Mental Health

What Comes Next After Addiction Recovery?

This question can leave many addicts in the process of getting sober perplexed.  If you are asking yourself, “what’s next?”, then you are asking the right questions.  Recovery is an ongoing and strenuous process that may never have a clear end-point for you.  That’s okay.  Most recovering alcoholics and recovering drug addicts see sobriety as a new way of life opposed to a race with a defined finish.

Family and Relationships

Though everyone will have a different path and a separate journey for themselves, there are usually some commonalities between everyone.  One of the frequent objectives can be to rebuild previous relationships that were hurt due to alcoholism and drug abuse.  Whether it be parents that were lied to, siblings that were stolen from, or a loved one who had their heart broken – each can usually be repaired with an honest desire to make things right again, though it may take some work and time.  As Recovery in Motion states, “Unfortunately, addiction is never really just an individual’s problem. Addiction is related to the entire family dynamic and has far-reaching effects on the entire family’s lives.”  Trust cannot be bought simply by paying someone back and typically will require action on the recoveree’s part over time to earn that trust and mend relationships.  Most addicts have attempted quitting in the past and, after each failed attempt, the sincerest promises will hold less and less weight.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about what it would take for you to forgive that someone had the roles been flipped and you were the one lied to, stolen from, or hurt.

Finances

Anyone who previous experienced a substance abuse disorder will almost always have some consequential form of financial hardship.  The causes can include borrowing money from friends, defaulting on a loan, court sanctioned fines and restitution, costs of treatment, draining a savings account, or pulling from a retirement fund early.  This list can be extended on and on depending on the lifespan of one’s addiction and poses a major obstacle when rebuilding.  As Kai Stinchcombe, CEO of True Link Financial mentions“Having no safe, dignified way to pay for basic items makes it harder to build yourself a new life. Recovery is not just tough physically, mentally, and spiritually. There are financial barriers in place that make it harder to build yourself a new life.”  This can be especially true if your credit score has suffered as a result of addiction or alcoholism.  Try focusing on each individual debt one at a time as attempting to repay everything back at once could put you in a worse financial situation and may discourage you if you don’t feel like you are making any progress.  Prioritize each one as well.  For example, focus on any payments ordered by the court like fees and alimony or payments due to the IRS as failure to repay these could have severe consequences.  Next, focus on paying off debt that has the highest interest rate first and continue down the list.

 

Education and Careers

Some people are fortunate enough to have maintained a career or continued through school even during their addiction.  However, this isn’t the case with most people suffering from substance abuse disorder and they will now need to start on the arduous task of finding another job or re-enrolling back into school.The Washington Post says that “nine out of 10 employers screen applicants with background checks” which can make it very difficult if you have a criminal history.  Some employers even require a credit check depending on the type of position.  The best recommendation is to be honest when applying for a new position with any company.  In most cases, this will give you the opportunity to explain in better detail what happened and how you have changed or learned from that experience.  On the ladder, the cost of school has been increasing year over year making it very difficult to acquire a college education even without any history of drug abuse.  According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average cost of a four-year degree is around $39,529 dollars in 2015 to 2016.  This can be another huge hurdle to overcome when trying to rebuild your life and getting back to a stable place in society.  Some people have found it easier to take only one, two, or three classes a semester until their situation has improved.  Also, scholarships can be found specifically for individuals with a criminal background or history of substance abuse.

Life in Recovery

Remember, there are many resources available when starting a life without drugs and alcohol and usually just requires some research.  Relax and don’t rush yourself as everything can be accomplished but more often than not, won’t happen overnight.  Set goals for yourself and continue to work for them every day, payback debt every paycheck even if it’s only a small amount to the total balance owed, look for websites specifically designed around hiring felons, research grants and scholarships to get back into school, and never shy away from asking for help or advice from anyone with experience related to your current goal or task.  It’s a new world full of opportunity so don’t let the seemingly overwhelming obstacles impede you from doing what you got sober to do, live life to it’s fullest.