Even entering addiction treatment can be a major accomplishment for anyone who has struggled with substance abuse. Getting past the denial and putting yourself in a position of facing your illness can be painful and challenging. However, finally leaving rehab is another step in recovery that can be equally intimidating for addicts.
People may feel safe in their recovery program because it is a place where they do not have to deal with temptation and they have constant support from staff and peers. Treatment can be the training ground for becoming sober but often the hardest decisions to stay abstinent happen during your daily life at home. Completing rehab and transitioning to living at home can be a very vulnerable time for people.
It is common for people in treatment to dread going back home because they know how fragile they will feel when they are back in a normal environment. They may fear the possibility of relapse or dealing with people they used to know who still drink or use drugs. Patients who feel fearful of leaving rehab may need extra help from aftercare programs so that they learn to cope with life outside of treatment.
Transitioning Out of Treatment
Leaving rehab represents a major shift in a person’s life. They have been in a safe environment for several months where they had access to a therapist and their whole day is structured and planned. They build trust and close connections with the staff and other patients in treatment and begin to feel at home there.
When a patient completes rehab and returns home they might have to lose many of these aspects of recovery. They will not have a set schedule anymore that revolves around sobriety and healing from addiction. They might not have the same kind of positive environment that helps them feel supported and more confident.
Living at home could mean being faced with a stressful job, difficult relationships and worstly, having open access to alcohol or drugs. You are no longer in a sober place and you may even have friends or family members who still drink and don’t understand you decision to quit. All of these issues can take their toll on someone who is already in a vulnerable state.
Leaving treatment means leaving the comforting, empathetic and understanding surroundings you are provided with in rehabilitation. Real life can be harsh and people may not be as compassionate outside of treatment. Learning to deal with life outside of rehab can take a lot of time.
Finding Ways to Cope
Fortunately there are many resources available for addicts that can help them handle the difficult transition of leaving rehab. Aftercare program provide former patients some of the structure and support that they had in treatment but they will have access to it while living on their own. These programs may including relapse prevention which is crucial in the first few months after completing treatment.
One of the most important things to focus on after leaving rehab is learning how to cope with triggers that come in day to day life and interactions. They may not even realize the things that trigger them when they first come home but they will start to experience it more often. Learning to recognize triggers, avoid them when necessary and develop skills for dealing with them is what needs to take place in order to prevent relapse.
Aftercare programs can help guide former patients so that they have a better understanding of how to handle triggers. There may be many specific experiences, feelings or even people that become a trigger. Temptation is truly around every corner in life outside of rehab and having a program to help you through difficult moments can be life-saving.
Co-workers or friends may invite you to get a drink after work, you might have to attend parties or social events where alcohol is involved or you may simply run into an old drinking buddy or dealer. These kinds of situations may make you feel vulnerable and tempted to start using again. If you have strategies in place to help you cope with any situation then you can get through it without having a relapse.
Most treatment centers offer some type of aftercare program to help people deal with their fear about leaving rehab. If you are concerned about your ability to remain sober it may be helpful to continue with therapy or keep attending 12 step meetings as often as you can. Even though it can be intimidating to leave rehab there are plenty of options available to help you stay on track.
If you are currently attending treatment or are looking to enroll, ask about your facility’s aftercare options and resources to help patients after they complete treatment and move back home.