The Pros & Cons of Going Home After Addiction Treatment
If, as with many clients or patients in addiction treatment, you have left town to get appropriate care, you may have a very difficult decision after treatment whether you should return home to live. On the face of it, you might say, “Of course!” But the decision is far more nuanced. Sometimes starting fresh after the most traumatic and difficult time makes sense. On the other hand, being amongst loved ones can be helpful in rebuilding broken relationships and having a built-in support team. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of going home or alternately staying away after addiction treatment.
The Case for Returning Home
While it will be a tough decision between going home and staying away after treatment, there are some definite pluses to returning. First, and most importantly, if you have communicated well with your family and friends (maybe for the first time in many years or even decades), going home offers the opportunity to mend and cultivate close relationships. Part of virtually every effective aftercare program will include working on and ultimately repairing family relationships. This is critical for your support and continued sobriety because, for most of us, family is a core part of who we are. Being estranged from our family or having a particularly tense relationship can be a source of shame and embarrassment, making it much harder to enjoy life’s victories and easier to get caught up in the losses.
A social life is also exceptionally important in the post-recovery period. When you head home, you already have a social network to tap into. However, this may be a double-edged sword; every person’s circumstance is unique. Many people who took drugs were likely part of what their friends and family would call the “wrong crowd.” While you had the courage and foresight to seek help, it’s unlikely that much has changed in that crowd since you’ve been away. It’s not unusual for patients to return home and, for one reason or another, get back into the crowd that may have started them down the path of addiction or enabled and encouraged them.
On the other hand, there may be supportive friends who could help you stay on track when you are back home. Of course, these are the friends and family members that we encourage you to stick with. Remember that recovery, especially early, can be fragile, and romantic or platonic relationships should not be taken for granted. Most importantly, if you are going home, surround yourself with a support system with which you can communicate openly and candidly. Part of success is recognizing the possibility of relapse and being able to turn to someone – it can be your sponsor, your treatment center, or the support system you’ve created to help you navigate the choppy waters of addiction recovery.
Reasons to Stay Away From Home & Make New Roots After Treatment
Florida is well known for its addiction treatment centers for good reason. People recovering from substance use disorders often appreciate the year-round great weather and many support organizations. But is that enough to leave home and start a new life? No, it isn’t, but there are plenty of other great reasons to consider settling elsewhere after recovery:
First, many temptations and the aforementioned “bad crowd” are not part of your new life in a new place. This can be exceptionally important, especially in more depressed socioeconomic areas where career opportunities, amongst other challenges, have pushed people toward substances of abuse. In that vein, getting a new set of friends back home is much harder when the old crew is still around. On the other hand, being away from that toxicity in a new, exciting place like Florida can jump-start a life with like-minded people.
The popularity of seeking addiction treatment in Florida means that there is a large recovering community, possibly larger than anywhere else in the United States. This allows you to find support groups of all sizes and philosophies. It also means plenty of opportunities to find a job within the addiction treatment industry. For many, the résumé gap caused by addiction or mental health concerns can be a dealbreaker when looking for a longer-term career. This is especially true if your substance abuse culminated in a criminal record. Treatment centers, and the treatment industry in general, are very accepting of recovering individuals because we understand that they have a unique perspective and often have a strong desire to make a difference and give back to the community that gave so much to them.
Staying near where you successfully recovered also gives you a better opportunity to participate in an aftercare program. Sure, there are plenty of support groups in every community and online, but if the treatment program at a particular facility resonates with you, attending in person can make a difference. If you can contribute by taking an active role in the aftercare program, you can reinforce the many skills and coping mechanisms that got you to sobriety while also being a beacon for others that are struggling or need more guidance.
What You Need, Regardless of Where You Find Yourself
It doesn’t matter what or who your higher power may be, but for most, a sense that we are not the center of the universe and that there is a higher power to which we answer is a humbling thought and feeling that is also a cornerstone of longer-term recovery. Whether you go home to recover or stay away, developing or rekindling that sense of spirituality, no matter what it looks like, is very important, and that’s why it’s one of the five pillars of recovery at The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center and Through the Archway.
