Completing an inpatient program and rejoining the “real world” can be exhilarating until it's not. The newness of your recovery will eventually fade, and you might wonder, “Now what?” In your recovery, you may not always feel whole, but you will have the tools to manage feelings of discombobulation better.
During your recovery, you must practice the tools you learned in treatment and establish a new life for yourself outside of treatment. What does recovery outside of treatment look like for you? Finding the answer to this question starts by establishing your recovery goals.
Before you set recovery goals, you first need to know what you want from your recovery. Your goals might involve career growth, the completion of personal projects, or strengthening your relationships. If you struggle with this, you can work with a mental health professional to define what you want from your recovery.
Once you know what you want, work backward to find the goals and objectives you want to set for yourself. When setting your goals, you'll want to use the SMART method. This means creating goals and breaking them down into smaller objectives. These objectives should be specific to your wants or needs, measurable in achievement, reasonably attainable, relevant to your goals, and time-sensitive.
At the end of the SMART goal-making process, you should have a list of first-step objectives that feel achievable, manageable, and inspire confidence. Tracking your goals will help you note when an objective is or isn't working. It also allows you to re-evaluate your objectives when you get stuck instead of being overwhelmed with frustration. Setting SMART goals and objectives gives you a plan and an answer to the question, “What happens next?”
No matter how far you've come, how hard you've worked during treatment, or how much you plan, you will encounter physical and mental challenges during your recovery. However, emotional growth, personal effort, and planning will help you be more prepared when these challenges arise. Keep in mind that treatment does not end the hardships of recovery.
Throughout your recovery, you'll encounter periods of sadness, grief, stress, and anxiety. You may slip into old behavioral habits or thought patterns and need to rely on available resources to get on the right track again.
Gathering recovery resources will help you in times of hardship. During the recovery process, keep your expectations grounded in reality and remind yourself that you're trying your best. It's okay to slip up sometimes. Hardship and distress do not equate to recovery failure. It's okay to ask for help when you need it.
No one should go through recovery alone. A support network gives you a layer of safety nets if you fall off course during your recovery journey. Your support network should be filled with family, friends, and peers who are knowledgeable of your recovery journey and understand how to best comfort you in times of distress. The only way to make this type of connection is by keeping an open dialogue with loved ones. Keep them informed about your emotions, thoughts, and current state in your recovery.
During treatment, you probably made friends with peers in your program. Having people in your life who share similar experiences is an important aspect of recovery. Maintaining contact with people from your treatment programs will expand your support network, give you a sense of belonging, and keep you connected to the recovery community.
Recovery isn't just about maintaining your sobriety; it's about rebuilding your life. Some of the communities you surrounded yourself with in your past may have contributed to your substance abuse. These communities could be toxic to your mental health. You may realize that there are some people and communities you need to cut out of your life. Once you let go of toxicity from your past, you'll have a void to fill. In recovery, you'll fill this void with positive people and communities.
You can connect with others through communities of your interest. This could mean joining a hiking club, attending local sporting events, or taking a writing class. Whatever brings you joy, you can find a community of people who will share that joy with you. Some types of communities might be better found online, while others you may be able to find within your local community. Having a community will give you a sense of belonging and purpose.
The next step after inpatient treatment doesn't have to be total independence. Aftercare treatment options are less intensive but give you a sense of structure and professionals and peers to lean on. These treatment options include outpatient programs and sober living.
There are many different types of outpatient treatments. Some forms of outpatient treatment are more intensive than others. You can find outpatient programs with group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and any other types of therapy you might've been exposed to during inpatient treatment. Outpatient therapists can guide you on your emotional journey, check in on you multiple times a week, and be there for you in cases of emotional crisis.
If you crave structure post-treatment, a sober living facility might be the next step in your recovery. Sober living homes are places for people in recovery to stay post-treatment. At a sober living home, you will build community with your roommates and peers, learn how to manage responsibilities, and have mental health services close by when you need them.
You won't always be able to feel whole during your recovery journey. You will experience times of feeling whole and times of complete discombobulation, but the coping techniques you learned during treatment will help you navigate times of hardship. Pathways Recovery Center can prepare you for your recovery journey by offering the tools and resources you need to succeed. We provide aftercare programs such as outpatient programs and alumni services. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call Pathways Recovery Center at (888) 771-0966 to learn how we can meet you where you are in recovery and give you the skills you need for continued success post-treatment.