After years of working in inpatient addiction treatment, I have a learned a few things that have enhanced the success of my clients. As an addiction counselor, I help people navigate the challenges of both early recovery and later stage (stage II) recovery. Here, I will outline some of my best tips for that first week home after a stay in inpatient treatment.
1. Validate Yourself - First things first, you have just gone through weeks of inpatient treatment. If where you went was anything like where I spent half a decade of my life, that means you felt your feelings, you followed strict rules, you did some emotionally grueling work, you sat in a chair and listened for hours a day and you were away from those you loved. I've had clients tell me their families thought they were on a "vacation". Going through treatment is not for the weak! Take a moment to validate your own efforts, regardless of how your loved ones feel about your time in treatment!
2. Go to a Meeting - Inpatient treatment (specifically a 12-step based facility) sets you up to become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous. We know that being connected is so important, and becomes more important in early recovery. As soon as you leave the doors of your treatment center, getting to a meeting is your first priority. Right now, your only opportunity may be to connect with others on Zoom. Regardless of how, get connected!
If you are in the Greensboro area, check out www.nc23.org for up to date information.
3. Get a Sponsor- This is such a difficult part of the process for many! A sponsor is someone who has walked through the recovery process and is willing to walk with you through yours as well. When we've had painful past experiences, it can be difficult to trust other people. Getting a sponsor is an exercise in surrender. It means you are willing to let someone else show you how to get well. Look for someone who has what you want and ask them if they can show you how to find that for yourself.
4. Gather a List of At Least 10 People in Recovery- Ask other people in recovery for their phone number. They will understand because they have been in your shoes. Practice calling at least two people in recovery daily. When you really need to pick up the phone and get support, you will have enough practice doing so that it doesn't seem so overwhelming. Keep this list in your phone for easy access.
5. Make a To-Do List- You've been away for 28 days. You've got tasks piled up -- bills to pay, chores to do, phone calls to return. You feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. Get out a pen and paper and list everything you can think of that needs to be done. Then, put them in order of importance. Start at the top -- one by one your tasks will start to get done. By organizing like this, your brain can more easily manage the amount of tasks that need to be done. In early recovery, sometimes we need to help ourselves (and our brains) out like this! This can also help you see if there are any tasks you can get some support with !