Stay in Touch
Support opportunities are available regardless of where you find and ultimately complete treatment. Whether they are fellowship-based support groups, aftercare programs from the facility, communication with your sponsor, or otherwise, keeping in touch with these support systems is very important. When times are tough, or the inevitable temptations are at an all-time high, it feels easier to withdraw, but these are the times when you need to lean on your support system even harder. You may feel embarrassed that your resolve is wavering or ashamed that you haven’t been able to achieve everything you expected to this point, but that is not a reason to give up. In fact, it is a great reason to re-double your efforts and look for solutions. Remember that those around you have been there before and conquered the hurdles you are experiencing today.
Understand Your True Worth
Whether socially, romantically, or in our careers, we tend to minimize our worth and settle for less. However, we do so at our peril, especially in the early days of recovery. Self-worth, or lack thereof, is a significant relapse trigger. If we are unsettled in our relationships or have not given ourselves a fair shake in our careers, it’s very easy to fall back into a funk and slip toward the cravings, trying to convince us that the old way was better. Never forget how important you are; remember that you can always change your circumstance for the better. It may be uncomfortable, but it’s doable.
In recovery or not, we do not prioritize self-care as a society. Many of us are stressed in our everyday lives, whether at home or work. For some, this stress leads to physical and emotional harm. We overeat, under-exercise, sleep poorly, and generally treat ourselves without the respect we deserve. Getting the proper amount of sleep, staying hydrated, eating a balanced, healthy diet, and exercising regularly has unbelievable tangible and intangible benefits, all of which make us feel good. Sure, at the moment, especially early days, pushing away the bad foods to only eat the good or pushing ourselves to go to the gym and work out feels tough. But at the end of the day, we have something to be proud of, and we almost invariably improve.
Of course, too much of a good thing can also be bad. And we don’t want to replace one addiction with another. Eating too little, exercising too much, or even sleeping too much can be problematic. As such, moderation is the key to all things self-care. We find that having firm boundaries with some room for flexibility and indulgence at times is the best way to go. Absolute rigidity and alternately no boundaries often have a detrimental effect, even if good intentions are there.
Don’t Underestimate the Buddy Effect
While you have a support system at home or otherwise, it’s also important to have a few key people, call them sidekicks, that are particularly attuned to your journey in recovery. They may or may not be in recovery themselves. But they are willing and active participants in the changes you’re trying to make. They can be sounding boards, cheerleaders, or constructive critics. But ultimately, they care, and you know it. The buddy system keeps you accountable and gives you a go-to person that has your best interest at heart. This is not necessarily one person and one person only. You may have a close friend or family member that advises you on the goings-on within your social and family circle. You may have an old friend joining your diet and exercise program. The possibilities are endless, as is the amount of great advice you can glean.
Most importantly, you should both benefit from this relationship. If one person is perceived to derive a greater benefit, it can cause strain in the relationship over the long term as the person who always gives begins to feel taken advantage of and resentful. You may think you have less to give than your partner or buddy, but this is rarely true. Having gone through the recovery process, you have a perspective that can inspire anyone to improve their lives or become a better person physically, emotionally, or both. Don’t underestimate your value in the relationship.
What’s the Takeaway?
Ultimately, everybody’s journey to sobriety is different. On the one hand, there are several good reasons why you could go back home after treatment. On the other hand, there are plenty of practical reasons to stay away. You know yourself best and probably have more than a slight inkling of how you will react when you go home. You should discuss this in-depth with your therapist while still in treatment or speak to your sponsor or support group friends about whether you are in continuing care for a time before making the decision. Ultimately, the goal is long-term sobriety and the least risk of relapse. The way you believe that is best achieved is the right way to proceed. Just remember that everyone will give you a different answer to this question. Some will speak from experience, and some will offer their theories. However, ultimately, you must take responsibility for the decision because you are the only one with the full picture. Trust yourself, decide unemotionally and selfishly, and live your best life.
Of course, The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center is there to help with any hiccups on the road. As a leading Florida mental health primary facility, we work with patients around the state and the country to prepare them for the difficult decisions they will face later in life. Our comprehensive family and aftercare programs double down on the philosophy of individual care that we espouse in treatment, and we are always here as a resource for our patients when they need us.