A fabulous guest post from Joy Anderson on what the hell happens when you get out of your 28-day rehab.
You’re Out Of Treatment. Now what??
What ARE the Options???
I wrote up this list and commentary from real life concerns during and after my stay in treatment – the topic was never really explored…enough.
So you’ve finished treatment. You completed your 28 days, the 90 days, maybe a whole year. So now what? Here are some questions to carefully consider and some insight in to how things really are.
Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
● Will you go “home”, to your family of origin or a marriage or other relationship?
● Would you stay in the area where you went to treatment?
● Do you want to live in sober housing, ½ way, ¾ way?
● Do you like communal living and can you abide by the rules?
● Could you handle living independently or with a sober roommate?
● Do you need a little more time in an environment with accountability and structure (UA’s, Curfews)
● Where are you in your your recovery?
● How stable are you?
● Do you want or require IOP services, therapy services?
● What sort of elements do you want in your new living environment?
● What are your resources – financial, transportation…?
● Do you have a pet?
● Do you have any health concerns?
● Do you want to be with people in recovery that are your same age?
Will you go “home”? To your family of origin?
Is a marriage or other relationship waiting for you to come home?
Is going home right out of treatment the best decision for your long term recovery goals? Lot’s of people struggle with this. Even though the pull of getting back to “normal life” whether with a spouse, kids, parents etc…this decision needs to be explored and a lot of times, despite that pull, the folks who make the decision to sort of extend their Intensive OutPatient Treatment have better success upon returning home.
Stress is the number one relapse trigger and people don’t realize that it takes months to adjust to life without drugs or alcohol as a crutch to deal with our upsets, anxieties and fears. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome can last for up to 18 months – in some cases longer. It’s best to position ourselves in the most structured, supportive environment possible. Play it safe in the beginning even if your partner or family doesn’t understand. They may send a message of struggle while you are away but while you are healing and changing, you need to stay put.It’s like trying to walk on a broken leg when the cast was just put on a week ago. You need to recover and it will benefit your loved ones as well as yourself in the long run. We have to start thinking in terms of short term sacrifice for long term success. They’ll thank you later, and they’ll be stronger for it too. Everybody wins.
Will you remain in the area you received treatment?
Lots of people will decide to stay in the area they got clean because that’s safe and familiar for them. They’ve created a circle involving sober peers, sponsor, mentor, life coach – what have you, meetings, home group, friends hopefully some exercise and of course FUN and social time . It’s a delicate balance, especially in the first year, so maintaining this combination of things is vital to long term recovery. The odds are against us statistically. But there’s more help than ever now and making a smooth transition back into life among peers and will proper support makes all the difference.
So let’s say you’ve decided to stay put. Now what?
Again, it’s not easy to face the world right out of treatment. You’ve been in this bubble, this protected, monitored environment. You’ve cleared your head, learned something about yourself, tackled some demons and hopefully started to work some sort of a program. Most mainstream treatment centers promote the 12 step Fellowships. Just 80 years ago alcoholics were locked away in mental institutions, regarded as hopeless cases. Now, we have SO many options.
Sober Housing: ½ way, ¾ way, ⅞ way….
There are so many different scenarios to choose from in regard to what type of living arrangement you might choose after treatment. Consider that while in the inpatient and intensive outpatient stages of treatment there is still a tremendous amount of structure and accountability. Curfews, random or weekly, sometimes daily scheduled UA’s, room searches, rules and restrictions, required 12 step meetings, therapy sessions, house meetings and so on. It can be a bit much. It requires that each person be honest with themselves about what level of structure they need and for how long if they are to be a success in this new way of life. Change is hard and doesn’t come easy in most cases.
The Real Goal
Most of us need help and support to stay on the course. We take a long hard deep look at who we are at the core, review the damages caused by our negative behavior and engage in a life long journey to keep our side of the street clean, trust in a greater good that doesn’t find it’s origin in what we alone want and finally, to do right by our fellow man. Simple principles of Life – 12 step driven or not. I digress…
Sober housing or “transitional housing” is a great path to take for many people on this journey of recovery. These sober living homes offer a great bridge to life in sobriety. Often, help creating resumes, job hunting, transportation to interviews and getting around to meetings are available. It’s important to stay connected especially early on.
