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What to expect when you arrive for your first day of inpatient treatment

Two storey brick building with white wheelchair ramp, ten windows, and concrete steps set against a cloudy sky.

This article was written during the COVID-19 pandemic and makes reference to policies in place during this time.

We understand that entering inpatient treatment can be a daunting, even anxiety-inducing experience. But it is important to know that everyone who attends treatment is nervous on Day One — these feelings are completely normal. Making changes is always harder than staying the same, but the rewards of addiction treatment are lifelong and extremely fulfilling. To help prepare you for entering treatment, we have created a step-by-step outline of what a typical first day is like at one of our facilities, EHN Sandstone, in Calgary, Alberta. 

Step 1: Check-in

When you first arrive at our facility, you will be greeted by our nursing staff and administered a COVID-19 rapid test, which takes about fifteen minutes. The health and safety of yourself, the other patients, and our staff is top of mind, so we begin each check-in with a rapid test.

Once your test has been completed and negative results are shown, you will be welcomed inside to complete some basic paperwork. At this point, our staff will complete a bag search. This is done to protect both yourself and the other patients and to ensure that nobody’s treatment journey is compromised by banned materials entering the facility.

Step 2: Medical overview

Next, you will be introduced to one of our nurses who will speak with you privately about your substance use history, any medications you may be taking, and will assess whether or not detox is needed. If detox is determined to be necessary, you will be medically supervised throughout the entire withdrawal process, and medications may be administered to help ease the symptoms.

Our doctors are on site five to seven days a week, and are on call 24/7 to provide care and direction to our nursing staff while they are offsite. If a doctor is present on the day you check in, you will meet with them to talk about your history, concerns, and review any medications you may be on. Next you will receive a full physical, and finally the doctor will give directions to our nursing staff for any medical care you may need while in treatment.

Step 3: Facility tour

Once your paperwork, nurse and doctor visits are complete, you will be given a tour of the facility and will be shown your room. Our patients take pride in welcoming newcomers and showing them around, so it is likely that you will be greeted by peers and welcomed into the group at this time.

Step 4: Meet your counsellor

After you have toured the facility and settled into your room, you will meet your primary counsellor. While our patients are welcome to reach out to any of our staff for help at any time, each patient is assigned a primary counsellor who they will have regular one-on-one therapy sessions with throughout their time at Sandstone. Many of our counsellors are in recovery themselves, and understand very well what it feels like to be in treatment for substance misuse.

Step 5: Make yourself at home

At this point you will have completed all of our intake steps and will be encouraged to join in with the group. Depending on what time you arrived, chef-prepared breakfast, lunch or dinner will be served in the dining area. In the morning and evening there are exercise groups in the form of walks, yoga, gym time and/or fitness classes, as well as group counselling sessions that will be conducted with your peers. Your primary counsellor will also work with you to schedule one-on-one sessions to carry out your individualized treatment plan. If you are experiencing detox symptoms, you may be exempt from activities to rest while the nurses attend to you. In the evening you will participate in one of our recovery panels, talks, or skill-building sessions, and then you’ll wind down with personal time that can be used for personal reflection, journaling, to check in with loved ones, or to just simply relax. Some patients enjoy playing board games or lounging in our living room to watch TV or movies together.

Nervousness about entering treatment is completely normal, but know that we will do everything we can to make you feel comfortable during your stay. Remember that while you are with us, you are surrounded by people who understand; people who are going through the same thing as you or who have gone through it in the past. We are here to help.

Contact us today to speak with one of our admissions counsellors about starting treatment at 587-350-6818.

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