After spending months or years revolving your life around drinking and drugging, spending time in a rehabilitation facility has helped you get a fresh start. You are probably beginning to understand the nature of alcoholism and addiction. Treatment has separated you from your drug of choice and allowed you to start to get used to living without it. But sooner or later, reality sets in and you have to leave the safe environment of a rehabilitation facility. If you are like many people who are newly sober, you may find that home is one of the most dangerous environments you have to face. Once you’re home, the risk of falling back into old behaviors and patterns is pretty high.
Triggers Begin at Home
There are many possible difficulties that you may have to face once you’re home. Some people live with a spouse or other family member who drinks, or someone who keeps alcohol or other substances in the house. Living with constant temptation will require vigilance and a commitment to staying sober no matter what. You may feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Even if you aren’t living with substances in your home, you may find that friends or family are less than supportive of your efforts to continue to live a sober life. Some may doubt that you can actually stay sober, while others don’t understand that even though you are sober, you aren’t cured. You can’t begin a regimen of controlled drinking and you can’t have just one drink. You may find that no matter how many times you tell them that, they just don’t understand. In your neighborhood, you may run into people who expect you to eventually drink or drug again. You may encounter drug dealers or people you spent time partying with, or you may have to drive by your favorite liquor store or nightclub. Coworkers may expect you to attend events where alcohol is served. People or events may throw you off-balance when you least expect it and trigger the urge to pick up a drink or a drug.
Building a New Life
The best way to deal with triggers is to be prepared to face them. The question isn’t if something or someone will cause you to feel uncomfortable, it’s when. Home may not always feel like a safe place. You are truly powerless over people, places and things. You can’t change the fact that you may live near places that remind you of addictive behavior. You can’t make your spouse or other members of your family refrain from drinking in your presence. You can’t anticipate when you might run into people who remind you of your past or treat you with cynicism or negativity. You can’t avoid every family wedding for the rest of your life. You can’t even avoid seeing drinking and drug abuse on TV or in the movies. What you can do is learn to accept that even though life isn’t always easy, you don’t have to pick up a drink or drug. Just because you feel a desire to pick up doesn’t mean you have to go through with it. Even though it may feel very challenging at first, it will gradually get easier.
You may find that you have to change your circle of friends and replace them with people who either are sober themselves or at least respect your decision to be sober. In time you will build a network of sober friends and a support system. But there are some things you won’t be able to change. For example, you probably won’t be able to change where you live. Some people are tempted to leave everything behind and start over somewhere new. This is known as a geographical cure. It isn’t likely to work. There will be times when you have to face discomfort. But you don’t have to pick up. When you leave a treatment facility, you won’t simply live happily ever after. You will have to remain vigilant of things or people that may cause you to have the urge to drink or drug. It’s a learning process, and it will get easier as long as you stay strong one day at a time.