If you’ve made it through treatment and are soon going to be getting back to your real life, you have a lot to be proud of and thankful for. You also still have some challenges up ahead to plan for. The thought of living on your own again without the structure, or restrictions, of residential treatment is probably exciting, but it also brings uncertainty and fear.
There will be obstacles on your transformational path as you return to your life after treatment that will threaten your sobriety. By knowing about them and being prepared, you can avoid relapse and enjoy sustained recovery and lasting growth. Below we have listed seven obstacles that you should know about, with some tips to overcome them.
1. Toxic People: You really need to look at who is a good influence – keep these people – and who is a negative influence, either encouraging your addiction or pushing your buttons so that you use your addiction to self-medicate – drop those people. Dropping some people will be hard, but you need to tell them what they were doing before was harmful to you and you can’t be around that anymore if you are going to enjoy life and make good decisions. Instead, surround yourself with positive influences that can support and encourage your sobriety, because they really love you and are willing to help you be the best person you were designed to be.
2. Dangerous Places: Just as with the people in your life, some places just press buttons, bring back bad memories, or have too many temptations that eventually lead to using your addiction object. Find out where those places are and organize your life so that you can avoid them. If you absolutely can’t avoid a place that is a trigger, limit your time there or take another person along to support you and encourage your renewed desire to be in control of your life.
3. No Routine: As you re-enter your life, you will need to establish healthy routines and habits. This builds self-discipline, teaches you how to delay gratification, and builds impulse control skills. It also minimizes your down time, gets you proper rest and good nutrition, and helps you achieve wellness in all areas of your life. Establish a routine early, or stick to the same kind of routine you had during your residential treatment.
4. Increased Stress level: When you were in treatment, you were under some stress, but you were also protected from many stressors and, most importantly, you had a professional and strong peer support system in place to help you manage stress. Upon leaving treatment, life is going to show up. Life will bring some nice positive elements of your life (family, kids, freedom, no roommate, being able to go to restaurants or eat the things you like), but life will also bring a bunch of stressors to your doorstep. You really need to know how to avoid the avoidable stressors and how to deal with the unavoidable ones in a healthy way. Dealing with them well will strengthen you, but dealing with them poorly or ignoring them will weaken and injure you and make it easier to regress, struggle, and relapse.
5. Low Confidence in using skills: You have learned many skills in treatment and you need to practice them every day. Whether it is just getting up on time, taking a shower, eating regular and appropriate meals, saying please and thank you, or deeper skills like being happy you are alive, taking honest inventory each day and making amends, and identifying and discussing your feelings, all these only get better and stronger if you practice them every day. So have confidence in them and put them into action. Then ask others to give you feedback so you can grow in your skills and confidence in them.
6. Afraid of Community: You can’t do life alone. You might be embarrassed about your behaviors and your addiction before you went to treatment as you might have hurt loved ones or burned some bridges. Regardless, get over it and reach out to people. You need encouragement, workout partners, people to practice and strengthen your new skills with, people to pray for you, people to run options by, to get advice from, and to mentor you. Be humble and reach out. Say you’re sorry to those you’ve offended, and extend forgiveness to those who have offended you. You need people to get through and enjoy life with.
7. Lying to Yourself: For your treatment to work you need to be brutally open and honest with yourself. Perform some daily self-reflection to know where you are and where you are heading. This will help you to make corrections where needed and to also see the fruit when you are doing life well. Be open with others about what you are nervous about, what makes you hesitate, what makes you happy, and what your goals are. Don’t be afraid to tell some trusted people when and what you are struggling with because keeping those issues and wounds in the dark only leads to destruction, but letting the light in brings healing and transformation.
Getting back into your life will be a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. But by remembering what you learned in treatment and relying on the support system you have around you, you can see just what a transformed life in recovery can offer.
To learn more about treatment and long term care options, contact Lighthouse Network at 844-Life-Change (844-543-3242).