Congratulations! You successfully completed a drug rehabilitation program and now you are headed home. After years of battling an addiction you did it! You got clean and sober, and you feel so much better already. Now it’s time to reintegrate back into everyday society and your normal life, and that part should be easy, right? Wrong!
I have some bad news for you – although quitting and detoxing from your drug of choice was surely extremely difficult, that wasn’t even the hardest part. The most challenging part of recovery lies immediately ahead of you. For months, years, or even decades, your “normal, everyday life” was a certain way. Now, it will be entirely different in pretty much all ways. You need to be ready for all of these changes, and you need to know for sure that this won’t be easy at all. Unfortunately, statistics show that 85% of individuals relapse and return to drug use within the year following treatment, and researches estimate that more than 2/3 of individuals in recovery relapse within just weeks or months of beginning addiction treatment.
But don’t worry! Even though relapse does happen to many, it doesn’t need to be the end of your recovery – you can view it as just a bump in the road and get right back on that horse again. And, with the right strategies and support, it may be possible to avoid relapse altogether, anyway, if you’re lucky. Plans can be made to help avoid triggers and stay sober. Relationships can be rebuilt. New hobbies can be discovered to fill your time and inspire you. You can go back to work and go back to being productive. Your physical, mental, and emotional selves can all continue to recover and improve. It all simply comes down to knowing what to expect and having a plan for each area of your life. Good luck!
Getting back to daily life in general may be more difficult than you might imagine. After all, a day is a day, isn’t it? Not really. Before you got clean and sober, a large portion of your day was likely dedicated to thinking about drugs or drinking, getting drugs or alcohol, consuming drugs or alcohol, and being intoxicated. Now you will have a great deal more free time, and you will have to be careful to fill that time with more positive and healthy activities now. To ensure that this happens, perhaps consider creating a schedule of your free time. This may seem overly regimented at first, but it will help! Make a list of things you want to include in your days, and then make time slots for each. Be sure to list things like eating, sleeping, exercising, commuting, participating in hobbies, attending support groups, and spending time with friends and family. Organizing these things into a schedule, and then sticking to that schedule, will help to keep you on task with your recovery, and will also remind you to get in the groove of physically and socially healthy habits as well.
Also, make sure that recovery is a part of your day – every single day. Immediately after leaving rehab, you should plan to attend a support group and speak to your sponsor daily. Over time, this frequency may decrease, but initially this quantity and level of support is vital. Many people newly on the recovery path even go to several meetings per day – and that’s great! There’s really no such thing as TOO MUCH support, so go ahead and get all the help you need.
Many things will challenge you in your new, clean and sober life, and unfortunately, for many people newly in recovery, those challenges can quickly lead to relapse. To help protect yourself from relapse, look out for the Big Four of triggers – also known as HALT. This simple acronym reminds people in recovery to avoid becoming hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and while that is probably easier said than done, there are certainly precautions that can be taken to avoid all four – so be sure to take those precautions whenever possible.
Getting Back to Work
Certainly you’ll like to get back to work as soon as possible, but there are many pitfalls to be aware of when doing so. If you are someone who enjoys your work, thrives productivity, and feels like your presence at your workplace is needed for things to run smoothly, it was probably hard for you to be away while you attended an inpatient drug rehabilitation program. Also, you may be returning to numerous curious or downright nosy folks who want to know where you went.
First of all, you don’t have to tell anyone anything. A simple response, such as “I took a leave of absence for health reasons,” should be enough to get people off your back. It’s truthful, but it also indicates you would like to keep the details private, and honestly, anyone who continues to pry after that is just plain rude.
Although you don’t need to tell your co-workers anything if you don’t want to, it would probably be helpful to tell your supervisor or human resources department if you feel comfortable doing so. This will likely gain you a bit of leeway regarding workload during the first weeks back, and will also give you someone to turn to if you need to go attend a support group, call your sponsor, avoid an alcohol-filled holiday party, or even go back to rehab sometime down the road.
Regarding your actual workload, if possible, don’t dive back in completely right away, and don’t get in too deep too quickly. In 2012, 65% of Americans cited work as a top source of stress in the American Psychological Associations (APA) annual Stress in America Survey. Stressful jobs can very quickly put you right back where you started, and busy days can be triggers more than you may think. Look out for the desire to have “just one” drink with colleagues after work – before you know it, you may quickly find yourself in active addiction once again.
Difficulty SleepingOne real problem you may encounter after rehab is difficulty sleeping. This happens to many people, especially the first month after discharge. Post-rehab insomnia happens for many reasons. First of all, while you were an active drug or alcohol abuser, chances are your drug of choice helped you sleep long and hard any time you wanted to, and now that it’s out of the equation, you may suffer some insomnia. Furthermore, now that you are clean and sober, you probably have a lot to think about as you are trying to fall asleep, including past regrets, present responsibilities and stressors, and future hopes and dreams.
