Perhaps the most difficult time in a recovering addict’s life is that moment of leaving addiction recovery treatment – that day when one is asked to apply the skills he or she has learned over several months to a world full of triggers that could easily upset one’s goals of sobriety.
But what about the years after addiction recovery treatment, or the decades following the exit from a drug addiction centre? Maintaining a sober lifestyle can be tiring and challenging even five, ten, or fifteen years out of addiction recovery treatment – “hitting a wall” is the moment when a recovering addict asks him or herself if sobriety is still working.
Even if someone is certain about their choice of sobriety, and confident that a sober life is the only life, external factors, like societal notions about what kind of person an addict is, can erode commitment over years.
“There’s a double edged sword of being proud of how much time you have sober and the stigma and judgment and stereotypes about what your life should look like,” Dr. Adi Jaffe, an addiction psychologist and counsellor, told The Fix. “That can get really dangerous because they’re unchecked judgments.”
In the moment of “hitting a wall,” and the days that follow, there are several things to remain focused on.
Focus on staying sober for the next minute, and then the next hour
Looking forward to years of sobriety ahead can be overwhelming, and can cause you to panic or shut down. Instead, focus on staying sober for the next hour, and then the next day.
Recognize that addiction is chronic
Because addiction is a chronic disease, maintaining sobriety doesn’t always get easier with time; your tools might grow stronger and more complex, but the mountain you’re trying to climb never gets less steep. Keep that in mind, and allow yourself to accept that knowledge.
Work hard to tailor a plan to yourself and your needs
Just as each person learns differently, each addict out of a drug addiction centre stays sober differently. Take time to tune into what works for you – which internal and external help you need to maintain a sober life – and make a plan to seek them out.