Treatment Is Over… What Happens Now?
Many people entering the treatment process are focused completely on recovery and gaining sobriety. Oftentimes they overlook a fundamental part of not just getting sober but staying sober. Staying sober is sometimes only half the battle. A plan for reintegration back into society after treatment is just as, if not more, important.
You have to consider all parts of your life from before and decide what you need to cut out and what you need to work on. Are your friends good or bad influences? Do you have or need to find employment? Do you have a safe place to stay that’s not going to cause a relapse (for example, staying on your friend’s couch that you used to do meth with is probably not the best idea)?
All of those questions and more will have to be addressed and worked through if you want to be successful in your recovery.
Rid Yourself of Toxic People and Places.
Once treatment is completed, you have to look at what kind of life you are returning to. While in treatment, everyone around you is focused on the goal of getting sober. Everyone is supportive and it is much easier to avoid temptation and relapse.
Once home, all the old familiar faces and places will be around. Did you have friends that enabled you or participated in your addiction? These are the friends it would be best to cut ties with. Getting rid of the toxic people in your life will lessen the temptation to relapse because of “just once more for old time’s sake” or “come on, we’re celebrating.”
Similarly, there are probably places that you’ll want to avoid. Avoiding the “old hangout” is a start, but what about a park that you used to get high in? Did you have a favorite bar? By avoiding even going to that area or down that street you can avoid temptation and the unconscious mental triggers that many find hard to ignore in the beginning stages of recovery.
Not everyone and everywhere, however, is toxic. You will want to take the time to work on your support group outside of treatment and make it as strong as possible. If you can reconnect with supportive friends and family, you will have an even stronger base network. If family is actually the problem, then finding a good sober living facility may be the best option.
Do You Know How to Manage Your Stress and Triggers?
You also need to learn how to deal with the stress of everyday living once you come out of a program. Being in a treatment program can be stressful but you are also protected from many stressors. You also had access to professional and strong peer support.
According to a report funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, stress can contribute to substance use, but it can also motivate people to seek addiction treatment. Numerous other studies suggest that stress can trigger relapse after a period of abstinence.
Because addiction and mental health usually exist comorbidly, you really need to know how to avoid the avoidable stressors and how to deal with the unavoidable ones in a healthy way.
Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can improve mental health. It is important to put stress in perspective and maintain a positive attitude during difficult times. If you’re someone who obsesses over perfection, finding ways to overcome this problematic mindset can help alleviate stress.
It is also important to rest the mind. Without periodic rest, the brain and body may not recover from stress. Taking time to avoid situations that induce stress at work or home can be mentally and emotionally beneficial to people in recovery.
Get Yourself in a Routine.
As you re-enter your life, you will need to establish healthy routines and habits. This builds self-discipline, trains you how to delay gratification, and builds impulse control skills. It also minimizes your downtime, leaving you less time to dwell on cravings or other negative thoughts.
Taking healthy and deliberate steps to develop a sober lifestyle will guarantee the support you need, even when things get stressful, boring, or uncertain.
The act of practicing recovery daily typically involves several different aspects of life, so building a sober routine for yourself may include:
- Consistently waking up at a certain time every morning.
- Making time for daily exercise.
- Planning and cooking healthy meals.
- Regularly attending a sobriety support group and fellowshipping with other sober peers.
- Taking time for self-care.
- Establishing a chore schedule to keep your living space clean and organized.
- Practicing a personal hygiene routine.
- Going to school or work.
- Developing a predictable childcare routine (if applicable).
- Keeping a daily journal.
- Learning new things/skills.
Starting a new healthy routine is the hardest part. Once you have yourself organized and have a plan and direction in place, it gets easier to follow. The longer you maintain your routine the better the overall outcome will be. Just remember not to try and take on too much at once. Adding one thing at a time and maintaining that is better than overwhelming yourself.
There Will be a Stigma. How do You Overcome It?
Stigma refers to a set of negative assumptions which society believes about some people. Having gone through treatment for addiction, this could put you in a position where you’re forced to carry the stigma of having a history of substance abuse.
Sadly, it is not only society that can perpetuate stigma, but an individual’s own family and friends as well. Many people don’t comprehend what all is involved with addiction and incorrectly assume it is a moral issue.
The stigma of substance abuse is another major obstacle to an effective mental health system. In fact, it is one of the principal reasons many people avoid getting the help they need. Even after a former drug user has been successfully treated, it can be a severe obstacle for people trying for social reintegration.
It’s nearly impossible to hide or ignore stigma because people simply can’t conceal it. If there is a silver lining, it’s that the impacts can be reduced or prevented through education, since stigma is based on generalizations, prejudices, and assumptions, rather than facts.
Make Sure You Have Goals.
Having goals after successfully completing a treatment program is essential. It gives you something to work toward, and it gives you something to look forward to. Remember to keep in mind that you should not be overwhelmed by your goals. Your goals should follow a SMART pattern as shown below:
- S = Specific: Do you know exactly what you want to accomplish with all the details? Goals must be well defined. They must be clear and unambiguous.
- M = Measurable: Can you quantify your progress so you can track it? How will you know when you reach your goal? Define specific criteria for measuring progress toward the accomplishment of each goal you set so that you can measure and keep track of your progress.
- A = Attainable: Is your goal a challenge but still possible to achieve? Goals must achievable. The best goals require you to stretch a bit to achieve them but they are not impossible to achieve.
- R = Realistic: Is your goal realistic and within your reach? Are you willing to commit to your goal? Almost certainly your goal is realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.
- T = Timely: Does your goal have a deadline? Goals must have a clearly defined time frame including a starting date and a target date. If you don’t have a time limit then there is no urgency to start taking action towards achieving your goals.
Your goals need to be specific to you and relevant in your life. It could be anything from getting a job or your G.E.D. to using the knowledge you already have to start your own business. Whatever it is, having goals will give you a purpose in life and also help establish a routine.
Consider Joining an Alumni Program.
Alumni programs are an excellent way to help you stay on track after recovery. Our alumni support keeps you connected to Serenity Lodge’s large network of former clients.
This allows you to continually fine-tune skills and tools acquired during treatment to keep you sober. Using your peers as resources will also allow you to refine relapse prevention techniques, minimizing your potential to revert back to using.
Our alumni can also take advantage of Serenity Lodge-specific recovery groups. Not only is it a great way to maintain sobriety, but it also strengthens relationships with your peers. Going through long-lasting recovery can be tough, but having a strong network eases the process.
Even after finishing treatment at Serenity Lodge, Clients are more than welcome to reconnect with therapists and counselors. We’re always happy to hear about your recovery progress and how you’ve adjusted to a life without substances. In fact, we even offer workshops, educational classes and further treatment when needed. Please, if you, or someone you know, needs help, feel free to contact us at SerenityLodge.com
Or call us at (866) 379-4365.
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