-The following was submitted by a Clearbrook alumni
“My first days after rehab were probably the scariest and most overwhelming days in recovery. I didn’t know how to talk to people, what to do with my time, or where to turn for help. In rehab you have this idea of what it is going to be like when you leave. ‘Maybe I’ll go see a movie or spend time with family and friends…things I haven’t done in a really long time.’ While those things sound great in theory, doing even the simplest of tasks without drugs and alcohol, can sometimes be nerve-wracking in the beginning. Something that helped me in the first days after rehab, was writing a list and sticking to it. Having a plan after addiction treatment was imperative for someone as scatter-minded as myself.
For longer than I could even remember, I was killing my body and brain with drugs and alcohol, so it was no wonder why I couldn’t think straight. I was in a constant roller coaster motion of emotional highs and lows, and simply didn’t know what to do. So I began with a list. What’s the first thing I need to do? What is most important? While these things may vary from person to person, here’s what my list looked like…
Get To Aftercare
Believe it or not, the counselors and caseworkers at the rehab program you go to, give you an aftercare program for a reason. At first, I didn’t see how very important this plan was going to be for me. I just figured I would show up to few sessions and then be done with it. I learned very early on though, how essential my outpatient program was to my ongoing recovery. It is easy enough to assume that 28 days in rehab is enough, but think about how long you have been using. I used for years, so to think a month in treatment was sufficient, was naïve at best.
It was with my outpatient counselor that I began addressing many issues, I never even thought of or remembered when I was in rehab. Furthermore, my group acted as a great sounding board for the crazy thoughts and ideas I had in early sobriety. So, before you completely scratch it from your mind, please understand continuing with treatment was vital to my recovery process. Give it a chance, you have nothing to lose by trying.
Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
It should be obvious since its one of the things they drill into your head in rehab. I had to get to a meeting. The counselors told me it was there that I would find the support I needed. Okay, simple enough, right? Maybe. But if you are anything like me, you know how terrifying of a thought it is to walk into a room full of people you don’t know. ‘What if they look at me funny? What if I trip and fall and everyone laughs at me? What if they make me talk in front of everyone and they all judge me?’ Sound familiar? Then you should take some comfort in knowing that none of these things happened to me, and they won’t for you either.
Take a deep breath and remember that everyone was the ‘new guy’ at one point or another. Everyone felt the way you do, and the beautiful thing is that they were able to get through it. When they say ‘the newcomer is the most important person in the room,’ they mean it. The ‘old-timers’ only have long-term sobriety by helping the new person, thus your importance in the room. It’s almost a twisted-little oxymoron of sorts… ‘We keep what we have, by giving it away.’ So please don’t be discouraged or scared of walking into the rooms of AA or NA, your presence is vital to the program’s survival!
Ask For Help…And Take It
It’s one thing to ask for help, and another to ask for help and accept it when it’s offered. They seem to go hand-in-hand with each other, but you may be surprised at how many ask for help and then do nothing when it’s offered. I was one of those people for quite some time. When I first attempted to get sober as a teenager, long before I ever considered going to rehab, I took a shot at going to some meetings. I could never understand why they didn’t help. Maybe it had something to do with never calling those numbers on the list they gave me. Or, skipping out 5 minutes early while the ‘old-timers’ were giving me advice in response to my gut-spilling emotional breakdown.
I couldn’t expect to get the answers I needed if I was busy leaving or making coffee or playing on my phone the entire time. It wasn’t until I started showing up early, staying late, and listening to the advice of others that I was able to get better. Actively looking for a sponsor, support group, and homegroup were important, but only meant something after I started utilizing them.
My first days after rehab, I would hear the word ‘fellowshipping’ and had no idea what they were talking about. In layman’s terms, it is simply doing fun things with other people in the program. Whether it is going out for pizza or bowling, or just going to get coffee with other recovering people. Eventually, I found this to be my favorite thing to do. For so long, I was consumed with one thing…getting completely annihilated on booze and drugs. I started to notice in sobriety, that I forgot how to have fun, or what it really felt like to laugh.
Fellowshipping doesn’t have to be restricted to just those in the program either. Spending time with family and friends is important, but this is one of those things that will vary from person to person. For me, no one in my family had an addiction problem, and most of my friends didn’t either. Nevertheless, there were a few individuals I had to cut ties with, simply because they weren’t conducive for my recovery. I couldn’t expect to stay sober hanging around people I used to party with. So for this, I would say, ‘To Thine Own Self Be True.’ Know your limits and be honest with yourself. If someone isn’t in a good place, you shouldn’t be spending your time with them.
Be Prepared For The Silence
When the dust settles, and it always does, you need to know what to do. The reality is, you can’t be around people 24 hours a day. In the beginning, being alone can be really difficult. It’s during these times when your racing thoughts can get the best of you, so keeping yourself occupied will be important. Getting back to old hobbies or finding new ones is definitely a great start. For me, it was hiking, painting, and journaling.
Once I started getting more comfortable with it, I began practicing meditation and prayer. At first it was just one big jumbled mess of words, but someone told me early on, ‘There is no right way to pray.’ So, I just started. After a while it got easier and became a part of my daily routine.
When In Doubt
My motto is, ‘When in doubt, write it all out.’ The examples I gave you today are very broad and may leave some room question. What I found helpful on the days I was most scattered or overwhelmed, was to write down a daily plan, or schedule if you will. It may seem juvenile at first, but give it a chance. Literally putting the simplest things on paper can help steer your day in the right direction.
Some of the things I included on my list were…
- 7 am meeting
- Get coffee
- Fill out job applications
- Go grocery shopping
- Afternoon meeting
- Meet ‘so-and-so’ for lunch
Again, these are just some examples, but may be helpful if you are struggling to fill your day and keep your mind occupied.”
Contact Clearbrook’s Addiction Rehab Today
At Clearbrook, we understand how overwhelming early sobriety can be. That is why we believe strongly in continuing strong relationships with our alumni, while offering support groups and open AA meetings. If you have just completed a stay at rehab, and are wondering what you can do to stay busy, please give this article some thought.
If you or someone you love is currently struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing effective addiction treatment and therapy. Recovery is possible and it starts here!