Transitioning from Treatment into Real Life
Treatment To Real Life Sobriety
Early abstinence while actively working a quality program of recovery is like being liberated from years of the worst kind of slavery imaginable, many can’t remember the last time they have felt so free, so good. However, the real work is actually just beginning, and it is fraught with challenges. Recovery from substance abuse, upon completing an outpatient treatment program, will require you put everything you have learned into practice every single day. The commitment to recovery must come before all else in life, or as statistics prove, relapse is all but a given. Individuals must stick to a plan as they transition from a program back into real life. Addiction is the deepest form of habit, and one must take every precaution and have every tool in their belt available when those old habits come calling, and rest assured, come they will.
A comprehensive treatment program needs to teach tactics and strategies for overcoming all the ups and downs life presents. ‘Living life on life’s terms’ are the watchwords of active recovery at every stage and it will most certainly call for digging deep and taking ‘right action’ at every single junction, no matter how difficult the conditions of life may prove, or how enticing having ‘just one’ drink or drug may sound to get through the tough times. It NEVER ends there, it simply starts all over again and many people simply don’t have another attempt at recovery in them. The transition back into life and the continued lifestyle of abstinence is an art, not a science. It can’t be said enough that a thoughtful, detailed long-term ‘continued care’ plan is essential for a lasting recovery, complete with active participation in a network of peer support.
Planning for Life After Rehab Should Begin During Rehab
Successful treatment programs will address the transition back into life and relapse prevention consistently throughout the recovery program, and many well-qualified ones will sharply shift the focus of treatment to this about halfway through. We like to say that relapse begins before you even pick up a drink or drug. It begins when one isn’t keeping vigilant of their thoughts, or isn’t applying the skills they have learned to intercept and successfully divert those dangerous addictive thoughts. As the case with many, it begins the second an alcoholic or addict gets complacent in working their program and puts another aspect of life before the concepts of recovery. Early integration of strategies for real-life transitioning serves as a stark reminder to individuals that they will soon move out of the ‘comfort and protection of professional treatment’, once again being fully in charge of their own decisions and actions as the challenges of the real world greet them head on.
Planting these seeds early and often provides individuals with the benefit of growing accustomed to the idea that they will be back out, free and on their own, and that they will be armed with the tools and skills to remain abstinent after rehab. BUT, they MUST use them every step of the way.
A few of the IGotSober Recovery Center strategies for growing in Recovery:
A thorough education on the nature of addiction, its causes and how it manifests itself in everyday life. You’ll come to have a much deeper self-knowledge and how your individual thoughts, decisions and actions govern the quality of your life in recovery. You’ll develop an awareness of your addictive thoughts and be able to, with constant vigilance, observe them arise and thus identify the warning signs of relapse. Just as important is understanding how to take swift, decisive actions to keep you moving forward in recovery.
Strategies on how to how to transform your addictive thoughts into constructive, healthy thought patterns, and positively respond (not react) to impulsive urges, cravings or external cues that can so easily trigger alcohol or drug use.
Integration of close, supportive family members and healthy friends in the counseling and therapy so they may learn how they can best be prepared to help in the lifelong journey of recovery.
Learning to live in the Present Moment. Whenever we start identifying with regrets of the past or start fearing what may come in the future, we lose our mental grounding and become vulnerable to old thoughts and habits. We all have ‘blind spots’ and as soon as we shift our awareness out of the spacious present, those blind spots start opening the doors trouble. Accepting what is in the moment and focusing on how you can do ‘the next right thing’ for yourself and others is a crucial aspect to a healthy sobriety.
Exercises to build confidence that long-term recovery is not just a temporary state but a true and permanent reality. That is, as long as Recovery is put first and foremost every day. Individuals will come to understand how they can overcome obstacles both on their own or with the help of professionals, family, friends and of course, with active participation in a structured peer recovery group.
Having Daily Structure Can Ease the Transition from Rehab to Life
Naturally, the home environment is not as controlled as that of a treatment center, but it can be modified to promote sobriety. A clear and thoughtful structure increases the individual’s confidence in the ability to stay sober and fosters an environment of healthy daily habits. Daily activities should be planned to stay physically and mentally active, overcome boredom (the importance of which cannot be overstated) and drawing healthy boundaries around those people places and things that cause ‘stress’. Something to consider: ‘Stress’ is not a thing in and of itself, rather it is created by how an individual perceives and deals with the conditions in their life circumstances and surroundings, as well as personal and work relationships. The planning can begin during treatment to facilitate the transition back to home life upon completion.
A few of the activities that a typical day can include:
Exercise and Recreation. Aerobic exercise can reduce cravings and the risk of relapse by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone (neurotransmitter) in the brain that helps control the reward and pleasure centers. Levels of dopamine increase when drugs are used, and the spike in dopamine due to exercise gives an individual a perceptions of reward and pleasure but in the best way possible…without alcohol or drugs. Low levels of dopamine have been shown to exist in people prone to addiction. So it is critical, especially in early recovery, to engage in activities that stimulate dopamine release so as to offset the drop off that comes from the elimination of drugs and alcohol in the body. Naturally stimulating dopamine release is the name of the game. Exercise, engaging in new activities and spending time in Nature are just a few ways to reduce levels of certain addiction-associated proteins (called extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1 and 2) by a whopping 32 to 42 percent. Aerobic exercise also improves mood and self-confidence, not to mention the benefits that come from an improved physical appearance.
Work and chores. Staying occupied and being productive can help prevent relapse after treatment. Productivity allows individuals to have better self-esteem and a feeling of purpose so that the temptation to return to dangerous behaviors decreases. Staying occupied limits the spare time not only where individuals will experience cravings, but the time in which individuals may start entertaining the thought of using drugs or alcohol ‘just one more time’. There is a saying “Depression can’t hit a moving target”, and this applies in a very real way to addiction, too.
Finding New Area of Interest: During active addiction, which has typically consumed years or decades of our life, we’ve ignored the areas of life where we have had a natural or innate interest in once upon a time. Reading, taking an online course, internet chat-groups, researching topics of interest and exploring the ‘constructive and knowledge building’ You-Tube videos are but a few ways to rekindle that inner spark, as well as uncover a new interest in life we never knew existed.
Build a Support System. A multi-layer support system can ease the transition back into real life after substance abuse rehabilitation and help the individual maintain sobriety.
Plan Early and Take a Long-Term Approach. Individuals, family, and friends need to understand that recovery from substance abuse is a long-term (usually life-long) process that requires ongoing effort and creativity. Like caring for chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, recovery requires daily if not hourly attention especially in the early stages of sobriety.
Whether it’s to share the gift of Recovery to those still suffering or just helping those in need whatever the cause, volunteering your time spend with another can make all the difference in the world to them as well as you. Although it usually takes the form of sharing experiences in conversations, simply being present with another can make just as much of a difference.
It is said we are “Spiritual beings having a human experience.” Countless people discover this to be an absolute Truth when they are liberated from addiction and move into real recovery. Experiences are encountered that defy understanding and that ‘blow the Doors of Perception’ wide open.
They encounter dimensions of themselves they never knew they had, and many embark on a deep Spiritual journey whose rewards are beyond words. There are endless ways to explore our inner-nature, and we never know what we may find. The Universe is infinite on the inner planes, just as it is in the outer.
If you would like to find out more, please feel free to contact igotsober Recovery Center today about our outpatient program.