Leaving Sober Housing: Creating Your Own Sober Lifestyle
Leaving a sober living facility and embarking on a new life causes different reactions in different people. After reaching your goals for sober living in Delray Beach, the next step on the recovery journey is to move forward and create the life you want for yourself.
Some recovering addicts who leave sober living communities experience a “pink cloud” effect of optimism and new experiences. The feeling of accomplishment is well deserved and rediscovering the simple pleasures of life, like ice cream on the beach, is one of the rewards of early sobriety in Delray Beach.
Finding Your Footing
Not everyone has this period of excitement. For some who have felt comfortable and safe in a clean sober living facility, there may be feelings of anxiety about living independently. Every individual has different needs, and it is important to stay in transitional living until you are truly ready to achieve your goals.
For almost everyone, the honeymoon period soon ends, and they are left with the same responsibilities and challenges. Bills to pay, family relationships, lovers and friends who have varying expectations, returning to the old job or seeking a new one—these are just some of the challenges waiting. They are the challenges everyone must face. For the recovering addict, only the starting point is different.
Building a solid foundation of sobriety and accessing the resources that will boost your ability to transcend these challenges is the focus of recovery. Full participation in therapy and group meetings prepares you for the steps ahead and provides the solidity and security we all need to thrive.
Timing Your Launch
Individuals reach their drug addiction treatment goals at different rates. While there is no established “correct” length of time to remain in sober homes and treatment facilities, studies show that less than 90 days of treatment has limited success.1 The best outcomes are associated with longer stays.
Some individuals who choose medication-supported treatment plans might stay in Delray sober living up to 12 months.1 Leaving treatment too early might jeopardize success, and returning to a residential facility might be necessary to more firmly establish the lifestyle changes that keep relapse at bay.
Recovery is a long-term process which continues throughout life. Like other chronic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, lifestyle changes and management strategies take time to be fully established and effective. The relapse rates of these chronic diseases are similar to those of addiction, meaning treatment plan adjustments and ongoing management effort is to be expected.2
Getting Back to Work
One of your first moves may be returning to work, seeking new employment, or finding your first job. If this causes you some trepidation, consider these points:
- If you have the opportunity to return to your former job and know it will support your sobriety, this transition can be managed in cooperation with your HR department or employer. Most employers will provide time off to attend meetings or therapy sessions, and they will take seriously their obligation to enable their employees’ treatment.
- If your former job is unavailable or unsuitable for recovery, such as bartending, there are therapeutic work programs which will provide employment for those who have completed a residential or intensive outpatient program. These opportunities provide a drug-free environment and policies that support recovery goals.
- If you have not held a regular job before, building a resume and reputation with therapeutic or volunteer work provides purpose, a regular schedule, and genuine accomplishment every day.
- This period of challenge will be short and, once a solid work record is established, new opportunities will become available and life-changing career goals can be achieved.
Strengthening the Right Relationships
Those closest to us also need to adjust to the changed person who returns from sober living, and understanding their feelings is part of changing old relationship patterns. Family, partners, and friends need time to recognize, trust, and embrace the new you.
So, how do you tackle those crucial conversations?
How to Talk About Your Recovery to the People Who Matter Most
Part of building trust is being the first to risk honesty. When you are talking to the people who are very important to you, keep these tips in mind:
- Explain clearly what you expect from them in supporting your sobriety.
- Ask them to be equally clear in what they expect from you during the transition and over time.
- Talk about the struggles of recovery and include them in your journey.
- Apologize for past situations and clear the air about past behavior, without defensiveness.
- Actively listen to their feedback and adjust your course accordingly.
- Ask for their understanding during the long-term healing needed to return to normal chemical balance, and own up to mood swings or irritability as they happen.
- Arrange to spend quality time alone with each of your loved ones, to allow for these discussions and to fully reconnect one-on-one.
- Make clear with words and actions the value you place on these relationships.
Eliminating Toxic Relationships
While some old and new relationships support healing, others from the past may be toxic. During therapy, you learn how to differentiate between them and, as part of your transition to a sober lifestyle, you may need to curtail or clearly end such relationships.
- If your old social circle was centered around substances, it will no longer serve your needs.
- Having a social circle and group activities is part of being a healthy human being.
Rather than isolating yourself to avoid those toxic relationships, now is the time to branch out and form new relationships using the social skills and self-knowledge that you have gained in recovery.
Identifying and Eliminating Triggers
When something is likely to light up the brain pathways that are associated with drug use and spawn cravings, we refer to it as a trigger. These might be people, places, smells, tastes, songs, or habits.
Triggers are unique to each individual and, while some were obvious enough to be discussed in treatment, some may come as a surprise. As you navigate through your day, pay attention to cravings and what triggered them, with an eye to eliminating as many triggers as possible.
Developing new activities and social groups which support your sobriety and have never been associated with addiction is part of this strategy. Sitting home and feeling isolated are not the best ways to avoid your triggers, so build new associations by getting out there and engaging with others in a new way.
Social Situations and Social Media Strategies
An essential part of sober living in Delray Beach is a healthy social life and staying in touch with your support network. Put some energy into building friendships with these ideas for creating fun and fulfilling connections:
- Start an active new hobby or team sport.
- Explore creative or craft skills with classes or clubs.
- Learn to cook healthy recipes and engage someone to participate or taste-test.
- Pursue an interest in seeing places like museums, art galleries, or landmarks.
- Invite a friend or loved one to join you exploring the outdoors or exercising.
- Post on social media about your activities and adventures.
- Share as much as you are comfortable with regarding your sobriety on social media.
- Join social media sobriety groups for inspiring stories and supportive meetups.
Managing Lingering Symptoms
While the acute symptoms of withdrawal will have passed before you consider leaving sober housing, some effects of drug use linger for six months or more. This is one reason longer stays can be beneficial, as a condition called “post-acute withdrawal syndrome” may create obstacles to the process of building relationships.
The brain is establishing new pathways and creating a healthy chemical balance—a process which takes time and long-term sobriety. Until that balance is established, cravings may continue to arise, and these symptoms may come and go:3
- Depression, feelings of guilt, disconnection, or emotional numbness
- Generalized anxiety, feelings of panic, excessive worrying
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior, memory problems, impaired concentration
- Impairment of interpersonal skills, psychosocial dysfunction
- Mood swings, irritability, overreactions
- Sleep disturbances, which may include dreams of using
- Increased sensitivity to pain, coordination problems, clumsiness
Leveraging Your Assets
The knowledge and experience gained during sober living in Delray Beach will help you know when the time is right for your launch from sober living into a sober life. While an average stay is between 166 and 254 days,4 the time you need to fully prepare for that leap is vital and precious. Only when you have fully healed are you ready to meet these challenges.
Helping you create the right plan for independent sobriety is part of your recovery at RECO Institute’s sober homes in Delray Beach. Each of our comfortable and luxurious residences embodies the best Florida sober living has to offer and will fully prepare you to transition smoothly to the fulfilling life you deserve.
If part of that transition plan is ongoing therapy, you can utilize the RECO Intensive outpatient program, which will provide strategies and support as you take the lead in creating what is best for yourself. When you step out of our doors, you will be ready to change your life and your future for the better.