The New Year is looked at as a time of change and improvement. Although we don’t need it to be a certain time, day or month to make positive changes, there is something about January 1 that instills motivation in people. Many resolutions don’t stick, but many do. People are getting healthier, happier and smarter by the day, and all of this improvement starts with a simple goal.
If you were one of the brave addicts who made a commitment to lead a sober life in 2015, you may be getting ready to walk out of the doors of the rehab facility that you have called home for 30, 60 or 90 days. It’s very common to envision what your life will be like when you leave treatment. Many recovering addicts dream of being hugged, celebrated and welcomed into the world. You may be envisioning this, too.
It’s normal to feel this way because you’ve spent weeks or months in recovery, learning about yourself and the deep rooted reasons for your addiction. You may have forgiven yourself and others, made new friends and reached some point of spiritual growth through the 12 steps or meditation. What you may not realize is that the people on the outside may not be in the same stage that you are in.
People you hurt may still be hurt – or angry. Friends who are still using may not be in support of your recovery. You may have lost your job, your home or custody of your children. These things won’t fall into place in the amount of time you’re in rehab. It will be your responsibility to work toward growth in both your personal and professional lives.
Planning for Life After Rehab Starts in Treatment
You may not want to think about negative things in recovery, but you should. Planning for life at home should begin during treatment, not after. It’s important to be realistic and to prepare for the known challenges you will face. Start talking with counselors and life coaches in the safe, controlled environment of rehab. They will teach you life skills that will increase your confidence and help you deal with stress in a positive, healthy manner.
If you know that you will need to find a new job, for instance, you can start preparing for the skills you’ll need to write a resume, go on interviews and enter the workforce. If you damaged personal relationships, understand that these individuals need their own time and space to reach a level of forgiveness. By taking responsibility for your actions and holding true to the things you say today, you will see a change in many of these relationships.
Not only should you consider the challenges that you will face when you leave treatment, but also how you will build a healthy, sober lifestyle. You cannot be complacent and expect sobriety to fall into place. You have to actively work at it. Where will you live when you leave rehab? Is the environment safe, supportive and sober? What will you do to prevent boredom?
Keep Expectations Realistic
Maybe you have been thinking about what life will be like when you return home, but your expectations are high. Possibly too high. You may be feeling so positive in your recovery, your expectations are unrealistic. People need time to forgive. Reputations won’t improve overnight. Getting back into the swing of things may prove tougher than you could have imagined.
Take things one day at a time and keep expectations realistic. In the early days of recovery, you may not be able to handle any more than simply getting through your day sober. A new job, a new car or your own apartment may have to wait.
As you do work on rebuilding your life, remember that you are fragile. You deserve this time in your life to get familiar with the new you and your new normal. You need time to accept that you had to give up old friends or even a significant other to get clean.
You may also be realizing for the first time the implications of your addiction: no money, no home, children you can’t see, etc. Don’t try to take on too much just to prove something to yourself or others. By being realistic about what you can expect from yourself, you can adjust your expectations accordingly. Remember, each day is progress – a step forward.
Do More Than Just Give Up Drugs
One of the worst things you can do is simply give up drugs and alcohol. This isn’t enough. You must have a plan for how you want to live your life. Who do you want around you? What do you want your relationships to be like? How will you deal with unpleasantness in your life? What outlets will you use to relieve stress?
If you believe that the absence of drugs and alcohol will eliminate all problems from your life, you’re going to be disappointed. Addiction is a disease that requires continuous care. It does get easier over time, but you must be prepared to nurture yourself, choose relationships wisely and keep stress under control. It is with this attitude that you will reach sobriety, not with the simple elimination of drugs.
Remember, you can accomplish anything when you’re sober.