The New Normal: Life After Treatment
A common fear after finishing a treatment program stems from one question: What’s next? This question provokes fear because it reflects the unknown. Going home means we return to the place where our addiction got the best of us. And now that we are clean and sober, a legitimate fear is falling into that pattern once again. In treatment, we feel the security of the staff, the facility, and our fellow comrades in battle. But at home, we find a world part of us wants to leave behind.
Where do we start? The simple answer is taking it day by day. Of course, this is easier said than done. While it may seem scary to return to the place you were once suffering, now, you are stronger, more knowledgeable and have positive coping strategies to combat the evils of addiction. You are not the same person as before. You are now a survivor and addiction warrior.
Changing It Up
When we first return home from treatment, it’s easy to fall back into the same routines as before. Some routines may have to stay the same, such as going to school, doing chores, watching siblings, or going to work. But now, we have wonderful additions we can input at any time.
Think back to your coping mechanisms and new-found life skills. Where can you add in a daily walk, an hour of art therapy or a weekly adventure? When can you add in 10 minutes of meditation, 30 minutes of worship/devotionals, or alone time to be with yourself to process your thoughts and feelings? If there was a certain time of day you used or drank, that’s a great spot to switch it out with a new hobby or coping mechanism. If you smoked every day after school, use that time to exercise instead. If you drank late at night to help yourself get to sleep, try reading a book, watching an episode of a new TV show, or start a new hobby such as calligraphy, learning a new language, or building models.
Like anything, routines take time to establish, but the more you choose health, the easier it becomes. This is the beauty of recovery. You have the power to change the way in which you live and celebrate a brighter future.
The People Problem
A significant factor in returning to a healthy home is removing anything that could possibly bring us back down the road to addiction. Unfortunately, this includes people. It may feel mean or painful, but to stay clean and sober, we can’t hang around the people we used or drank with. In the beginning, we may feel confident and strong, but we can’t forget all the work we just did to get this far. The voice of addiction will fight to stay around, and it will trick you into thinking you can hang without getting messed up. The more we hang around with a group who uses or drinks, the easier it will be to rationalize using one more time.
40-60% of substance users relapse at least once. And let’s be clear—relapsing does not mean failure! But it does mean a lot of people stumble before they can walk confidently again. (“Treatment and Recovery”) With those stats in mind, we want to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep ourselves on the track to success. Hanging around with users and drinkers may not push us to relapse, but it sure doesn’t set us up for success.
It may feel like you’ll never find a good group of friends again but remember that there are over 7 billion people on this planet. There are plenty of people waiting to meet you and start a healthy and happy relationship.
“But what about the people I really love? Can’t I keep a few people in my life?” It is possible to keep some of the same friends, but there is heavy caution in those words. To assess old friend groups means tough conversations.
If you’re looking to keep old friends, it means letting them know you are clean and sober and not looking to go back down that road. It means setting a hard line surrounding using and saying you will walk away if they do. If they can be your champion and respect your boundaries, they may still have a place in your life. But if they break those boundaries, even once, then it’s time for you to look for a new group.
Moving Beyond Treatment
We have to remember how important these changes are. We have to remember why we started the journey to sobriety. The life we once lived didn’t work for us. It brought us down a dark road that wasn’t serving our highest self. It got us in trouble. It made us sick. Now, we have unlimited options for new roads, but we must take the time to forge those paths.
If you or an adolescent you know is struggling with an addiction or has relapsed, Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center can help. Their treatment programs are based on the latest scientific research and recovery techniques to ensure the greatest percentage of success. Call today at (662) 478-9463 to get back on track.