Being the alumni of a treatment program is something to be proud of. You’ve made it through the ropes – you’ve spent time on your recovery, and you’re now in a position to help others, too. It’s exciting to be able to say that you now have a better understanding of addiction, and you have practiced the tools you’ve learned enough to where you’re feeling pretty balanced in your recovery right now. There is so much hope for those who have completed their program, as a new leaf has been turned. As it was once said, “Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand-new ending.”
You’ve Gained So Much So Far
Your program has provided you with so many tools to succeed. In early 2018, researchers published a study in the journal Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly to find out the overall characteristics of alumni from treatment programs. Many had attended 12-step programs, as well as therapy. Eighty-eight participants provided information about their current status having been out of treatment, and they recalled so many benefits they received from their treatment up until that point:
- Most felt that their program helped prepare them for their professional environment
- 80% felt that their program adequately prepared them for recovery-life after treatment
- 90% stated that their program helped them academically
- 81% of participants also stayed in contact with people from their program
Many of the alumni reported higher quality of life (QOL) scores, especially in the physical and environmental domain. The psychological aspect of their life didn’t score as high; as someone who has worked diligently towards their mental, physical, and spiritual health, you’re probably aware that the journey to recovery isn’t over – in fact, it’s a lifelong one. We can’t always predict the challenges that will come our way, and there are always new lessons to be learned. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions may still appear from day to day, even after we’ve spent much time working to reduce our symptoms. This is why it’s so important to continue taking steps towards maintaining recovery, even after our formal rehabilitation is over.
Maintaining Your Recovery
There are 5 key components that every alumnus needs, no matter where they’re at in their journey to recovery:
- Maintain Support – continue attending alumni support groups or other self-help groups to keep your mindset fresh in your recovery goals. Stay in touch with the leaders you’ve met during your program and make new connections as you continue to attend social events.
- Stay Involved – don’t just fade away from the recovery scene. Become a leader in your area. Find ways to step up and share your experiences with others. Develop a program. This will only continue to reinforce your recovery journey.
- Give Back – donate your time, energy, and money to helping others recover. Your story is a powerful one – share it. One of the main principles of Twelve Step programs is to give back, and it’s a beautiful way to continue adding fulfillment to your life.
- Activities – engage in activities that stimulate your mind, body, and spirit. Find creative exercises to get involved in. Try new things. Explore. Stay curious. Recovery is meant to be a journey of connecting with yourself, others, the world, and God (or a Higher Power). Embrace that through living your life fully.
- Structure – no matter how confident you feel in your recovery, always maintain that structure that you established during your rehabilitation program. Set yourself a schedule and plan out your activities. This will help keep you grounded, no matter what arises throughout the day.
This past year, a researcher from the University of Pennsylvania published an article titled, “Making the Hard Work of Recovery More Attractive for those with Substance Use Disorders”. He mentioned the fact that because addiction stimulates the reward center in our brain, it causes us to become less stimulated by what are naturally pleasant events otherwise. Recovery is about building that reward processing back up – to feel excited and complete over the small things in life. This is where other tools come in.
Your Tool Kit
Continue to practice mindfulness, as this is what will help you create meaningful moments that will give you lasting memories. Look around you, and key into your surroundings. Tune into your mind and body and recognize signs that you need some self-care. Spent a little time each day doing something that makes you feel completely elated and fulfilled, whether it’s reading a good book, starting up an exciting project, spending time with family, or going for a walk with your pet.
Eat healthy foods, as this will help curb cravings for sugar and other things. Get a gym membership if you can, or at least go for a few short walks a day. Exercise is going to help keep your mind, body, and spirit physically fit, which means you’ll be able to think more efficiently no matter what comes your way. Lastly, have faith. Keep that connection with God or a Higher Power and build it over time. Find others who can share your journey with you and be excited for your accomplishments. Even on your bad days, remember the good. Always remember the hard work you’ve put into this, because you’ve come a long way. Never give up.
Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-campus, we are made up of 2 twelve-step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers, and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.
Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.