Completing treatment can be both exciting and terrifying. Many individuals who find themselves in a substance abuse treatment program are there because they have spent some amount of time abusing a substance. This means that an individual’s body and mind has become accustomed to functioning at its best with the presence of the abused substance. Removing the substance from one’s system, the detox period, can be an arduous experience. Learning how to cope without the abused substance and reintroducing an individual to certain experiences without the presence of the abused substance in his or her system can be quite challenging. Treatment is the place for substance abusers to begin to reteach one’s body and mind how to function without abusing drugs and/or alcohol. In some ways treatment is a safe bubble for individuals to practice integrating new coping techniques and tools to help them survive and function in the world without relying upon foreign substances. Completing a rehab program, whether it be an in-patient or out-patient program is commendable. There are certain aspects of one’s treatment that an individual will need to continue to work on to maintain his or her sobriety, long after the initial treatment phase is completed.
Sober Living Facilities
Subsequent to attending a substance abuse treatment program, individuals are faced with several options. There are sober living residences that are available for individuals who feel they could benefit from an extra step before fully immersing themselves back into their independent lives. Sober living facilities offer varying levels of support for individuals who have recently completed a treatment program. Some facilities will require its residents to attend a number of support meetings weekly, or even daily. Some will require individuals to hold steady employment. Some will have curfews. Some will have many rules and some will have few. Regardless of the level of required involvement, there is one rule that is obligatory across the board, individuals who live in a sober living facility will all be required to remain sober. This simple layer of understanding can provide individuals with significant support, and possibly help to mitigate some temptations of relapse.
Struggling with substance abuse and/or addiction can become a very alienating and lonely endeavor. It is not uncommon for individuals to become estranged from family and/or friends before becoming sober. It can take time for family members and friends to embrace an individual after treatment. Though the process is transformative for the recovering individual, an immediate shift is not necessarily apparent to family members and friends. Substance abuse does not only affect the individual who is abusing the substance, but also has a great effect on his or her loved ones. The pain that is caused to one’s loved ones is often not immediately dissolved simply from the completion of one’s treatment program. The process of reintegrating oneself into his or her family and loved ones can often be a long and gradual process.
It is, however, important to have a community of support when emerging from a treatment program. Some individuals find Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) to be helpful gatherings for a myriad of reasons. One of them being that they remind people that they are not alone on their sober journey. Maintaining an active social life can also be helpful. It is normal for individuals who abuse substances to be friends with other people who abuse drugs and/or alcohol. After treatment, it is essential to make new friends and/or spend time with old friends that don’t abuse drugs, and to surround oneself with sober individuals.
Reintegrating into society can be scary and overwhelming. Individuals must remember to be mindful and remain in the present. Having some sort of de-stressing tool or technique at one’s disposal is essential. Many individuals who have gone through treatment relied on drugs and/or alcohol as a solution to deal with stress. These new techniques or tools could, for example, be a certain breathing exercise, a phrase or mantra, or even a fidget spinner. One benefit of treatment is that there are a myriad of tools and techniques taught. Each individual will have a unique way to deal with outside stressors, and those methods must constantly remain at the forefront on an individual’s mind.
Self-care is of utmost importance after treatment. Upholding a healthy diet, committing to a regular exercise regimen and getting sufficient sleep are three somewhat simple things to remember when thinking about one’s basic self-care needs. Individuals after treatment should remember to be kind to oneself and practice patience. There are several steps in the treatment of substance abuse, and one could argue that one’s treatment is continuous and never-ending.