26 Feb What to Expect Your First 90 Days After Treatment
The first few months after treatment for substance use disorder may be the most challenging phase of your recovery journey. You are experiencing physiological and psychological effects of withdrawal while also adjusting to a new life. At the same time, you are no longer in the structured environment that in-patient treatment provided, and you’re still learning how to apply the new recovery strategies you have learned.
This is also a crucial time because relapse is more likely to occur in the early stages of recovery, yet you are still building resiliency. Understanding what may jeopardize your progress during this time can help you cope.
Some of the things to expect in your first 90 days after treatment include:
Change in routine: If you are returning home to family members, their routines will affect yours. Have an open conversation with your partner and others so they can better understand your needs at this crucial stage.
You’re not ready yet to take on some of the family responsibilities. Your primary focus should be on setting yourself up for success — healing not only your body but also your mind and spirit.
Depression and mood swings: Your brain chemistry was altered by addiction, and an emotional roller-coaster is typical during early recovery. To make matters worse, you may be learning for the first time how to deal with strong emotions. Some of the common things you may experience include:
- Poor sleep patterns such as insomnia
- Irritability and anxiety
- Physical and emotional fatigue
- Cognition issues
High stress: While you’re going through healing, you are also facing many new responsibilities. They may range from finding a new job to looking for stable housing. This would be stressful for even a healthy person, but even more so for someone undergoing a major life change. On top of that, the biological changes can also enhance your stress levels.
Triggers: In the early stages of abstinence, you are still learning to identify your triggers, whether that’s people, places, smells, memories and so on. Triggers can’t be avoided but until you understand them, you’ll need to limit your exposure to new experiences and unfamiliar situations.
Cravings: Expect to continue experiencing cravings for some time. Certain high-risk situations and social interactions can also enhance your cravings and act as triggers.
Strategies for coping in early recovery
In treatment, you would have gained tools to help you maintain long-term recovery. It’s important to continue building onto these tools and learning strategies for more complex situations.
- Get professional help: This should be a priority because your counselor will help you to work through the challenges of your early recovery and to stay on track.
- Establish a daily routine: A chaotic environment and spontaneous schedule is not conducive to recovery. You’ll need a regular schedule to create healthy habits, including regular wake-up, meal and sleep times.
- Learn the signs of relapse: Work with your counselor to understand your triggers as well as recognize your relapse signs, along with strategies to avoid them.
- Attend support meetings: Recovery meetings can help you build a support system as well as provide accountability. Make the time to attend them regularly.
- Establish medical care: Substance use often leads to medical problems, including chronic health conditions. Self-care is essential to your recovery, and your physician can provide guidance for establishing healthy habits as well as identify any medical issues that need attention.
- Keep a daily gratitude journal: Gratitude has proven wellness benefits. As you recover, it’s important to appreciate all the things that are good and positive in your life. A gratitude journal will uplift you as you reflect on the moments that bring you joy.
- Set goals: As with any new journeys in life, success depends on knowing where you want to be and setting goals for getting there. Use goal setting to look forward rather than backward to your past, as well as to bring new hope into your life.