So you’ve been living in treatment for the past 30, 60, or 90 days. You’ve been doing immense therapy at least five days out of the week and have been surrounded by people who are in the same shoes as you – trying to recover from the perils of addiction.
Suddenly the safety of net of your twin bed, prepared food, and cheerleaders by your side 24/7 get cast to one side and the real world hits you like a bug on a windshield; and this time you’re sober. Your treatment “bubble” is popped and the realities of life feel overwhelming and you’re not sure what is up from down. What now? You are embarking on your new life as a sober member of society, and like any new undertaking, there is not doubt it will be challenging. While you may want to “get back” and work on other aspects of your life, staying sober should be your priority.
It took me seven years on what I like to call the “tour de-rehab” to finally get sober. I found a few of these tips to be pivotal in my continued journey to sobriety.
Continue with treatment
Some treatment centers have “aftercare” options, and if you are lucky, your facility set this up for you upon discharge. Whether than means going to group once a week, or seeing a therapist on your own, anything like this can be beneficial. Navigating a newly sober world can be complex and stressful situations can be sometimes triggering. Studies show that people who stay longer in some sort of treatment program have a 68% to 71% success rate. It is wise to still have an outlet to guide you through this fragile and tedious process to gain insight and feedback.
Choose friends wisely
“A good friend will always stab you in the front.” – Oscar Wilde
Surrounding yourself with people who are there in times of struggle is important. Duly noted, it’s important to have people who understand the changes you are trying to make, and who will hold you accountable when you aren’t living up to them. These people will tell you the hard truth, and wont sugar coat things. These are true friends that care. If you get irritated, it may ring true to some sense, and you may thank them in the long run.
Recognize your relapse process
For so long, using drugs or drinking have been second nature to us. We use when we’re angry, we use when we’re happy, we use when we’re frustrated, and we use when we’re bored. So naturally, relapse is common when trying to get sober, but definitely not necessary. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60% of addicts relapse. It is smart to recognize your relapse process, and to be able to identify some of the symptoms that can lead you there beforehand. Catch yourself before you fall down a slippery slope!
Here are just a couple of relapse warning signs:
- Mood swings
- Not asking for help
- Not going to meetings
- Poor eating habits
- Poor sleep habits
Nobody gets sober to be miserable! It’s a common misconception that you can only have fun if you’re drinking or getting high. Many before us have proved these misconceptions wrong. Find new things you like to do other than drinking a cold one (or twelve) after work. Ever wanted to take a cooking class? Now’s the time. Want to take a creative writing class? Do it! Have a game night with a couple of sober friends. Go see a comedy show. Some of the best laughs I’ve had have been sober ones, and better yet – remembered.
Make a list of goals you want to set for today, tomorrow, six months, or a year. Put them somewhere like the notepad in your phone, or a book on your nightstand. Use a list of your goals as a bookmark in a book you’re reading. Go back and look at them from time to time. You’ll be surprised how the “sober you” can actually attain these goals.