The difference between the ½ way to a ¼ way is simply less restrictions. Every establishment is different. Choose wisely. I ‘ll start with the lower end of the scale so we all have something to look forward to. The “flop houses.” These are properties owned by an individual or group that typically has an arrangement with the IOP related to the treatment center that the client is coming from or in some cases and independently IOP program. Either way, this typically involves 3-5 nights a week of 3 hr groups and 1 private therapy session per week. Curfew is anywhere from 8pm-11pm on weekdays and 10pm – 1am on weekends, required attendance to 12 step meetings, acquisition of gainful employment , random drug screening and other requirements as individually decided per each organization.
A ¾ way arrangement can be slightly more lenient with fewer requirements and again and we step down to less and less restrictions. Some places allow for couples and children, some even allow for pets. The cost of all these variations can range from free rent in exchange for involvement in the IOP program to weekly rent. Rent can range from $100- $300 per week depending on location and amenities. Some sober living homes do not require much other than paying rent on time. At the end of the day it all boils down to how badly the individual wants to stay sober. This is a very important choice to make in positioning oneself for maximum success.
Image courtesy of numanzaa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
There are other things to consider while considering entering into a transitional sober living environment; there are a few that have always stood out to me the most. Can you successfully navigate daily life with these imposed rules and restrictions? Don’t forget, in most cases, following this avenue geared toward long term recovery is voluntary. There are rules to follow but there are no bars on the window. Clients are free to come and go so long as they play by the rules. Some folks are compliant, others not so much. A lot of this has to do with why they are there – what is their intention? It there a sincere desire to reboot life and utilize the structure to color in the lines or are we just trying to stay on the page. There are scenarios for both – and both can work. Is the client there by force – are there legal ramifications if compliance is not met? If the client has gone to treatment and subsequently entering in to sober living under threat of family pressure rather than support, this can be dangerous. Like sobriety, the individual has to want to do things differently.
For me, transitional living was breeze. I lived communally for years and travelled on the road for years as well. “Just a band of gypsies we went down the highway…” For us it wasn’t so much “rules” it was just the things we had to do, the tasks that had to be accomplished for the group to have what it needed, for things to remain clean, organized, keep everyone fed, and so on. Everybody did their part and on down the road we went like a well oiled machine. But one bad seed in the group and the whole mojo would be off. In transitional living it is much the same way. There are chore lists, house meetings, shopping trips for communal and personal items. Everybody contributes in one fashion or another and a really beautiful sort of balance can be achieved.
Now, generally speaking in the case of your average halfway house where the current trend is family funded 20 somethings, utopia is far off. Entitlement and laziness overtake common consideration, personal responsibility and the common goal. A small percentage of people stick with what they learned in treatment. Not the trimmings for the best chance of recovery. After staying within a structured environment for a while, hopefully we have the hang of a lifestyle without drugs and alcohol at the center. A daily healthy and balanced routine it’s time to “get on with it!” Some find it helpful to make this transition over the course of just a few months, others a year or more. I have a very good friend with over 5 years of sobriety. A single mom, she put herself in to a, 18 month program where she could have and raise her daughter, obtain the level of care she needed, and transition slowly back into mainstream life. She is a living success to this type of plan. She is a miracle. It only works if your motives are geared to the proposed outcome. There are never any guarantees.
So if all you want is a semi-safe place to reside and lots of freedom to do whatever the hell you want, whenever you want don’t spend too much time shopping around – anywhere will do. If you want to position yourself in a way for continued success, choose wisely, ask a lot of questions, and most of all, know what you really want out of your recovery and what it will take to get there in these early days of getting a handle of the new lifestyle you’ve chosen.
Joy Anderson – dog lover, Cure fan and all round fabulous person.
Joy Anderson born in West Palm Beach, FL
My name comes from a friend my mother was visiting in the hospital when she was pregnant with me. The lady said to her, “This baby will be the joy of your life!” the rest is history.
I am a child of the 80’s: I miss Swatches, Rick Springfeld, The Cure, Van Halen – I could go on forever. There was no more awful era fashion-wise (think Miami Vice) and none more filled with great cheesy incredible stuff. Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Beetlejuice….The music and the movies absolutely shaped me. Yes, I’m a geek. Where the lack of self, lack of confidence, increase in poor judgement came in I’ll never know. The goon of addiction hooked me one day and I was on board for years and years.
Not anymore – sober, happy, well employed using my skills and education to do what I do best write and network.