As our substance use journey has come to an end, and our treatment journey is beginning, we might look ahead and think about our future. How will I step back into my life again?
How will I be able to survive on my own without using substances? How do I repair the relationships in my life? How will I manage work and other things I need to do? How can I navigate life after treatment?
Upon completing treatment, many people feel empowered. Mentally and physically, we should feel much better than when we entered treatment. Sometimes, though, we can feel a little raw.
Thinking about jumping back into our lives without full-time support, and thinking about how our lives were before treatment, it can be challenging to visualize how everything is going to work.
The confidence we gain in treatment by learning new ways of thinking and living may ebb a bit with overwhelming thoughts of the changes we have made and the changes we will still need to make in our recovery. These thoughts are fair.
Changing our lives does not happen overnight; it is a process. We have achieved so much already by leaving our substances behind.
Now we are achieving tremendous healing and personal growth in treatment. It is okay to feel a little nervous about the next big step.
Returning to our lives is a massive step in our recovery process. For some, we are attempting to step back into the world we left, with the same family and living situations, same job, etc.
Others, for one reason or another, may be starting all over. There are so many different scenarios in between.
Our most important concern is that we feel safe and supported in our living environment. We need to feel confident that the temptations to use substances are not there so that we are aiming for success in our recovery from day one.
This may mean that we may need to live elsewhere. In fact, people often live in transitional living situations immediately after treatment, where there is support for substance abstinence.
Whatever going home means for each of us, we can navigate our living situation with confidence, while advocating for our needs. We can ask for the support of spouses and partners, roommates, and even children to help us be our best.
This may be tough, and we need to be willing to make changes, either temporarily or permanently. But we are now our own best advocate. In asking for what we need, we are showing ourselves our commitment to our recovery and our lives.
Back to Work
Work situations are different for everyone. Even if we were lucky enough that our substance use did not impact our work much, we have been in treatment and on a leave of absence for some time.
Despite confidentiality laws, there will be questions from coworkers, and we will have to get back up to speed, too. We need to prepare ourselves for what we are comfortable talking about.
Consider discussing in therapy before leaving treatment.
Others will be starting over, finding new work, and adjusting to an entirely new environment. This process can be complicated at any point in our lives, and post-treatment does not change that.
However, there is an advantage to starting over in a career move at a point when we are our most authentic selves. So, whatever our career situation is, we can take advantage of being truly empowered.
Coming back to relationships can be anything from a joyous reunion to surveying a battlefield after the war. No matter where we left our relationships, things are changed.
We are changed. We will need to be gentle with ourselves and those we love to rebuild trust.
We can use our new communication skills as well as all of the therapeutic tools we have to stay present, control our emotions, and communicate effectively. The people in our lives may not have these same skills, so we can offer empathy and patience while they learn that we are still the essence of who we were before.
We are even more able and committed to loving them than before, and that we are going to be able to be here for them now. This takes time and patience from all parties.
However, it is not impossible to mend relationships, just like it takes time and patience to heal ourselves.
Master of My Own Destiny
How can we navigate life after treatment? One step at a time. Yes, there are some massive steps involved in the process.
Returning to our life does not mean that we will step back into work and relationships as they were before and live happily ever after. Returning home means finding our place in life, and whether or not that involves the same people and places.
We have been given the tools to navigate our own lives. We have more strength than we know. We are in charge of our emotions, our actions, and our self-belief. We are the masters of our destiny.
AToN is Aid to Navigation. We can help you find the tools to navigate your life. Call AToN Center at (888) 535-1516 now to learn how to navigate the rest of your life.