Addiction Recovery: An Ongoing Process
When it comes to getting sober, I will be the first to admit, I was hoping it was an immediate fix and for a while I let my imagination get the best of me, so I could keep on believing just that. However, this is the farthest thing from the truth. Getting sober means work. Actually, it means a lot of hard work, in literally every single area of your life.
It wasn’t until after completing my program that I realized just how much work laid ahead of me. Seriously, I was just in awe and scared and nervous and everything in between.
And, some may sit here and wonder why one would feel all these mixed emotions after having just completed a drug rehabilitation program successfully, right? Well in all actuality, when you get sober, you have this fragile new life to care for and nurture to a strong-willed, determined, persevering and flourishing individual.
Sure, while you are in treatment, you learn very, very valuable skills that will help propel you to your future goals. However, many of the real tests do not occur until long after leaving your safe and secure residential treatment program.
Think about it for a minute, prior to leaving treatment, you haven’t had to deal with:
- old friends,
- disturbing phone calls,
- family members,
- obtaining employment,
- paying past debts (monetarily, to society and more)
- or anything else in the outside world.
And, trust me, all of the things above and more are waiting to tempt you, deter you and bring you back down to where you once were in your addiction.
Of course, you handled many things during your treatment program and communicated with the positive influences in your life, such as parents and loved ones. But, you were able to go discuss the issues or problems that arise during those phone calls or meetings with someone at the treatment center. Once you leave, you won’t always have this.
Being Prepared to Leave Your Treatment Program
One of the most important steps a treatment program can make is ensuring those who complete their program leave with a clear plan of action on how to remain sober and handle any obstacles that may arise.
Prior to leaving the Narconon program, you meet with an aftercare counselor, who assists you in creating a detailed plan of action for when you return home. This allows you to plan ahead for what lies beyond the doors of treatment. During your meeting, you discuss nearly everything imaginable. To give you a short list, you can expect to go over some of the following:
- How you are going to effectively communicate with family and loved ones
- How and where you are going to gain employment
- How and where you plan on living after treatment
- What environmental, physical and emotional triggers could you expect to face at home
- How do you plan on handling those triggers without using drugs
- Who you intend on associating with upon returning home
- How you can stay away from negative influences that only aided in your addiction
Of course, you will go over much more than this and in great detail. By the end of your sessions with the aftercare counselor, you’ll have a clear plan for the next month or two. Even more so, you will have a clear set of actions on how to effectively handle any triggers that arise and frequent phone check-ins from your counselor via telephone.
Overcoming Obstacles After Treatment
After my sessions with aftercare and having completed all of the plans, I was fairly confident I knew what I was going to do and that I could be successful at it. However, obstacles always arise. The thing to remember is, it only matters how you react to these obstacles.
In my own life, I was faced with a multitude of obstacles, which I had to find a way to overcome without using drugs. One that truly sticks with me occurred just over a year after completing my program. An old friend had called and was in town, so they wanted to catch up. Although, I didn’t know what was waiting for me when I arrived.
Sure, we caught up, laughed and joked around when I first arrived. But, after awhile, she seemed to get antsy and glare over at her boyfriend like he was supposed to know what it meant (and he did). What they didn’t know was, I knew too. They needed a fix. A fix of heroin, that is.
As she looked over at me, I just shook my head and couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. It was the first time I had been around drugs since I was in active addiction. My heart was racing and I just wasn’t quite sure what to do. I sat there quietly and contemplated asking for some, but quickly pushed that thought out of my head.
Within just a few moments, I realized exactly what had to be done. I had to leave—immediately. And, I did. Of course, I was met with an “oh please, we can go to the bathroom” response, but that just wasn’t going to suffice for me. I gathered my things, got in my car and headed home as quickly as I could.
In that moment, I was literally given a life or death choice. I had to utilize the skills taught, as well as the action plans created in the aftercare program at Narconon to make the right decision. Ultimately, choosing life.
Making the Decision to Leave
So, was this an easy decision? Heck no! But, it’s a decision that you and I need to be ready to make at any given moment. Yes at any given moment, because you truly never know who could be using drugs until you see the signs right in front of your face.
I must say, I was surprised and hurt to find my good friend relapsed on drugs. I wanted to help, but at the same time knew me staying only meant more trouble would occur and it wouldn’t be good. Through the Narconon aftercare program though, I was able to determine that it was a negative situation to be in, as well as figure out a way to quickly get out of the situation.
On my way back home that night, I just kept playing the night in my head over and over again. I couldn’t believe I did it; I left and didn’t get high. I knew my aftercare counselor had said I would encounter people using drugs, but I just always thought I was smart enough to realize before putting myself in that situation. Obviously, I wasn’t.
Learning From The Obstacles
With the biggest decision of my recovery made, I thought I was on a roll. I mean, I did the ultimate thing—turn down drugs. And, I was (kind of). Over the next two years, I continued to excel, but not with my fair amount of obstacles. Sure, I had my success. I obtained my Associate’s Degree, started my own business, even got politically involved and more.
In all reality though, it was the failures, rejection, and disappointments over the last few years that have taught me the most. I’ve lost countless friends to addiction, lost client contracts and failed classes, as well as many other trials and tribulations. Through these though, I have learned how to move forward with life positively even when negative things occur without drugs.
And, this is recovery—learning to keep pushing forward even when everything seems to be falling down around you.
By learning how to operate in the various conditions of life through the Narconon program, I have been able to continually move myself forward. Even if it’s only baby steps at times, in the end, you can always reach your goals. Just set your mind to it, work hard and follow the steps taught to you within the program to succeed.