Recovery is not a 30, 60, or 90-day program. Recovery is a journey that lasts a lifetime. It is a common school of thought that once someone has completed their time at a treatment program that they are fully prepared for the “real world”. This is a misconception that needs to be squashed. The day one leaves treatment is the day the real work starts in recovery.

Addicts and alcoholics seek out treatment for many reasons, one being that they have lost the ability to live life on life’s terms. Their families are torn apart, maintaining a job becomes nearly impossible, and just being able to get out of bed in the morning and function can be a daunting task for someone who is active in their addiction. With that said, it is a part of any good treatment program to teach men and women how to live again. Even though it may seem basic, even juvenile to make sure the clients are waking up on time, making their bed, taking a shower etc. It is these simple disciplines that need to be re programmed into one’s brain and behaviors.

Substance abuse treatment centers teach individuals much about themselves. They discover what triggers them, how to cope with difficult situations, healthy lifestyle habits, the importance of attending regular meetings, spiritual growth, and much more. Each day the client is given an opportunity to process what their current emotional state is and talk it through with a counselor and/or amongst their peers. This is all evidence based treatment that truly works and will take a person from a struggling state to a hopeful state of surrender.

Once the individual has completed their recommended length of stay it is common for treatment centers to host a graduation day, farewell gathering, and a proper send off. Kind and encouraging words are spoken to the departing client; they may have completed some step work and assignments given by their counselor. Hopefully this is a changed person, completely different from the man or woman who walked through the door. The future awaits and it can be both exciting and terrifying. But as mentioned before, this is when the real work starts. Find a job, attend meetings regularly, if not every day, continue to see a therapist, make positive choices, be responsible, go back to the family, make new friends, maybe find a new place to live…a little overwhelming? To most. To the addict/alcoholic? Absolutely! And sometimes this pressure is too much.

So, what is suggested? One day at a time, one step at a time. And when all else fails, go to a meeting! Staying active in recovery is crucial to one staying sober. It is strongly suggested to continue seeing a therapist or counselor to help guide the person through the transition and changes ahead. Being in treatment is a great time to set goals that may have been unattainable during active addiction. Whether it be getting a job, saving up for a car, attending to health issues, repairing the family dynamic, paying off debt, traveling, exercise, finding a small group to connect with, whether through church or hobby, moving to a new city, running a marathon, etc. All these things are possible should the individual choose to strive for them and put in the work.

The decision to check in to treatment can be the most difficult, humbling, and powerful decision one might make in their lifetime. But the choices made the moment one leaves rehab will have a huge impact on achieving a sober life that is worth living.

By Amber Montgomery