What to Expect the First Week Out of Rehabilitation Center
So you’ve done the first hard steps.
You recognized you have a problem. You sought help. You went through physical and mental withdrawal. You wrestled with the emotional demons that drew you to substance abuse. Now you’re leaving the facility sober and ready to face the world. The hard part is over, right?
In some ways yes, in some ways no. The first stage of recovery is the most intense, but without being on your guard and properly prepared, the difficulties of the second stage of recovery can sneak up on you.
Here are some difficulties in leaving a rehabilitation center that may be overlooked:
- Temptations are removed at a center. Centers are alcohol, drug, and substance free. Real life is not.
- In real life, there might not always be someone there to talk to 24-7 the way there is at many centers. You’ll need to find your own support system, which can be scary.
- All the stresses that led you to substance abuse are most likely still there. You’ll be tempted to return to past ways of dealing with them. But remember, now you have better coping mechanisms and can handle the stressors differently than before.
- There might be ramifications from past behaviors waiting for you at home. Many people realize they need help when their substance abuse begins to have consequences—rippling effects on family, friends, health, or involvement with the law. These consequences don’t go away when you become sober.
With this list of difficulties, the first week on your own may seem overwhelming. But in recovery, you grew to know yourself better. You learned to recognize your triggers. Be encouraged! It may feel that there’s so much ahead, but remember how far you’ve already come, how many skills and coping mechanisms you’ve already learned.
Many people have become and stayed sober before you, and it is possible for you as well. Here are some tips for successfully meeting your recovery goals:
Find a Support Group
What is the main difference between someone who stays sober and doesn’t stay sober? Having a support system. You may feel that you’re fine and can do it on your own, but we are all human. We all need consistent human community to help us meet our goals.
Humans are forgetful creatures. We may know the truth about how to avoid destructive habits, but if we aren’t reminded of the truth often, we forget. This is why you need weekly meetings such as 12-step programs. It’s not okay just to go to groups sometimes or when it’s convenient. It’s important to go to a group regularly and to surround yourself with encouraging friends.
On the flip side, stay away from people associated with your past lifestyle. Find reasons not to hang out with your old drinking buddies or drug-using friends.
Keep a Schedule
While in a facility, your daily schedule was most likely laid out for you. Now you have to figure out a schedule on your own. Buy a calendar or use your phone and write down a work schedule, grocery shopping schedule, meetings, family commitments, even sleep and meals if it helps. It seems like a small task, but a messy schedule can lead to stress, which can lead to reverting to old habits.
Take It Easy
Don’t overexert yourself. Especially if you’re returning to work, don’t take on too much that might lead to unnecessary stress. Don’t overbook your schedule. Remember to have grace on yourself—which includes understanding that you are human with limitations. Take time to get full nights of sleep and to eat good, nutritious meals.
Avoid Huge Changes
This may not be the time to decide to move across the country or start a new relationship. New life changes can make you feel out of balance, or strip you of your support system. Sometimes we can’t help the curveballs life throws at us, but at the very least, don’t pursue major life changes.
Be Wary of “Pink Cloud Syndrome”
Pink cloud syndrome is when someone is so happy with the progress they’ve made that they don’t notice a dangerous storm cloud approaching. Yes, there is room to celebrate markers in sobriety, but also be aware that celebration can lead to cockiness and complacency, which can lead to a downfall.
Recovery is a long journey. Not all of your problems will be solved right away. But that’s okay, because in time, with consistency, things will change. There is reason to have caution and prudence. But there is also hope.
If you are looking for a rehabilitation center, Victory Addiction Recovery Center’s licensed staff will be able to help you. They will also help you build coping skills so that you will successfully remain sober. If you or someone you know may struggle with substance abuse, contact Victory Addiction Recovery Center and ask about how to get help.
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