You may be thinking, “I’m out of treatment! I’m all better! Now I can go live my life again.”
This is wrong. There is still more work to do, and to ignore the fact that you just got out of treatment and are vulnerable to relapse would not be good to do.
Once recovering addicts are finished with detoxing and going through whatever type of treatment their team recommended for them, things can feel confusing and even scary. These individuals have been extremely supported from the first moment they began treatment, with probably a psychiatrist, a nurse, a medical doctor, and a psychologist on staff assessing, poking and prodding, discussing, planning, and preparing; not to mention other people within the team such as a yoga or meditation instructor, a holistic doctor, physical therapist, friends, family, and more. Once treatment, as in residential, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient treatment is finished, what is the next step for recovering addicts? Where do they go, who do they turn to, and what transitions should they make in their lives to promote a continued recovery?
The relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40% and 60% (DrugAbuse.gov). This sounds high, yet relapse is part of the recovery process. While many recovering addicts will relapse several times, some may only a few times or not at all. Relapsing is based on several factors that should be considered during treatment so that a plan is in place and all people involved are being proactive and not reactive.
With that being said, setting up a relapse prevention plan should be the very first thing recovering addicts to after therapy, but it’s actually even more important to do this before treatment ends.
What a Relapse Prevention Plan is and How to Create One
A relapse prevention plan is made between a patient, which is the recovering addict, and his or her treatment team. It covers specifics such as who support people are in the addict’s life, identified coping skills, who to turn to in an emergency, how to stay away from triggers (people, places, things), how to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually, how often and when they will go to counseling and AA/NA meetings.
Here are 10 techniques to help recovering addicts stay on track.
- Recognize the stages of relapse
- Know your triggers
- Remember your reason for quitting
- Ask for help
- Care for yourself
- Manage withdrawal symptoms
- Distract yourself
- Call a friend
- Reward yourself
- Follow a model
This relapse prevention plan can be created with a counselor, psychiatrist, and anyone the recovering addict would like support from outside the world of treatment. Assuming on-going outpatient counseling, support groups, and a possible medication plan will continue on after treatment, professionals associated with them need to be involved in the planning process, as they know what is best for this individual.
Life After Rehab
Aside from the relapse prevention plan, recovering addicts need to ask themselves quite a few questions before they get out of treatment in order to guide what their life will be like once they do.
If you are getting out of treatment and back into the real world, ask yourself these questions:
- Where do I want to live? And will this living arrangement be conducive to my recovery. Am I around a lot of bars, liquor stores, or places I used to frequent that will be triggering? If not, am I willing to move to a different neighborhood or get a supportive roommate?
- Do I need to ditch some of my old friends? Where can I meet new sober friends or groups of people who will support me and my recovery? Should I get a pet to keep me company and to give me responsibility?
- Should I get involved in some sort of religious or spiritual group or attend services? What about yoga and meditation classes? Are there other holistic methods or techniques that may help me during this time?
- How will I manage my appointments such as counseling, support groups, 12-step, or doctor appointments? How can I hold myself accountable to continue going on a regular basis. Who can help with this accountability?
- What things can I do to continue on my journey of positive mental health? Are there places I can go and new activities that will promote my mental health? Do I have a mental health “coping skills box” that I can actually use?
- How will social media affect my transition back into the real world after treatment? Should I deactivate platforms altogether or unfollow certain pages or people who may trigger me? And should I add pages and people who will lift me up and be an inspiration during this difficult time?
- How will I provide structure to my own life? What limitations and guidelines will I set for my behaviors? How will I know if I’ve crossed a line and how will I make amends with that?
These are very important things to think about as you are on your way out the door of treatment and back into your home supporting yourself.
It is not a bad thing to feel anxious or even afraid of living life after treatment. There are legit concerns that need to be brought to light and things to be planned. You are not alone in this–everyone feels some sort of worry or anxiety when re-entering society after being in treatment. In a way, treatment is like a “mini-vacation” from the real world. Not exactly the Bahamas-type of vacation! But you are secluded from people you know and love, responsibilities you had on the outside, and your day-to-day activities have come to a halt. In treatment, you are looked after, cared about, and supported in a way you may never have experienced before. And it’s coming to an end.
That’s okay! It needs to. But after creating a strong and realistic relapse prevention plan with your treatment team and being proactive about getting things ready, you will have a great start to life after treatment.
Those who work with Continuum Recovery Center of Colorado understand your concerns about finishing treatment and starting your life again. They work with recovering addicts every single day and watch them successfully transition back to their lives. It takes a team, though. And the professionals at Continuum work together as a team to bring sobriety and life success to these individuals. They understand the obstacles that addicts face and how to support them once treatment is complete.
Don’t wait to plan for your life after treatment!