As recovering addicts, we tend to face some unique hurdles post-rehab. For example, most of us deal with varying levels of social anxiety along with a desperate need for life to get back to normal.
The problem is that we have no idea what “normal” is supposed to look or feel like without drugs or alcohol.
Welcome to the Unknown
While in treatment, your counselors will work with you to develop an aftercare plan. This unique plan will serve as a “go-to guide” to help you navigate the daily ups and downs of life while adjusting to sober life. Think of your aftercare plan as the ultimate survival tool.
Once home, a certain amount of anxiety is to be expected – and that’s perfectly normal. You are beginning a new life, so you’d naturally feel a little unsure and lacking in the confidence department. In these moments, the tools you learned in rehab will become invaluable. They’ll not only help you recognize triggers and stressors, they’ll also help you work through the feelings of social anxiety.
Embracing an Aftercare Plan
Simply put; having patience with yourself is the name of the game post-rehab. You don’t know how you are going to feel or react to things in the early stages of recovery. And fear of the unknown can quickly compound, leaving you consumed with social anxieties and ready to shut out the rest of the world.
Things that never used to bother you or make you self-conscious may have a very adverse affect on you once in recovery. Someone may innocently say something to you during a conversation that puts you into an emotional tailspin before you even realize what happened.
Tips for Avoiding Social Anxiety
Here are some valuable tips to help you keep the level of social anxiety to a minimum and ensure your sobriety plan remains intact.
One day at a time: It’s important that you do not rush yourself; it’s too easy to fall into old habits and heighten the risk of relapse. As cliché as it may sound, you really have to take things slowly. Drugs and alcohol suppress your emotions and feelings, so it’s hard to predict how you will react to specific situations or conversations.
Keep your circle small at first: Don’t surround yourself with crowds of people on your first night home. Even though your family and loved ones have the best intentions, a big welcome home party may not be the best idea for your situation or frame of mind. You may not even realize how large crowds affect you…until you are in the moment and suddenly experience symptoms of a panic attack. Don’t overwhelm yourself; the risks just aren’t worth it.
Relax and enjoy each moment: Although it can feel like everyone’s looking at you or whispering about your while you stand in line at the grocery store, these are just racing thoughts that accompany social anxiety. You don’t have “I’m an addict” stamped across your forehead in big red letters.
Reveal what you’re comfortable with: The truth is that people only know what you choose to tell them about your situation. If you have close friends that you’re comfortable confiding in, tell them as much as you are comfortable with telling them about your recovery. You don’t have to spill your life story to anyone if you don’t feel like it. It’s up to you and you’re in control.
Additional Reading: Recovery Roadblocks: The Addict’s Art of Self-Sabotage