If drug or alcohol use is starting to complicate your life, you may be ready to consider whether inpatient rehab is right for you. What should you expect when you check yourself in for help with an addiction? To better understand what rehab is, here\u2019s a look at what it isn\u2019t:\n\n1. A Quick Fix\nSome imagine an inpatient rehab facility as a place where you detox for a few days, get the substance out of your system, and come home cured. If only it were that simple.\n\nThe reality is that addiction is a complex illness that actually changes brain circuitry and structures, affecting biology and behavior, and it takes time and repeated positive effort to counteract the damage. Addiction resets reward circuits, for example, eventually diminishing your ability to feel pleasure and motivation \u2014 not only from the substance but from other joys in life as well, even your relationships with loved ones. Addiction also affects the parts of the brain involved in judgment, decision-making and impulse control, which can complicate your efforts to change.\n\nAnd that\u2019s just one part of the picture. Substance use is often set in motion or made worse by issues such as childhood trauma or co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Successfully treating the addiction means treating these as well.\n\nThis is just a sampling of what must be overcome and it\u2019s not easy, but the estimated 23 million people in recovery in the U.S. are living proof that it can be done. Still, when thinking of recovery, it\u2019s better understood as a journey rather than a destination, and rehab can be the first step on that path.\n2. An Escape\nOne of the benefits of inpatient rehab is that it takes you out of your environment and allows you to detach from daily stresses. This can be crucial in giving you the mental and physical space to concentrate on your recovery.\n\nBut rehab should not be seen as a place to escape your problems; it\u2019s where you go to face them. All the things that helped fuel your addiction back home \u2014 whether troubled relationships, pressures at work or home, or people or places that trigger your desire to use drugs or alcohol \u2014 will most likely be waiting when you return. This is the time to develop real-world coping skills that will boost your ability to handle whatever comes when you are beyond the protective oversight of your treatment providers.\n3. A Last Resort\nIf you\u2019re struggling with drugs or alcohol, you may find yourself wondering if your problem is "bad enough" to warrant a rehab stay. While you may well be able to address a newly developing problem with outpatient treatment, you shouldn\u2019t shy away from inpatient rehab because you assume it\u2019s only for those at the end of their rope.\n\nRehab can help people in all stages of the recovery journey. It\u2019s for anyone who wants to take advantage of the structure, guidance, medically managed detox, intensive therapy and sense of community it can provide.\n\nAbove all, don\u2019t buy into the misguided and dangerous notion that you must hit rock bottom before you\u2019ll have the necessary motivation to change, so why bother with rehab until then. This mindset only ensures your problem will become more entrenched and tougher to treat and that you\u2019ll do even more damage to mind, body and relationships. And there is always the risk that waiting for rock bottom means waiting too long.\n\nThe good news is that motivation often comes as part of the treatment process rather than in advance of it. Research shows that even those court-ordered into addiction treatment do just as well as those who go voluntarily. That means you don\u2019t have to wait until your life is in shambles all around you so that you\u2019ll be appropriately inspired to make things better.\n\nThe only question you need to ask yourself when trying to determine if your problem is "bad enough" is this: Is your substance use stopping you from living the life you want? If the answer is yes, it\u2019s time to reach out for help.