Leaving treatment can be a scary prospect - you’re moving from a safe space back into the big wide world to begin the rest of your life and you’ll be practicing the new skills you’ve learned in real life. While this can be anxiety-inducing, having a solid plan of what you’re going to do and how you’re going to keep safe will help steady your nerves and put you in a good position to move forward in your recovery with confidence.
1. Going Home After Rehab
Many people go straight home after graduating from a drug or alcohol treatment program and this choice comes with some distinct pros and cons that can influence your success in sober life. Let’s talk about what that means:
- Return is sweet - For one thing, we tend to miss home. The image of returning home to their loved ones and friends as a new healthier person is something that motivates many people to commit fully to their recovery.
- Close community support - Feeling heard and understood is a key part of recovery. Our friends and family are back home, and as people you already love and trust, you might find it easier to open up to them. Feeling heard and understood is a key part of recovery.
- Environmental risks - Going back to your original area means connection to your past - old acquaintances you used to use with, dealers, and settings might be tempting to return to, especially if we’re struggling to make new friends.
- Potential triggers - Early in recovery, people may be unaware of the triggers that can potentially sabotage your efforts to stay sober. Even if your family or roommates are very supportive, you’ll need to consider any unique personal situations that might come up for you when moving straight home.
- Overwhelm - Maintaining sobriety while adjusting back to work, friends, home life, and the simple responsibilities of living independently again can be difficult to cope with all at once.
2. Sober Living
Sober living homes are boarding houses available in most cities, designed to help people adjust to life as they leave rehab. They help with maintaining sobriety by offering substance-free environments, counseling, and a community of people in recovery.
- Personal freedom - Inpatient centers expect residents to stay on the facility campus, unplugged, and to follow scheduling. Re-entering the outside world after this self-contained environment can be a shock. Sober living facilities often have ground rules for everyone’s safety such as curfew and drug testing, but you can come and go freely and spend the day how you want.
- Responsibility - Freedom’s less beloved twin. Suddenly having a full serving of responsibilities dropped on your plate post-rehab can be overwhelming, but sober living houses give you space to acclimatize. That said, you’ll still be responsible for household cleaning, chores, shopping, cooking, and paying rent.
- Addiction support - Your housemates are already a social community of people who know what recovery is like. These houses actively facilitate open communication and shared support that you can count on.
- Job support - A sober living house’s mission is to help its residents re-integrate and graduate to everyday life. Some of them expect their residents to have an income to enroll, while others will help you out with job hunting advice and direct support. Many will also support you with skills development to help you build your resume.
- Routine building - The transition home is an important one for setting the groundwork of aftercare. Most sober homes expect their residents to be attending community-based recovery options such as AA or NA. Some also have in-house counselors that will help you follow through and build recovery into your independent life.
- Prohibitive costs - For one thing, while most are priced to be affordable, sober living facilities are housing and will charge rent. You will have to pay for this in addition to bills and groceries.
- Finding the right one - You also must consider that if you live in a rural area or smaller town, you might not be able to find one near enough to home for your needs - it might also involve a job change. It’s a case of finding what works for you - some people like remaining connected to their usual area, and some people appreciate a clean break.
Wherever you choose to go, remember transitioning out of inpatient care is still a potentially vulnerable time. Making sure you’re moving to an environment that is as stress-free and compassionate as possible gives you the best chance of maintaining abstinence.
Follow through on aftercare, and keep away from triggers while you learn to adapt your skills to daily life. More than anything, keep a positive attitude and remember all the good things the future holds. Stepping back into the real world is an exciting time: now you get to reap the rewards for all the effort you put into rehab and see what all the hard work was for.