Blockout Time: What Is It and Why Is It Vital to Addiction Treatment?

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Individuals staying in an inpatient facility often experience blockout time as a part of their treatment and recovery. This can be a vital part of the rehab experience. Blockout can allow patients to work on their recoveries in an intensely focused way.

What Is Blockout Time?

Blockout or blackout time is a point in a person’s treatment, usually in an inpatient or residential center, where they do not have contact with the outside world. This may seem harsh, but it is actually a tried-and-true method that helps many individuals slow down and think about what they really want: from their recoveries and for their lives. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “No single treatment is appropriate for everyone,” but this practice has been known to be incredibly helpful for many recovering addicts, especially those requiring more intensive treatment.

How Long Does Blockout Time Last?

Individuals in recovery go through this period usually for a few weeks or so. In many cases, blockout time occurs during detox and may extend slightly beyond the time the individual is recovering from their withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, certain residential rehab centers will extend a person’s blockout time if they believe the individual needs more time away.

Why Do Patients Need Blockout Time?

There are several reasons why this period is vital to addiction treatment and recovery.

  • A person in addiction treatment needs to focus on themselves. If the patient is constantly being bombarded by family and friends––even if they mean well––this can take away from their focus and their ability to concentrate on their recovery.
  • Having contact with family and friends or anyone in the outside world during early recovery can bring up bad or stressful feelings and thoughts that the patient does not need to be thinking about at the time. When someone else comes to visit, they will always bring their own baggage and issues with them, and even if they refrain from speaking about them, the patient may still begin thinking about things that will upset them. Blockout time takes this problem out of the equation.
  • Patients in addiction rehab actually have a rare opportunity: they are able to think about what they want out of life without the myriad distractions people usually experience on a daily basis. This is not only rare and, in some ways, enjoyable, it is also necessary because people who have been abusing drugs and have decided to seek help are at a crossroads in life. They need to have the daily issues they experience stripped away so they can truly get to the root of the problem and decide where they want to go from here.

Ways to Cope

Blockout time may be necessary, but it can also be difficult. Many people feel like it is a punishment, even though it’s not, and the first few weeks of treatment can feel very lonely for some individuals. Here are some ways you can cope.

  • Bringing pictures of your family members and friends to your treatment facility is a good way to cope with blockout time and to remind yourself that your loved ones are all still supporting your decision to seek help.
  • Making friends with the individuals in your treatment program is obviously not the reason you’re there, but it can also be truly helpful to your recovery. Group therapy in treatment can provide patients with another layer of community support, according to the NIDA, and many people also create positive relationships with their doctors, nurses, and counselors to find the support they need.
  • Reminding yourself that you needed time away from your loved ones in order to get better is vital as well. Remember, you sought treatment so you could make a change, and this is just part of the process.