the outside of rehab.

They didn’t understand that rehab is just a rehearsal for life after rehab. It is time out from the real world where there are usually heavy consequences for goofing up and making lousy choices. They didn’t understand that in rehab, they could have the freedom to make wrong choices and just get the feedback they need to learn what choices really work, without having to risk anything. Many of these folks actually were good enough at lying and cheating and scamming that they gave the appearance of having gotten all they needed to get out of rehab and graduated. The problem is that they were all appearance. Then once again used all their cunning skills of their using life to give the illusion of having learned the lesions by feeding back to the staff all the right answers and doing all the right actions that the staff expected without doing any of the tough work on the inside. So when they graduated and went out in the real world with real consequences, they did not have the tools they needed to both survive and thrive and quickly turned to some form of addiction once again.

So here is my best suggestion on how to really win at the rehab game.

This is the most important thing that one must do to win at any game that involves learning new skills to win. This is the process that all winners do and all people who don’t win, never do. It is very simple while being painfully difficult at the same time.  One has to become ultra honest with oneself and admit that they don’t have the foggiest clue as to what to do next. They have to really know that they do not know. Only when you know that you don’t know are you ready to hear and do whatever it is you are being taught. If you have accepted that you do not know the answer because you have tried doing it the ways you have always done it and ended up without success, they you will be finally open for suggestion and direction.

Without getting to the point that you know that you do not know, what happens is that you are given a suggestion and you reject it without ever doing it. You will have a thousand reasons why it won’t work all of those reasons based on what? Oh yes, your old thinking which worked so well that you are now in rehab. Get it? Your old thinking patterns got you to rehab. The reason for being in rehab is to learn new patterns of thinking that will really serve you. If you have gut level gotten that your best thinking when you were using got you to nowhere except to rehab (possibly via jails and loony bins) then you will put your ideas of what sounds good aside and be open to not only hear new suggestions, you will actually follow through and actually do the suggestions and then notice what the results of doing the suggested work.

I can always tell who has accepted, gut-level, that they know that they do not know. They jump on every suggested course of action and put it into action, without question and then check out the result. Those who have not yet accepted that they do not have the answers and are still under the self illusion that they are smarter than their teachers, don’t do the work and instead spend their precious tie in rehab, punching holes in everything except their own baloney. They will have a thousand reasons why a suggestion will not work, without ever doing the work. I have actually said to counselees of mine when I kept getting reasons why what I was suggesting to do wasn’t going to work, “If you know so much about what works and does not work, how come it is that you are sitting in that chair (the resident in a rehab chair) and I am sitting in this chair?” When you hear yourself questioning a suggestion from someone who obviously knows more than you do on a subject before you do the suggestion and check out the results that doing the suggestion brings you, you need to remember that if you knew the solution you would have not asked the question and shut up and go do the work!

If you have embraced what I have written so far and are actually doing the work without reservation and excuses, then you have finished the preliminary work on the 1st of the 12 steps. for I believe that the essence of that step and the intended outcome of working that step is coming to the understanding that your best thinking hasn’t worked and that you know that you do not know. If you have done this, then you are well on the way to winning at the rehab game!

What you resist persists!

1st copyright ©2011, Jason Wittman (rev. ©2016, Jason Wittman, MPS)

[Permission to reproduce this article is granted as long as this notice and the “About the Author and the copyright information is included.]

*About The Author*
Jason Wittman, M.P.S. has his masters degree in counseling and psychology from Cornell University. He has over forty years of counseling experience and is certified as a clinical hypnotherapist and as a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He is currently in private practice as a Confidential Consultant and Mentor Coach. As Certified Level IV Addictions Counselor, he assists people to figure out all the “getting on living skills” that they either neglected or never learned, do to their continued usage of drugs, alcohol and other addictions.. He can be contacted at or

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