The day has come. You have signed the last bits of paperwork ending your treatment. Goodbyes have been said to your therapists and you no longer have treatment appointments on your schedule. You are ready to step back into society again, but what happens next? What steps can you take to make sure your recovery stays a lasting one?
Firstly, it’s important to know that relapses can happen. Having a relapse doesn’t make someone a failure or weak. They just simply happen and all that means is that you will need to go back for more treatment. However, it’s also important to know that there are ways to lessen the chances of a relapse.
Look for a Post-treatment Support Group
One of the biggest factors in having a long-lasting recovery is having a support network of people who care about you. The advantage of a support group is that it is made up of people who have gone through what you just finished. Having people who truly understand what you have gone through can make a huge difference when times get tough. Together, you help each other hold up their burdens and help them remember the tools they learned in treatment. Sometimes you can make lifelong friends in a support group, which is perhaps the most valuable aspect of all.
Many mental health clinics have support groups for many kinds of mental health issues. Before leaving, ask your provider if they have support group meetings that will fit your needs. If not, they usually keep track of outside support groups that meet in other places. Be sure to ask about them and if they exist, they will tell you about them.
Remove the Triggers From Your Life
It’s important to be sure you get rid of things that could potentially cause a relapse once treatment is over. For those that have recovered from substance use disorder (SUD), you will want to be sure your home is empty of all things that were involved in your addiction. You can ask a trusted person in your life to go through your home and remove these items before you arrive.
If you are addicted to alcohol and have friends that spend a lot of time drinking, you will need to end your relationships with them for your safety. “Cleaning house” can be very emotional, and it’s often done while still in treatment. Any mental health professional would be glad to walk you through what things to rid yourself of to help you feel comfortable in your home post-treatment.
Triggers are unique to each person, but some common ones tend to affect everyone. People who are toxic and negatively contribute to your mental health disorder should be removed from your life. Again, this is difficult to do, but these people can only cause a release if care is not taken to prevent it.
Practice Post-treatment Affirmations
The power of the mind is stronger than most people realize. After treatment, you should practice daily affirmations to remind yourself of the hard work you accomplished in treatment. These are phrases you should remind yourself of when you are distressed, or simply as a way to start your day.
Some simple example affirmations are:
- I am stronger than my addiction
- Today I am better than I was yesterday
- I can never be a burden to the people who truly love me
Affirmations are tools unique to each person. Your mental health provider can help you find ones that match you should you ask. Many treatment programs include affirmations as part of the program, so you may learn some before you exit treatment. There are several blogs, websites, and books that exist that have positive affirmations that anyone can use. Simply find the ones that speak to you and use them when you need to, you may feel a big difference in your mood when you do so.
Schedule Check-up Appointments
When someone heals from a broken bone, they are expected to return to the doctor after a set amount of time for a check-up. This lets the doctor examine the bone and determine if it had healed all the way. If there are problems, they can easily be corrected because they were spotted long before they had time to fester and get worse.
The same can be said for mental health. When you finish treatment it will be recommended that you return after a set amount of time to speak with a professional. This person will be able to ask you how you are feeling and address any concerns you may have post-treatment. If you feel as though you may need extra help, you can easily get them before you have a full release. They can give you advice on how to proceed after the appointment and can answer any questions you may have.
It is never a sign of weakness or failure to ask for a check-up, it is simply to determine how you are doing and look for ways to improve yourself. You aren’t weak for going to the doctor when you are in pain, and the same can be said for taking care of your mental health.
Remember That It’s Always Okay to Ask for Help
Just because you finish treatment doesn’t mean that you have to continue your life alone. Nobody has to shoulder the burden of caring for their mental health by themselves. Remember that anytime, you can call for help. Nobody will judge you for wanting some extra help. Knowing when to call for help is an important skill that will be taught to you in therapy. Once you remember that there will always be someone to help you, life becomes much brighter.
It is a special day when someone finishes their treatment, and they can truly be proud of their accomplishments. However, it can be somewhat nerve-wracking to step away from the unconditional support of treatment and go back into regular society. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we teach our treatment graduates the tools and skills they need to succeed in regular society. If you are worried about being left high and dry after the treatment, know that we care and will always be available should you need help. If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental health disorder, call (949) 647-4090 to ask about our treatment programs. We are always here to help.