You’ve made it through detoxification, rehabilitation, and now you’re in recovery and sober–it should be smooth sailing from here, right? If only it were that easy. Recovery is a lifelong process and sobriety in its earliest stages is a tough challenge. Once you leave the supportive environment of inpatient rehab, you may be struggling to keep from relapsing in the real world. While each person’s recovery looks different, there are some common challenges you’ll face in early recovery.
Are You Experiencing Cravings?
Just because drugs and alcohol are out of your system, doesn’t mean you don’t still have cravings for them. The substances you have been abusing cause changes in your brain that create the pleasure chemical serotonin. Now that you’ve stopped using drugs or alcohol, your brain has to produce serotonin again on its own to get those pleasurable sensations. This may take some time. In the meantime, you physically crave those substances and may even find it tempting to relapse.
You can ride out the waves of temptation by finding ways to distract yourself. Finding new hobbies, exercising, and meditation can all help you with stress and can distract you when those cravings hit. Receiving help from a support group meeting and finding a sponsor can also make an invaluable difference to getting you through these rough times. You are not alone — many people have had to go through managing these triggers and cravings in the past. Although that doesn’t make yours any easier, at least you know others who have been through them and survived. So can you.
Fixing Broken Relationships
Before recovery, you were a different person, driven by your need to self-medicate. You may have done a lot of things that strained or damaged your relationships with family, friends, and significant others. Just because you know you are a different person doesn’t mean that the people in your social circle understand this. Earning that trust takes time. Earning it back after blowing it takes even more time. The people in your circle of friends and family are likely to still be angry about some of the behaviors you engaged in before you went into treatment. Some people will need more patience than others, but in time, you can regain relationships through honesty and persistence to show people you’ve genuinely changed.
Your Finances May Be a Mess
While you were using, it’s likely you weren’t very responsible with your finances — and that may be putting it mildly. Some people are looking at complete financial ruin. Other people are simply starting over again. The first part of getting back on your feet financially is finding the right job. This often brings up the question of whether to find an employer you can tell about your history of substance abuse or whether to keep it quiet. Most people choose to keep their past private unless they are forced to divulge details of their history for various reasons, such as addressing gaps in employment. Your family may also be reluctant to help you get back on your feet financially because of your actions when you had a substance abuse problem. You may have stolen from them or taken advantage by asking for money. Try using some budgeting software and developing a plan to get your finances back on track.
Making New Friends
One of the hardest things about going into recovery is having to leave behind your friends who are still using. That can be very lonely when you first start recovery and need to make new, sober friends. You can find and make friends who are also sober by going to support groups in your area and any sponsored activities through recovery groups or organizations. There you can find many like-minded individuals who also need support in recovery and with whom you don’t have to explain that you can’t have a casual drink or take certain prescription medications.
Finding new friends in general can be a little more complicated. If you are taking up new hobbies to help cope with stress and anxiety during recovery, you can meet new friends through those activities. For instance, you may meet a new friend at an art class or a yoga class. Whether or not you tell them about your past is up to you, as well as when you tell them if you choose to do so. But if you do want to form a lasting friendship, you’re probably going to need to talk to them about why you don’t want to go to bars or have a drink at a party. You’ll know when the time feels right in your relationship.
When you first enter into recovery, it can be a difficult transition from rehab to living in the real world. Suddenly you’re faced with several challenges on top of staying sober. Many people experience relapse and if you do, it’s not the end of the world, but there are some things you’ll have to face head-on to try to avoid backtracking. You likely need to repair relationships and your finances in addition to dealing with cravings and trying to meet new sober friends. Here at Everlast Recovery Center, we can help. We follow our clients from detoxification, rehabilitation, and recovery with our aftercare program, whether they suffer from substance abuse, mental illness, or both. We help you develop the skills you need to navigate recovery successfully and avoid a future relapse. Our Riverside, CA facility offers a home-away-from-home atmosphere where you can get the personalized care you need to stay sober. Call us today at (866) 338-6925 to learn more.