So you’ve been released into the real world: You rocked inpatient treatment, you’re no longer severely dependent on substances, and you no longer need the same heightened level of care. You reached goals and made strides during treatment you never thought you would. Now, you’re headed back into your community to be a productive and active citizen. It’s all a cakewalk from there, right?
Well, not exactly.
Treatment will not “cure” you from substance use disorder (SUD). While you may no longer need a specialized facility to receive around-the-clock care and supervision, the next progression after being discharged from these safe havens is entering an outpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment is a new stage of recovery that depends on self-accountability and self-sufficiency.
Outpatient Treatment and Continuing Recovery
Outpatient treatment pairs well for those who do not require medical detox or 24-hour care during treatment, but it does take adopting new healthy habits, behaviors, and thought patterns.
Over time it will become easier to manage cravings and intrusive thoughts, but they never altogether leave. They can be ongoing for months or even years as you transition between inpatient and outpatient programs, sober living communities, and continuing care. For many, continuing care is necessary to maintain sobriety and avoid the cycle of substance misuse.
Outpatient treatment can be tricky. You do not have the luxury of taking more time off work. On top of that, bills and other responsibilities make it difficult to avoid going directly back to work. That does not include increased stress and anxiety, which is not uncommon during the first few weeks and months after withdrawal.
The liberties that come with being out in the “real world” can feel disconcerting at first and might leave you uncertain about your ability to maintain sobriety long-term, but there are things you can do to lessen the impact of those pressures, including:
- Communicate with your supervisor or a human resource (HR) representative to inform them of your recovery progress and any limitations. Substance use disorder is considered a medical condition, and employers must follow specific laws and make accommodations where they apply. You can check your city, state, and county workplace laws and regulations online.
- Speak with your doctor and get a medical note providing proof of a need for any necessary accommodations for work.
- Contact your local state or county department of health and human services to learn about local resources.
You are ultimately accountable for maintaining your sobriety, which is why you should also feel empowered to safeguard your spaces and be proactive about informing the people in the different aspects of your life on what they can do to protect your sobriety.
Your support system plays a big part in balancing the responsibilities of outpatient treatment and your day-to-day responsibilities, as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) notes how the process of recovery is supported through relationships and social networks. Support groups will aid in your ability to interact socially, create healthy boundaries and expectations, and give you the strength to keep moving forward, which is crucial during long-term recovery.
This group of people can be anyone, from your peers and friends to family and neighbors, so long you trust them to support your journey of recovery. Balancing both work and outpatient duties can bring triggers, but a support group alleviates those pressures in these ways:
- Help give an objective outside point of view
- Holds you accountable for your actions
- Motivation to stay sober
- Reduced stress and anxiety related to social situations
- A safe outlet for your concerns and worries
- Someplace you can get advice and learn helpful life skills
- Non-judgemental space where you can feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings
Self-care is pivotal when it comes to balancing your outpatient treatment. If there was ever a time to put yourself first, it’s when you transition into the “real world” where triggers and pressures exist in abundance, and the best way to tackle that front is with self-care. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), when you emphasize your own needs, it plays a role in maintaining your mental health and helps support your treatment and recovery.
Treatment facilities like White House Recovery and Detox teach how to factor self-care into your new habits and routines; however, it’s up to you to take those practices home and apply them to areas of your life that could benefit from changes.
While you may feel the pressure to get back in the swing of your professional and social habits, self-care takes a balanced approach to your work and home life that’s helps alleviate some of these pressures. These include:
- Allowing yourself to explore new interests
- Developing new boundaries and sticking to them
- Picking up a form of meditation
At White House Recovery and Detox, we want your return to normalcy to be as smooth as possible. We fully understand the complexities and pressure that recovery outside of a facility can bring, which is why we instill principles when you’re here to take home with you. Once you’ve mastered how to delegate for yourself in the various areas you plan on frequenting, establish a support system, and learned to put yourself first, you’ll find that treatment out in the “real world” is not so bad. White House Recovery and Detox actually promotes self-sufficiency, and we’re rooting for you to hit the process of your recovery out of the park as well. The only fear is in the unknown, and here we’ve laid out the best “how-to guide” you can find. We’re on your side. To find out more about our services, reach out to our office today by calling (800) 510-5393.