There are many challenges associated with addiction recovery, but perhaps the largest comes when a person finishes the bulk of their inpatient treatment and has to re-adjust to society as they start taking on responsibilities again. You’ll likely be experiencing things differently or have different priorities now, compared to before you began seeking treatment for your addiction. This amount of change can be difficult when the outside world remains the same as it was before you left.
This is a common and shared experience for most recovering addicts. It’s normal to feel fear and the inability to communicate your experiences, even with your closest friends and family. How can you better adjust to outside life after completing a rehab program?
Rebuilding Your Support System
Even when you’re in the early stages of addiction recovery, you’ll need to re-evaluate your social circles. For many addicts, friends and family groups are often listed as triggers. When you exit an addiction treatment community, maintaining sobriety is one of the most important parts of building a new, healthier lifestyle, and that can only be done if the things that caused you to use are out of your life.
This may mean creating some space between your friends and family members who use, which can be scary. You may be afraid of feeling alone during this vulnerable period in your recovery. That’s why support groups and 12-step programs exist, however. These communities give can you a network of people that share the experience of addiction recovery with you, and can offer lifelong support without causing you to be tempted to use drugs or alcohol.
As ASAM notes, 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can be incredibly effective at providing recovering addicts with a support system, but only if you fully commit to the program and the fellowship you’ll find within.
Other aftercare support systems exist in therapy groups, which may be part of outpatient programs at the facility where you received treatment or others in your area.
Communicating with Society
It can be difficult to find ways to communicate with those you spent the most time with before your addiction treatment, or explain your absence to friends and coworkers. Many addicts struggle with this, and it’s mostly caused by the stigma around drug addiction that is still present in society.
Remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation, but you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit that you sought help for addiction to drugs or alcohol. Addiction doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, class, or any other demographic divider.
It’s important to remember that your employer is breaking the law if they fire you for missing work due to rehab. Addiction is considered to be a protected disease under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and thus, absence from work to seek treatment is covered by the Families and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).