Drug rehab is coming to a conclusion. At least the formal part. You or your loved one have come a long way. The work to repair broken relationships has begun. There may even have a sense of wholeness you haven’t felt in years. Nevertheless, there is something else growing: FEAR.
Fear usually comes with questions. What do I do now? How do I maintain my sobriety? What if I relapse? What if I fail?
You need security. Not just today but for years to come.
The ideas in this article are not a substitute for you and your counselor or care team’s plan. It is hopefully a reminder or a place you can come to when you need a reminder. Bookmark it in your browser or read it once and place all of the strategies on your phone. However, you choose to make these choices, they will serve to help secure a successful recovery, not just for you, but for your loved ones as well.
Remember this acronym: ANCHOR! This isn’t an anchor that holds you down or constrains you. It is one that secures you. Secures your freedom and your family. Secures your sobriety and your sanity.
A – Assess
N – Narcotics Anonymous
C – Caring Contacts
H – Home Harbors
O – Outside Activities
R – Rest & Relax
These points, or something like them, should be built by you and your team. Don’t wait until the day the storm is raging. Secure your ANCHOR now. Establish your plan. Here is how:
2. Assess – Make the Hard Decisions NOW
I received a call from an addict who had relapsed and, in this case, violated his parole. He was in jail and as a result of his choices was headed back to prison for a minimum 6-month stay. Feelings of panic were settling in and the fear of ‘being caged’ again was strong. He said, “I don’t know what to do? I don’t know how I even got here?”
I asked, “When did you decide to go to the bar?” He replied, “I was at a stop sign and could have turned left to go home or right to go out. I made a bad decision at the stop sign.” I said, “No, when did you make the bad decision?” He sounded surprised, “It wasn’t at the stop sign?” I simply said, “No.” Then I heard him get it. “I knew when I left work I wasn’t in a good place. The day was stressful, I was tired and I knew that stop sign was coming. I made the bad decision before I ever got there.”
He was absolutely right. We then talked about what he would do every day during his 6 months of incarceration. Visualize turning left. Visualize the messed-up stuff of life and work and family and making the right choices. He wrote down scenarios. He imagined problems with family and friends. The type of problems you can predict in life and then he wrote down what he could turn to rather than drugs.
Over the next 180 days, he visualized, his first day out, over and over again, literally and figuratively turning left at that stop sign. He visualized his first day back at work, then his first Thanksgiving and Christmas. You get the idea. Visualize your stressors, your pressure points now. Choose which ones you will avoid. Make the hard decisions before you get to the stop sign!
3. Narcotics Anonymous
When there is a system created to help people facing your challenges and it is proven: use it! There are no excuses. Find a local or area chapter and get involved. Work the steps! If you can’t go to meetings then use Skype or Zoom. Find a way and make it happen. You need people and they need you. Period.
4. Caring Contacts x 3
Whether you are struggling with chemical dependency, depression, or your loved one is an addict: Stop right now and enter three people in your life you know care about you into your phone. Three people who want to see you living free from your pain or addiction. Now, make them your favorites in your contact list.
Part of your plan must be to have people you can turn to when surprises happen or when you are feeling weak. These are people you can call when you planned for the stop sign but still want to turn right. Whether you get them or their voice mail this is a person whose voice can help you get to healthy places.
It might be your sponsor. Maybe it’s your spiritual leader. Perhaps it is your grandmother or uncle. The qualifications are these: They know your struggle, long for your success, and their voice brings you truth and peace.
5. Home Harbors x 3
Just as there are voices that make our hearts feel at ‘home’, there are places that make us feel like we are home as well. For some, that is a walk in the park. Others find ‘home’ in a library or a church or a museum or the mall. Maybe for you, it’s a garden or, simply, your back porch. The only thing this place can’t be is a place where you will have access to drugs.
Just like we did on contacts, enter these places on your phone in maps. You can have more than three but no less than three. Some might be outdoors but some need to be indoors. At least a couple of options you can rely on even in bad weather. Stop, right now, type in at least three!
6. Outside Interests x 3
Home harbors are places, outside interests are activities. This could be reading, running, cycling, fishing, hiking, movies…you get the idea. It doesn’t mean you have to go outside but these activities should be things that take your mind off the day-to-day grind that creates your stress.
Just as we did before, stop now, write down 3 things you can DO that bring your world to a singular focus or pursuit.
7. Regular Sleep and Rest
This is perhaps the most overlooked strategy to a successful recovery. When athletes are tired and trying to compete at a high level, injuries occur. The same is true for us normal folks. Sleep makes a difference in your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
This is a must in recovery. Studies have shown a 200% increase in relapses for people in recovery who are also having difficulty getting good sleep every night…200%!
This means part of your recovery should include a strategy for good sleep and rest. Substance abuse and sleep disturbance are more closely related than you may think. Talk to your support network or your doctor if you also have trouble sleeping. It is that important!
8. Don’t Let a Relapse Derail Your Recovery
A momentary relapse is not a failed recovery if you have a plan!
Similar to other strategies: when you fail to plan you plan to fail. This is where having your network in place is so vital.
Your plan should include:
Notifying your support network
- Talking about it
- Identifying the precipitating event or thought process
- Plan for similar events with a defined strategy to avoid
- Managing disappointment and expectations
- Reinvesting in NA and the process
- These steps all boil down to securing your ANCHOR.
9. Go Beyond Yourself
This is a great time to volunteer in the right organization or get involved in your faith community. As you are letting go of negative behaviors, it’s can help to replace the negatives with positives.
The process of serving opens our eyes to the imperfections of life. It helps us reset unrealistic expectations and to know that everyone faces challenges! No one’s life is cookie-cutter perfect.
In addition to a better perspective, serving others builds self-esteem, gives us a sense of purpose, and connects us to others who are committed to doing good. The relationships you build serving can often help build your Caring Contacts list (#4).
10. Don’t Overcommit = Set Boundaries
There is a great principle to be embraced by all people who struggle with boundaries, it is called the “Holy No”.
Too often in recovery, we see people with addictive personalities unintentionally abused by their ‘support network’. They are doing better. Everyone wants to hear their story. People want them involved and to stay busy but can’t see there are 10 others who feel the same.
This is where the addict must learn not just “no” but “Holy No”. It is spiritually pure to tell people no sometimes. Really!
Bob Goff is a writer and speaker who lives from a place of joy and believes in spreading joy to every corner of the globe. Part of his ministry is encouraging others to quit something every Thursday. He wrote it this way:
“It’s Thursday. Quit something. Eliminate some of the noise in your life and let your symphony have the stage again!”
Bob Goff – Twitter
You have completed drug rehab. But your new life is just beginning. It can be scary and overwhelming for those in recovery. We encourage you: Hold fast to your ANCHOR. Don’t let the fear of relapse rule your life. Embrace service and offer a “Holy No” when you need to.
The symphony of your life is waiting to begin. It’s not a perfect studio version but a live concert. It is so much better than a factory-produced sound. We can’t wait to hear your song!
If you need someone to discuss any of this with you, we are happy to chat – give us a call at (502) 451-1221.