Life After Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment

Admitting you have an addiction is life-changing. A person’s path to recovery begins when they realize they have no control over their use of alcohol and substances, they take action, and they seek help. Asking for help is a powerful thing to do.

It means recognizing you have a loss of control over a part of your life and taking steps to get it back. Calling a treatment center can be scary, but going to treatment will bring about positive changes. Once active treatment finishes, life will not be the same, and there may be a time when you mourn the loss of your addictive environment.

The New Normal

Throughout our lives, challenges occur and they test our commitment to the new state of normalcy. A need to stay vigilant exists. Navigating how to remain sober is different than finding ways to drink alcohol or use substances. The reality is that the new normal takes some adjustment.

Peoples and places are difficult to leave, especially when a person can’t move to a different home or start a job in a new place. There are ways to recognize triggers and be aware of behaviors. Treatment never ends because staying sober is a lifetime commitment.

Being in treatment facilitates a sense of safety and positivity. After treatment, it feels like everyone leaves. One person said treatment is like being in a nest, and successfully finishing treatment is like being kicked out of the nest where you are expected to fly on your own. But are you truly alone? Leaving treatment doesn’t mean leaving your support system. Keeping in touch with therapists, group counselors, and sponsors can build on the foundation you created in treatment.

Stay Vigilant

Addicts are always working on their recovery. After going to treatment and completing a program, a part of the new normal is staying vigilant. Everyone has their moments. Outside factors affect us, leading us to be tempted. Even those who are in recovery for months or years can relapse.

The key is to be aware of your environment, your emotional health, and any shifts in your behavior. It’s not easy to always be vigilant, but there’s help available. Use the tools from treatment to push past barriers. Fall back on:

  • Group sessions at your treatment center
  • Individual therapy
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
  • Calling your sponsor
  • Calling your sober buddy

You’re not alone in the journey toward recovery. As with any journey, there are unexpected turns, but people will want to help you because they care.

Beware of Cross-Addiction

Cross-addiction occurs when a person replaces one addictive behavior with another. The switch from one addiction to another may not occur immediately. A person in recovery can go years before they turn to another vice to help them with feelings of anxiety, grief, depression, and not being in control.

The person knows the dangers of their addiction and will avoid going back to alcohol or substance abuse. Instead, they seek other ways to help them cope with their feelings. Replacing alcohol or substances with work, sex, or strict diets, for example, only facilitates dependence on another form of addiction.

In some cases, the person will replace alcohol or their preferred substance with something they believe to be less harmful, like marijuana. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that about 20 million people over the age of 12 have an addiction problem in the United States.

A support system can spot a new addiction. Friends, sober buddies, therapists, or those in group sessions can point out cross-addiction and help you. It is important to listen to those who want to help you.

Support Systems

Treatment and recovery go hand in hand. Every group session, meeting, and individual therapy appointment is another step in the recovery journey. When addicts use alcohol or substances to numb their feelings, they also push people away. Pushing people away protects the addict from facing their addiction.

Treatment is about learning to let those who love and care for you into your life. People who care about you want to help; they want to know how they can support you in your journey. Let them. Some ways to let them in are:

  • Talking with them about your addiction, triggers, and what recovery means to you.
  • Attending meetings. The people at meetings understand how addiction can rip your world apart. They also know how hard it is to put it back together. Listen to their stories and share yours.
  • Inviting family members to an individual session with your counselor or therapist. Therapy sessions provide a feeling of safety. Talking with our family in a safe place like a therapist’s office allows you to share your feelings and how behaviors of individual family members affect our addiction recovery.
  • Scheduling in-home visits with your therapist
  • Working privately with your therapist as needed

There’s Hope

You’re not alone. The new state of normalcy isn’t a lifestyle void of a support system. Lean on those who want to see you succeed. Accepting support and being vulnerable can be hard. Emotional and relapse prevention support tailored to your personal needs is possible. Zen Habits, a mindfulness blog, recently recommended a few things we can do to help adjust to the new normal:

  • Have a willingness to feel what we’re feeling
  • Have a willingness to face and sit in the middle of difficulty (patience)
  • Have compassion for ourselves and others
  • Have the ability to create connection and meaning

Take the lessons learned in treatment and apply them to new feelings and situations. Learn to be grateful for what you have now. Recognize the feelings that occur after treatment aren’t necessarily new, but the remainders of old feelings; use your coping strategies. Never forget you can always go to a meeting, join a support group, or talk with sober buddies or your therapist. You are not alone.

The new normal is scary, but it isn’t impossible to deal with. The chance to change, grow, and embrace opportunities is exciting. Spend time each day thinking about what you are grateful for, what you want to work on, and what your goals are for your recovery. Reach out to others in the recovery community to help you continue to feel like a part of something. There is meaning in your recovery and your life; belief in yourself is important. Connecting with others and creating a change in your life are positive steps in embracing who you are and want to become. There can be times when you feel isolated in your journey and need someone. If you feel you are alone, please call Achieve Concierge. We are here 24 hours a day to keep you on your path. We want you to succeed because we know you can. You can contact Achieve Concierge today at (619) 393-5871.

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