Residential Treatment Is Just the Beginning
Many people believe that once they finish a treatment program, their work is done, they are cured, and they should be ready to return to normal life. They feel that rehab is all the treatment they need to absorb, the addiction is licked, and they can relax and be without any addiction trouble ever again. This view might also be that of the family, especially fathers who think, “OK, we got junior to treatment; they fixed him, and that addiction crap is all behind us.”
Those initial 30-90 days of sobriety and intensive treatment are just the beginning, however, and it will take time and hard work to get back to not just your old life, but often a much better one than could be imagined. Everyone who goes through treatment faces the risk of relapse, but by taking this advice to heart and by relying on the support of those who care, you can succeed in living the sober and transformed life you have been hoping for.
Recovery Takes Time
Don’t try to rush recovery. Your addiction and downward spiral took several years, and maybe even decades, to develop, so it won’t go away in a 30 – 90 day treatment experience. When you were involved with your addiction, your psychological development was stunted, and for some of you, even went backwards. So even though you are your current chronological age, emotionally and psychologically you might be much more immature than others your age. You have some work to do to catch up. Don’t get frustrated, remember, it’s better than staying in your addiction and continuing to become more immature. It will take a while but every day gets better and easier if you are doing the right things.
It Takes Practice to Live Substance-Free
Just because you listened to some lectures about addictions, learned all the physical, psychological, and spiritual consequences of addiction, and memorized it to repeat to your loved ones doesn’t mean you have the skills to stay addiction-free. There is a difference between knowing the information in a chemistry lecture and practicing real live chemistry in action in a lab and not getting hurt. Just as with any skill, the more you practice, the better you get. Sober and transformed living takes time, practicing the right things, and the support of others to accomplish your goals.
You Need to Learn to Cope
Your addiction developed as a coping skill to deal with some internal stress or problem. Now that you don’t have your addiction as your coping mechanism, that internal stress-inducing core issue still needs to be dealt with because it won’t go away on its own. It will take you a while to learn better and healthier coping skills to deal with those pressures and stresses as well as new stressors while making sure you don’t fall back into your addiction behavior to cope with life.
You Will Continue to Change
Because of the addiction behavior, your brain circuitry has really been damaged. It takes almost a year for marijuana and alcohol to get out of your brain, and even longer for some of the stronger or synthetic hallucinogens. So through this all-important and critical first year free from your addiction, your emotional, relational, psychological, and thinking skills will continue to grow, and each month you will find yourself being almost a new person. You will start to feel feelings, and think things that you haven’t felt or thought in a long time because the addiction covered them up or your mind just couldn’t function. Becoming whole again and getting your brain back is good news. The bad news is some of the thoughts and feelings might be more intense than you are used to dealing with. You need to learn new skills to tolerate these new thoughts and be able to manage them clearly and in a more healthy way than you did with your addiction. This is where practicing and putting into action those new coping skills really makes a difference as you will be able to make healthy decisions instead of going back to your addiction to escape or block them out.
Take Inventory and Compare to Now to Then
Don’t be discouraged by the changes and adversities you will face along the way as you leave residential treatment and move into your new life. Remember how hard life was before you went to treatment, because where you are now and where you’re going is soooooo much better than the hell you were living before. Count the costs that were sucked out of you from all areas of your being – physical, psychological, financial, relational, spiritual, and emotional.
Sobriety and Transformation is Yours to Grab
Continue to work at what you learned during rehab and apply the new skills to your life. Pretty soon you will be feeling better and more confident in your sober life. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you feel weak. Your recovery staff, family, and friends that want you to succeed can be good sources of support when you have a difficult day. Stay away from the people that contributed to your addiction or were willing to help you stay addicted; they are not your friends.
When you dial 1-877-562-2565, you are connected with a trained Lighthouse Network Care Guide who will listen to your story, answer your questions, and find your best treatment options available.
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