Either you are attending treatment for a substance use disorder or you want to – well congratulations! You have come to realize the long term benefits of investing in yourself. Making the decision to receive help is brave and one of the hardest parts of the entire process, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles. Fear and self-doubt often creep in, even in places you didn’t think possible and often during the most inconvenient times.
That being said, here’s some advice to help you along your journey. After all, you are investing a lot of time and effort into this program, you might as well give it your best shot and make the most of it! These simple tips can help you in whatever program you might be checking into – inpatient, residential, PHP, IOP or outpatient.
Signing into the attendance sheet is not enough. Show up, be attentive, and participate whenever possible. Often times the days when you don’t want to do anything are often the days that are most important. It is during these scenarios you learn how to deal with real-life situations.
Applying the tools learned in treatment will never have to be applied when you are feeling happy but rather during your hardest times, so learn how to break the mold of not wanting to participate in low moments. This will teach you to be a stronger and more resilient individual leading to greater long-term success.
For some, talking doesn’t come easy, but talking through feelings with your counselor and your group will help you develop the necessary skills to express your feelings appropriately and effectively. This is one of the most valuable skills in recovery.
Remember that you are no less important that everyone in the room. Sharing your experiences will surely help you, but your words will also help those around you. You will only get from counseling and group therapy what you put in. While your counselor will try his or her best to include you in process groups, the community will have trouble understanding where you are coming from without communication and thus your journey will be limited.
Create a Team
Create a list of people in your life who are a positive influence and support your journey. Focus on people who support you emotionally rather than solely financially. This list may change throughout the course of treatment, that is ok. In order for counselors to support your progress, sign releases for your loved ones allowing them access to your treatment progress. This not only helps build accountability but gives counselors the ability to build and develop and foster a strong support system around you.
Through bad times and many more good times, your loved ones are able to help you and celebrate you along your journey. Having a support system is crucial in both treatment and post-treatment recovery.
Develop a Safety Plan
Over the course of treatment, you’ll be able to identify your triggers, red flags, and high-risk situations. Write them down, share them with counselors, loved ones, and peers. A safety plan is a realistic plan with your support network that lays out how you will effectively address these situations when you encounter them.
A preventative action plan is always preferred, but setbacks will eventually happen. What matters more is how these difficulties were handled, how you’ve learned from them, and making a change for the future. Recovery is a process of continual learning and improvement. Every time you forge ahead the easier it will be next time you encounter these scenarios.
Encourage the participation of your family and friends. Yes, you should provide a release of information to keep your loved ones involved, but you should also encourage them to attend family therapy sessions. When we return home healthy, it will be different. Loved ones are a crucial aspect of your success. They also need to learn the necessary “do’s and dont’s) of recovery.
When everyone is on the same page it makes the recovery much easier for everyone involved. Long-term success is much more likely when your support network is involved.
Stay Open and Active
You get what you put it. It may be cliche but that doesn’t make it any less true. Sobriety is yours for the taking but just going through the motions won’t be enough if you really want to be sober and stay sober. Communication is going to be key. It is imperative that you talk with your counselor about your goals in treatment, your goals in life, and your motivations for why you want to be clean.
There will be times when you think something might not be achievable – talk to your counselor about it.
There might be times when you are too bored with the program – talk to your counselor about wanting to be pushed.
Don’t hesitate to reach out. If you want something or something is bothering you, you may think it will be easier to sweep it under the rug, but don’t. Remember to stay open-minded, take suggestions, and trust your counselor (they really do want the best for you) and the process.
Say Bye to Stigmas
Chances are if you’ve asked for help you’ve gotten past the toughest stigma there is. But remind yourself that despite what society says, this is a disease and not a moral failure. Then there are some that take this too far and believe everything they’ve done is out of their control. While addiction is a disease, the ability to change your ways it a choice. Work hard and stay focused. This is the only way to battle the beast of addiction.
Let go of any negative talks about yourself. Words matter. What you say about yourself will start to form who you are. Change your thoughts to change your mind and eventually change who you are.
This is the power of evidence-based treatments like CBT. Letting go of negative thoughts can have some of the greatest effects on oneself. Easier said than done, but once again, keep working hard and you’ll eventually see change.
Dig Deep. A very small portion of treatment is quitting drugs or alcohol. A bigger part of treatment is knowing how to effectively prevent yourself from drinking again, such as identifying triggers and knowing how to effectively manage them when they happen. However, these things are only a small percentage of the true purpose of treatment.
Substance abuse treatment is mostly about exploring yourself and addressing whatever underlying cause created the addiction in the first place. These types of things can range from mental health disorders (that can be treated while in treatment), isolation, trauma, and a variety of others. Surfacing these causes can and will be difficult, but the process is necessary to effectively treat substance use.
Congratulate Yourself When You Succeed
Treatment and the recovery process is not an easy road so celebrate your successes whether big or small. Celebrate the fact that you are reading this article. Celebrate you stepping foot into treatment each and every day (or waking up in treatment). While these types of things may seem small, not everyone accomplishes them. But of course, when you overcome a big obstacle, celebrate it by talking to your peers and counselors about it. When your peers talk to you about their accomplishments, celebrate with them.
And always remember, you have the power to succeed – mind over matter.
Content Creator for Coalition Recovery