Drug abuse and alcoholism can turn our lives upside down. For those who are fortunate enough to choose a different path before it’s too late, there is hope. Usually, that hope begins with a cry for help. Help for substance abuse can come in different forms.
One of the more successful approaches is to begin with an addiction treatment program. Sometimes, a more intense level of treatment is recommended. When this is the case, residential inpatient programs are the best strategy.
These are structured residential programs that provide a drug and alcohol free learning environment. But, what happens on the day when we must walk out of the cozy, protective setting at a residential treatment facility? Staying clean and sober can be a scary proposition at any point in your recovery, especially at times of dramatic change.
The key is to arm yourself with a defense against this natural feeling. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the uneasiness associated with leaving a residential treatment facility, and how you can turn those negative thoughts in your favor.
It’s Okay Not to Feel Okay
First and foremost, let’s erase any myth about the idea that there is something wrong with you if you’re worried about this stage of recovery. You cannot remain at a residential treatment facility indefinitely.
You will have to face the challenges of the real-world, eventually. If you’re worried about staying clean and sober, you’re not alone. One of the reasons you chose a more intense recovery path offered by a residential inpatient program was to establish a foundation for successful recovery.
It is during these periods of apprehension that you will be called upon to use the knowledge and tools you were gifted during treatment. Let’s talk about how you can prepare for the challenges of recovery, not just leaving residential treatment.
Three Tips to Follow When You Leave Any Addiction Treatment Program
One way to change your thinking from the negativity of worry to a positive is to appreciate it for what it is. It’s when you aren’t concerned about losing your focus on recovery that there could be a problem.
The recovery world is full of stories about individuals who became complacent. Your time in a residential treatment facility is going to be structured for a reason. Structure will help develop sound habits. When you deviate from these, you increase the risk of a relapse.
Here are some tools to use that can help reduce the level of anxiety surrounding the day you complete your residential treatment. These are all suggestions, but so is pulling the cord on a parachute after you jump from an airplane. The choices are yours.
- Stay in the Now – Following a daily-focused program may seem like an overused cliché in substance abuse recovery. However, it may be the most important concept you ever learn. Envisioning an entire life without another drink or drug is enough to scare almost any clean and sober addict or alcoholic.
This can be such an overwhelming thought; it triggers us to think what’s the use, that’s impossible? Today is all we have in recovery and focusing on it helps develop good sober habits.
Stick to a structured daily schedule, but keep it grounded in that single 24-hour period. One day is a whole lot easier to handle than one year, ten years, or especially the rest of our lives.
There are people with years of recovery who insist there were times when they held onto their sobriety one moment at a time. Just for today removes the guilt from yesterday and dilutes the fear of tomorrow.
- Stay Vigilante – As we mentioned, if you seem to become unconcerned with your recovery program, you need to be concerned immediately. Complacency has derailed years’ worth of clean and sober time. We must stay vigilante.
Recovery is a journey not a destination. Initially, you will absorb and learn from like-minded people walking this same journey with you. As you grow, there will soon come a point where you share your experience to help another.
The idea is to stay vigilante in the recovery process. The one at a day theory helps this immensely. We say that if we do what we did today, there’s a decent chance we’ll stay clean and sober tomorrow.
Establish a recovery routine during your time in residential treatment and then carry that routine with you when you leave. It will provide you with a form of security when apprehension begins to creep into your thoughts. It will happen, be ready for it.
- Stay Connected – None of these three suggestions is really more important than the other. However, staying connected with others in recovery can help reestablish the other two if you get bumped off track.
People in the recovery world seem to have a keen understanding of one another. It starts with staying connected with your counselors after you leave treatment. It also means taking the initiative to be building a network of recovery connections continually.
Some of these connections will begin during residential treatment. They often last a lifetime. You may also continue to build connections in a sober living environment, or by continuing with an outpatient program.
Recovery fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are tremendous assets. They are excellent venues to form bonding relationships with fellows in recovery.
It is also a superb way to stay connected with the foundation you built in treatment. Every type of relationship you foster in recovery is designed to keep you focused on a single priority.
Your foremost goal in life must be to do the things necessary to stay clean and sober. Staying connected can help save you the agony of a relapse by helping keep your eye on what matters, your sobriety.
What do you do when you feel uneasy about leaving the cozy, protective environment at a residential treatment facility? Always remember that you’re not alone. There are going to be tough days and tough challenges in recovery.
However, if you stay in today, stay vigilante and stay connected you make it through anything in sobriety. If you’re still out there in the mix, fearing that there is no way out of the darkness, ask for help today. Remember, recovery is a beautiful, not an ultimate destination. The journey begins with asking for help. Call us today at (440) 253-9915.