Not getting enough sleep can really threaten your sobriety, because being tired is a trigger and can lead you potentially making bad choices. To keep that from happening, if you are having trouble sleeping, take action! The more active you are during the day, the better sleep you will get, so try to incorporate some more exercise during your daily routines. If you can’t fall asleep at night, don’t just lie there – get up and read or listen to music until you feel tired, then try again. Sipping warm beverages often helps, too. And, if you are feeling weak in your resolve to stay clean and sober, call your sponsor. Don’t worry about waking him or her up – that’s what sponsors are for, after all!
If none of these things help you to sleep, it may be time to seek professional help. There are a variety of ways to ensure a good night’s sleep, and not all involve drugs, so visit a doctor today if you find you simply cannot sleep after getting clean and sober.
Your relationships will be quite different when you get out of rehab as well. First of all, you unfortunately cannot go back to hanging out with the same people you spent time with when you were using. Certainly, you care about those people, but now is the time where you have to put yourself first. If you spend time with those people, you will go right back to your old bad habits, and that’s the last thing you want to do. Instead, consider yourself a role model for them. They may be mad that you ditched them at first, but hopefully they will come to see you as someone who has managed to turn his or her life around, and maybe they will come to you for advice on how to follow in your footsteps.
Also, be prepared for some people to ditch you, as well. Maybe you never partied with Elaine from the gym, but she may start avoiding you when she finds out you quit drinking. Some people are uncomfortable with others’ sobriety, either because they don’t know how to handle it, or because it shines a light on their own emerging problem. Certainly don’t let this keep you from telling people abut your new and major life development, but try to be sensitive to others’ feelings, be as honest and straightforward as you can, and do be prepared for others to be uncomfortable in some cases, even though that may seem odd to you.
Furthermore, you may have burned some bridges while you were in active addiction, and they may need some rebuilding. People who tried to help you may have become sick and tired of your antics and inability to chance and may have written you off – and rightly so. You will have to apologize to many people. Unfortunately, when you first approach them, they may not even believe you are actually clean and sober, and even if they do believe you, they may not have much hope for this new you staying that way very long into the future. With people like these, you simply need to apologize sincerely, and then wait and hope for the best. Be patient. Although they may continue to avoid you at first, if they see you continuing to do well, as time goes by they will likely come back to you. Life is long, people change, and most people don’t stay mad forever.
With that said, don’t be afraid to talk about your addiction, rehabilitation, and recovery with people close to you. There is no doubt that they will be proud of you. And further, all of this was a huge part of your life and is and will continue to be a giant part of who you are and who you are becoming. Talking about your recovery with others helps to solidify it in your mind and in theirs. Discussing it will make you stronger and will hopefully encourage others to be there for you to offer the support you need.
Unfortunately, many of your loved ones who do love and support you may quickly tire of hearing about your sobriety, so be aware and prepared for that too. Thankfully, that’s what support groups are for! Even though your best friend or girlfriend or mother or brother may completely be in support of your recovery – and even heavily encouraged its beginnings – they may not want to hear about it all the time and they may not be able to directly relate. Your friends in your support group though, and your sponsor as well, have all been there, done that, and will likely be able to offer more consistent and relatable support as a result.
Speaking of friends, and bringing this relationships section full circle, in general, you will benefit greatly from seeking out new friendships during this time. As mentioned in the beginning of this section, you will need to cut ties with some of your old friends, and other old friends of yours may decide to cut ties with you. Now that your interests include things other than when to have the next drink or how to get the next fix, it’s time for you to seek a new crowd that also isn’t concerned with those things. You can make new friends in support groups, as mentioned above, but there are lots of places to find new people to hang out with. Search sites like Meetup.com for people with similar interests and start attending events. Begin volunteering with an organization that you support and seek out new folks there. Ask your friends and family if they know people they think you might like to meet and ask for an introduction. There’s a lot of ways to develop new friendships after getting clean and sober – you just have to put yourself out there!
One Day At a Time
Although you will face many challenges on your re-entry into life after leaving an inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, the new and confident You can succeed. The bottom line is that the old saying “one day at a time” is correct. You need to look at the days and weeks and months ahead of you in manageable chunks, conquer them, and as you progress, the time ahead of you won’t seem so insurmountable. Continue to go to your support groups and reach out for more help and support when you need it. Be proud of yourself, but don’t let yourself get overconfident, either. Move forward on your path and your new life, and most importantly – don’t let yourself return to old habits. A lot of things have changed since you decided to enter rehab, but you are strong and powerful and you can handle it all. Good luck!
At Clear Sky Recovery, we want to help you to take the first steps towards your new life. We believe that an ibogaine detox at our facility in Cancun, Mexico can be the most important first step you can take. Our medical staff has decades of experience administering ibogaine to patients suffering from addiction just like you. The “addiction interruption” aspect of ibogaine has been effective for so many. Please call us today; we are standing by to answer your questions and we look forward to meeting you soon!
Dr. Sola is one of the world’s leading experts in medically-based ibogaine treatment; he has more clinical experience with safe and effective ibogaine administration than any other M.D. in the world today.