Leaving a place of structure and security to head home into the great unknown can be quite daunting. Throughout your stay at a residential treatment program, you’ve been guarded from outside stressors and protected from triggers, but now you are transitioning home and familiarity is just waiting for you. Ideally, you are a new person but you are heading home to an old place, so what do you do to effectively adjust to living the full life you set yourself up for while you were away? How do you maintain sobriety once you are back home? How do you continue to cope with the things that used to send your anxiety through the roof? How do you deal with the things that always sent you spiraling into a deep depression?
What you may not realize is that after your extended stay at residential treatment, you are armed with so many tools! Think of it as your personal arsenal, it travels home with you so that as you face the challenges of adjusting to life outside of treatment, you can overcome. But the thing many people don’t realize is that once they leave, they need to continue to build upon the work they’ve already completed. You aren’t done. You aren’t cured. In fact, this is a lifelong journey that will have ups and downs, relapses and trials, and bumps along the way. Truth be told, transitioning home can be the hardest part of it all. At i360, we often come into the equation at this point. We work with people, join them for a time, and help them transition home successfully, keeping that momentum going strong! This is the part of the story when the rubber meets the road – all that work you did while you were away now needs to translate into behavior change in the midst of real, authentic living.
Once you leave a rehab program, there are some things you should focus on doing to carry those healthy behavior changes into your everyday world. You have the tools, now you need to use them. But the last thing you should do is attempt to continue your recovery journey on your own. At i360, as an outpatient mental health treatment program, we work with our clients to give the support they need so they can be successful in their journey. Here are the top five things we suggest doing to implement healthy changes upon transitioning home:
Add structure into your daily routine: We help our clients set up a schedule to follow day to day – when to get up, chores to be done, timeframes for exercise, attending AA, job searching, heading to work, exploring fun and hobbies, time for lights out, etc. Keeping to a normal routine reduces the chance of boredom which could lead to opportunities for relapse. Stay occupied, stay active.
Identify a support network: Once you return home, plug into outpatient groups like i360’s IOP, workshops, and DBT skills group. When we work with clients, we will often go with them to AA – going with a buddy helps eliminate some of that anxiety. But it’s key to have a support system around you when you have those difficult times, and also when you have good days and want to share that with others. Seek out a counselor, join a church, and stay away from old friends, places, and things that you associate with the past to prevent cravings from resurfacing.
Exercise and eat well: Take care of yourself! Hygiene is important, as is good sleep, eating habits, and exercise. Focusing on wellness is a major component of the work we do with clients. You are a healthy you when you take care of your whole self. And when you get the nutrition and sleep you need, you are armed to overcome triggers and challenges throughout your day.
Explore spirituality: Who are you going to lean on when you face difficult situations? How can you find a way to respect yourself and others? What do you believe is right and wrong? Get in touch with your moral compass, and let that be a guide to how you live from here on out.
Leave room for fun: When you take out a negative (substance abuse, anxiety, depression) you’re left with a void unless you fill it with a positive! With our i360 clients, we explore fun and hobbies, helping them figure out who they are and what they love once that negative is removed from their lives. Don’t sit inside and isolate yourself from the rest of the world, get out there and become who you are intended to be! Sign up for photography class, take cooking lessons, join a small group at Church, learn to pay tennis, do something to get outside yourself – like volunteering…The options are endless.
Remain dedicated to the mission as you integrate back into life – give it everything you’ve got! Just remember that going away to inpatient treatment doesn’t equate to a quick fix. Yes, you will have the tools you need, but that doesn’t count until you can implement them in the midst of life. By staying accountable to a daily schedule, identifying a support network, focusing on wellness, exploring spirituality, and leaving room for fun, you will be setting yourself up to succeed in translating insights into behavior when you come home. Reach out to us at i360 as you plan to transition home so we can support you in that.
Written by Lauren Barnett, i360 Marketing Director