Addiction can be likened to a hell, and the recovery period following our exit from that dark place can be considered an oasis. Once the throes of kicking the habit have been endured, and we have gained some tools for retaining our footing on higher ground, we often enjoy a honeymoon of peace and hope that has been long lacking in our lives. This joy and peace can be disturbed by considerations of how we are going to transition back into our daily lives, following our exit from a treatment program.
For those who have enjoyed the safe haven of a substance abuse treatment program, there may be anxiety about how life after leaving the facility will progress. Many who leave a life of substance abuse are going to return to a life where former friends, activities, and interests have disappeared. Others are bravely returning to situations which are less than ideal, and are needing to be equipped with strategies for staying on their higher path. The following are some tips toward ensuring your continued success in recovery.
Establish Your Maintenance Plans
As you transition into your new life, make sure that you have plans in place to continue to support your recovery. For many, the maintenance phase of recovery is considered to be a lifelong stage, requiring that plans always be ready at hand, in the case that the temptation to go back to using the substance becomes too strong to dismiss. Options for continuing this self care include joining support groups, or participating in individual therapy.
Most cities have local chapters of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous groups, and a list of their meeting times and locations can be found online. There are also many programs which offer free or low cost, one-on-one, substance abuse counseling. The support gained by meeting with a qualified professional on an outpatient, occasional, basis can be a valuable commodity while you work toward building your new life. Finally, there is often opportunity to continue to interact with the support persons you met while in the action stages of your recovery process. No matter if you are living in a sober living community or not, the friendships formed during this stage can last a lifetime, and provide you with ongoing support in times of need.
Find – And Do – What You Love
When we are stuck in our addictions, the substance takes center stage. The drugs and alcohol have a way of creeping in slowly, and then taking over as our main focus and pastime. Not only does it demand that we spend our time and energy on finding ways to use it, it simultaneously decreases our enjoyment for other things. Once we are rid of these sabotaging effects of the substances, it is time to rediscover our true passions.
We may not be able to go to our dream jobs every day, but we can still find time to pursue our favorite passions as a hobby. When we find – and practice – what it is that we are most passionate about, not only do we enjoy a sense of fulfillment from our activity, but we also put ourselves in a position to meet others who share our interests. You can conduct an internet search for local programs and clubs
which focus on your passions, and can even join international societies as a way of sharing your interests with others.
If the desire is to actually make money off of doing what you love, there is always the option of returning to school for some retraining and certification. It has been said that, “if you do what you love, you never work a day in your life,” and schooling is the route that many take in order to make this concept a reality. The federal government will often subsidize this further education, through providing FAFSA grants and student loans. There is no need to worry about your age when considering a return to school, either. The average age of full-time college students has been steadily increasing, with the amount of students being over the age of 25 expected to increase by 50% over prior decades.
Gather a New Social Network
Think about how, while in addiction, it was always possible to find others who were in that same, low, state. This phenomenon works in the opposite way, as well. As we continue in our own successes, we will be heading along a path of attracting other, successful, people. Using your new tools and skills of right thinking and discernment, you will be better able to chose your friends more wisely.
The key to forming lasting, true, friendships is to find – and be – our true selves. When we are in a state of operating at our best, we will naturally attract others near our same stages of development. This idea is where the insightful phrase, “water seeks its own level,” comes in.
Once we have crafted our life in a way that ensures that we are secure in our recovery, many former addicts will choose to find ways to use their knowledge and experiences to help others. Experience is often considered the best teacher, and those who have traversed the depths of darkness that addictions pull us into – and have survived – are often the best equipped to assist others in climbing out of that pit. The beauty in helping others is that everyone involved will benefit.
One of the best ways that we can show our gratitude toward others who have been there to assist us is by becoming that helping person, ourselves. There are many ways that this can be accomplished, and it is possible to find your own, customized, niche. If you are interested in public speaking, you can find opportunities to share your experiences with others by offering to speak at substance abuse meetings; at prisons; or during college courses for substance abuse counselors. If you are a writer, there are opportunities to publish articles, booklets, and blogs about what what you have learned. If you have a love for working with children, many programs for at-risk youth allow for volunteering as a mentor.