Developing an escape plan early in one’s recovery journey is essential to maintaining sobriety, avoiding slips, and relapsing. However, creating these escape plans is a skill on its own, and it can take some fine-tuning to implement these plans safely and effectively. Effective escape plans can act as a great safety net for those in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Whether an individual is actively using them or taking solace in knowing that there is a plan ready, they can be great tools for maintaining prolonged, healthy sobriety.
What Is an Escape Plan?
Escape plans are put into place as an individual may be going out into the “real world.” Especially pertinent early on in one’s recovery or as they are transitioning out of a residential or sober living facility, these plans are put in place to provide a way for those in recovery to remove themselves from high-risk situations that may feel overwhelming, introduce unnecessary stress, or challenge one’s hard-earned sobriety.
These plans are meant to be enacted quickly to help an individual remove themselves from these situations as soon as possible. While these plans are often used when an individual is attending functions such as weddings, parties, holidays, or other challenging scenarios that may have ties to one’s past use, they are not only limited to this use. Even regular trips to common recreational spaces, errands, or other innocuous places can still unexpectedly produce several stressors. Having a plan to cope with these and remove oneself from the space can be instrumental in maintaining one’s sobriety.
Work With Your Support System
Support systems, especially family members, close friends, and roommates, are integral components to effective escape plans. Creating these plans involves keeping these supports in the loop about one’s own plans and destinations. Not only can this help to continue to strengthen relationships and trust, but if an escape plan has to be used, supports can jump into action and immediately begin moving to where someone is to help.
Keeping supports informed also means that they will be available to pick up the phone whenever needed. By informing a trusted support person that one will be out at a potentially difficult space, extra care can be taken to ensure that the ringer is on, the volume is turned up, and that one’s calls will get through when needed most.
Inviting supports to join you can be exceptionally helpful as well, as not only can they provide immediate and intimate support if stresses arise, but they can also help both emotionally and physically to remove an individual from a stressful environment.
Keep to a Planned Schedule
Keeping a consistent schedule can help both mitigate unforeseen stressors and ensure that supports can act as quickly and effectively as needed if an individual needs to distance themselves from a difficult situation. Keeping to a clear itinerary and not deviating to different locations, extending time frames, or introducing new people or other unforeseen elements can make navigating these outings a bit easier. The effectiveness of escape plans is often dictated by communication, either with in-person support or other contact methods, and these elements can add extra factors or complications.
Talk About Outings
Discussing one’s emotional state when they are outside the house or recovery sphere can be a great indication of how well one’s coping strategies are working. However, it is especially important to discuss with supports, professionals, and peers when and why escape plans had to be mobilized. Talking about these experiences can be difficult, but they can also help each individual discover unforeseen stressors, patterns of behavior, and help to refine one’s coping strategies and escape plans in the future, even informing an individual if such excursions are necessary compared to the potential risks they may present.
Weigh the Risks and Benefits
Having an escape plan with supports ready to answer the phone, drive to one’s location, or any other kind of predetermined method of support is an incredible tool. However, it still lies upon those in recovery to identify risks and use escape plans as necessary. While these escape plans are designed to help an individual leave high-risk environments, establishing these plans does not mean that an individual will necessarily be able to just start attending regular parties or nightlife, and doing so can still compromise one’s hard-earned sobriety.
While there is a definite need to address one’s social needs, deciding to stay home or have a more intimate gathering with friends is still a great option, as going to parties or other functions may still introduce risk into one’s recovery journey. Each individual will have to make their own decision about how they will engage with friends and their social needs. Even effective escape plans don’t entirely eliminate risk from one’s life, so it is important to weigh the benefits of attending certain functions against their own sobriety before agreeing to attend potentially high-risk activities.
Creating an escape plan is essential to maintain sobriety, and establishing trusted supports and creating a plan is an important part of the recovery process. At Everlast Recovery, we can help you begin to understand your addiction and develop your coping skills, all while helping you identify and create pertinent escape plans to help you avoid slips or relapse in high-risk scenarios. We also offer a number of programs to help you continue to build upon your sober toolkit, and you can personalize your time with us by engaging in art therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, individual and group counseling, and much more. Our homestyle residential treatment is also dedicated to helping create the safe space necessary to continue building upon your sobriety in a comfortable, supportive, and community-focused atmosphere. For more information on how we can help you or to speak to a caring, trained professional about your unique situation, call us today at (866) 338-6925.