For some people, the moment of leaving residential treatment for a substance use disorder and returning to the “real world” can be a daunting, anxiety-inducing experience.
After all, while in treatment you have worked hard to regain your sobriety in an environment that offers support (and does not offer drugs or alcohol). As you think about starting your recovery journey, you may be all too aware of the stresses and temptations that await you, and you may be worried that you simply will not be able to cope with it all.
You do not want to relapse, of course, but you might feel as though it is inevitable. The pressures of your day-to-day life might seem impossible to manage effectively.
We get it—and we have some ideas that might help you take those first steps of your recovery journey with more confidence in your ability to stay sober.
Facing Your Fear—and the Facts—of Relapse
There’s a good chance that your return to sobriety has been a long time coming. Maybe you resisted the notion that you had a problem for a while. Maybe you were convinced you could give up drugs or alcohol on your own only to find that it was more difficult than you imagined. Maybe you dragged your feet when it came to getting help because you were embarrassed or because you could not quite figure out how to put your life on pause to make space for treatment.
In any event, you eventually sought out the help you needed and made it through detoxification and rehabilitation. It was not easy, and so your trepidation around the dangers of relapse is wholly understandable.
It is also reasonably well founded. Many people in recovery do, in fact, relapse in the early days of attempting to stay sober out in the real world. Given that reality, we would suggest that the best way to manage your fear of relapse is to reframe how you think about it.
The key to managing your fear is to remind yourself that a relapse is not the end of your recovery journey. A relapse is a setback, but it is not a final verdict on your ability to achieve lasting sobriety. If you experience a relapse, it is essential to return to treatment to reset and try again.
None of this is to say you should not do everything possible to avoid a relapse, but it is to say that the stakes are not so high that your future sobriety depends on never struggling. Keeping that in mind can reduce the anxiety you feel—and reduce the likelihood that you will turn back to drugs and alcohol precisely because you feel anxious about possibly turning back to drugs or alcohol.
You Can Count on a Continuum of Care
When you think about treatment, you probably think mostly about detox and rehab. But there is an important third component that we call the continuum of care. The continuum of care is a promise that you will still have access to support and resources even after your time in residential treatment comes to an end.
Knowing that you have that ongoing encouragement available can be a great comfort, particularly as you start to build additional support systems that will serve you well going forward.
Those support systems could take a number of forms. We’d recommend ongoing participation in a 12-Step or other recovery program. We’d encourage you to strengthen your network of support friends and family who will always support your sobriety (and we encourage you to cut ties with anyone who might tempt you to use drugs or alcohol or who tends to be a toxic presence in your life). And we’d encourage you to create routines around healthy eating, restful sleep, regular exercise, and more.
Long and short: A continuum of care serves as a foundation as you build up structures of support that make it more likely you will hold on to your sobriety over time.
Let’s Get Real: French Creek Recovery Center Can Help
Sometimes—even (or especially) when we don’t want to—we have to face up to reality. If your reality is defined by a substance use disorder, the time to get help is right away. The entire staff of French Creek Recovery Center in Meadville, PA, is devoted to helping you get sober and then to providing the resources and support you need to stay sober. Are you really struggling? We can really help.