Everyone who is in treatment faces the prospect of transitioning to the “real world.” Some face it with an “Okay, I’ve got this now” attitude, and others with an “Oh no… What’s next?” attitude. Each approach seems very different. One needs to dig deeper, to find what goes into the patient’s mindset.
The critical key to this difference is one simple four letter word: Plan. Without a clear, concrete, and specific plan for after-care, the patient is more likely to fall into relapse. After all, 30-90 days in an inpatient treatment facility cannot prepare a patient for what comes next. An inpatient treatment facility provides many safeguards for the fragile individual: the provide a sober, safe environment, with a great deal of scheduling and structure. Getting out and returning to the same environment as before you went in, the same friends, the same living arrangement, the same everything, will likely expose the patient to one or more of the same triggers that pushed him or her through the looking glass to begin with.
So what does a plan look like and how is it created?
It begins, often, with the help of a counselor in the treatment facility. With the counselor, who you presumably trust, you will consider what your priorities are.
What are your priorities? First, you must be determined to continue your sobriety. Without that, not much else matters. Moreover, without maintaining your sobriety, the rest of your plan probably won’t matter.
What goes into keeping your sobriety? At a minimum, you must go to meetings and have a sponsor. Daily meetings, where you discuss the 12-step process, read from the Big Book, may have a speaker or a discussion, and say the Serenity Prayer, are recommended for at least 90 days. A sponsor is someone you choose, who has been sober longer than you, someone you can rely on, and someone who can inspire you. There are many more characteristics that you will have to sort through to settle on someone who can be your sponsor. You may also wish to include a therapist who can help you with your recovery process, from setting goals to examining your triggers to aiding in the 12-step process to assisting you in rebuilding damaged relationships.
In addition to the above, choice of residence is extremely important. Your inpatient program can assist you in finding an affordable sober living home. A sober living home is not a long-term situation. It is a temporary solution as you emerge from the inpatient environment. The sober living facility provides a positive group recovery program, a substance free place where you can live with others who are roughly in the same position in their recovery as you are. They foster your individual recovery plan. Sober living will allow you to establish new rules for your life, and to live by those rules to see how they work.
When you are released from inpatient treatment, you may think you’re ready to face the world and all it has to throw at you. The truth is that you’re just starting on your journey that, hopefully, will be a long, healthy, happy and sober one.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.