When people decide to get help for their addiction, it usually means they are ready to enter a new stage of their life. Becoming sober requires the individual to experience a new way of living that is more satisfying than anything they have known before. At the beginning of this journey many of these individuals will spend some time in rehab. Here they will be able to build a strong foundation for their sobriety. The benefits of going to rehab are many, but that does not mean that it will not be a challenging time. Conflict in rehab occurs as the individual makes the bumpy transition from addiction to recovery.
Conflict occurs when things are in opposition. Human conflict occurs when there is competition of opposing actions or incompatibles. A conflict can be said to exist between people when the following conditions are met:
* The two parties in the conflict each feel that they need something from the other.
* The two individuals blame each other for the situation.
* The two parties in the conflict feel emotionally upset.
* The two parties’ behavior is causing problems.
Sometimes emotions can run high in rehab. There will be rules and regulations to prevent such conflicts getting out of hand, and for many people these confrontations will be part of the learning process. These are some of the most common reasons conflict occurs in this situation:
* There can be some clients who feel that they do not really want to be in rehab. They have felt forced into attending the inpatient treatment program or may only be there to get other people off their back. Such individuals can feel full of resentment, and this may boil over into conflict with other people staying at the rehab center.
* Addicts tend to be self-absorbed. When a group of self-absorbed people spend a great deal of time together, disagreements ensue. One of the challenges of rehab is learning how to interact better with others. This is a vital skill that can be applied to everyday life.
* Personality clashes can happen in rehab, or anywhere else for that matter. If the characteristics of one individual are too dissimilar to the characteristics of another, disagreements and misunderstandings may arise. For example, if one person sees the world from a materialistic point of view, this may bring them into conflict with those who are more spiritually inclined.
* Withdrawal symptoms usually mean that the individual is dealing with both mental and physical discomfort. They may deal with this discomfort by trying to take it out on other people.
* Addicts tend to be highly opinionated. Their low self-esteem means that they see everything in black and white – either right or wrong. Such a rigid way of viewing the world can get a person into trouble.
* The early steps of sobriety are daunting for some. Emotions run high. When people are feeling particularly emotional, they may come into conflict with others.
* In rehab, the individual will often have to face things that make them feel uncomfortable. They may handle their discomfort by becoming confrontational.
* Addicts tend to have maladaptive coping mechanisms. In fact, substance abuse may have been one of these faulty strategies. The fact that these individuals have poor coping skills can bring them into conflict with others. This is because they may use manipulation or anger as tools to get their own way. It is their job in rehab to learn more effective coping strategies.
There are things that can be done to avoid conflict in rehab. Sometimes it may be appropriate to prevent it from arising in the first place. These are tips for avoiding unnecessary conflict:
* One reason why people will come into conflict with others is that they feel their personal space is being invaded. Even in rehab, it is important to give people a bit of privacy.
* If people are feeling argumentative, then there is a good chance that they will fall into conflict with somebody else. Sometimes just openly admitting to feeling angry can be enough to diffuse the situation.
* If people are willing to listen, they can avoid conflict in many situations. If the individual feels that they are not being listened to, this will lead to angry.
* In many cases, the reason why people come into conflict is that they have expectations that were not met. These expectations will have been unrealistic to begin with. If the individual can do reality checks on their expectations, this may lessen the risk that they will end up feeling disappointed.
* A common reason for why people in rehab come into conflict with one another is that they fail to take into account each other’s feelings. Addicts tend to be self-absorbed, and this carries over into their recovery. This means that they can fail to take into account the effect their actions have on others. Spending more time thinking about how other people feel not only makes life in rehab easier, it also eases life in general.
* Poor communication is another cause of conflict. Clarifying what they mean can help diffuse conflicts and misunderstandings.
* Ignoring people is not a good way to deal with conflict. This type of passive-aggressive behavior actually makes the situation worse. Ignoring another people can be hard work, especially in a confined space like a rehab center.
* If people have strong opinions and feel intolerant toward differing opinions, they will be easily led into conflict. It is not necessary to agree with others, but it makes life easier to just accept that they think differently. An addict’s strong opinions mean that they are always clashing heads with others.
* Learning to be assertive can help to reduce the amount of conflict that people experience. This is because assertive communication is clear and honest. It does not involve trying to manipulate the other person. Assertive people attempt to get their own needs met while still respecting the rights of others.
Sometimes, avoiding conflict can lead to negative outcomes. This happens when there is an issue that needs to be dealt with, but the individual tries to ignore it. They may do this using conflict-avoidance strategies such as:
* Swallowing their feelings
* Changing the subject
* Avoiding the problem
The problem with these conflict-avoidance strategies is that they are only a short-term solution. In many cases, they will actually make the situation worse.
Here are a few tips for dealing with conflict in rehab:
* Each person will see a situation differently – they will have their own unique perspective. Giving each individual the opportunity to put forward their side of things can help to reduce tensions.
* It can be the case that both sides in a conflict are in the right. If this is the case, then it should be acknowledged and efforts should be made to reach a compromise.
* Anger just gets in the way of conflict resolution. When emotions are too high, each individual will be unable to listen because they are on the defensive. It is therefore necessary to reduce the level of anger so that the parties can once again think straight. Simple exercises like slow, deep breathing can be highly effective at allowing people to reign in their emotions.
* Adding embellishments to their point of view weakens a person’s case. It is therefore better if they provide their point of view in a clear and succinct manner with no exaggerations.
* Using I feel or I think statements can be more effective when explaining the situation. Focusing too much on you did this it just puts the other person on the defensive.
* When discussing a conflict, it is best if both parties are sitting down, as this is less threatening than standing up. Each individual needs to watch their body language so that they do not appear threatening.
* Physical confrontations are rare in rehab. If one individual feels physically or emotionally threatened by another, they should bring the matter to a therapist. This level of aggression is not tolerated and gets taken seriously.