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Feeling Burdened After Leaving Treatment and Relapse

Leaving treatment can be scary as you face new and old challenges. There will be people who may judge you for having to be in treatment and some who will believe you have not changed. These challenges will feel especially burdensome as you attempt to navigate your life beyond treatment.

Some things to remember are that you are not alone, and you have the capacity to cope. Relapse does not have to happen. Leaning on your peer support system and the alumni program, which we offer at The Guest House, will help you find a way to cope with these new burdens.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

Relapse can happen for a variety of reasons, but it most often occurs when you are unprepared for challenging situations. Situations may include encountering stigma about being in treatment, having to face people who do not accept you have changed, and experiencing emotions you may not have felt for a while.

Stigma Comes in Many Forms

Facing stigma can be demoralizing. You have focused on and worked on yourself. You worked hard to overcome challenges. However, some people will only see that you were in treatment; they may ask where you have been and have inappropriate responses. Remember: you did not enter treatment to make them happy; you sought treatment to save yourself and improve your life. You cannot control their responses, but you must control your own. Continue to love yourself.

Stigma can also come from within you. The people you know are not the only ones struggling with a judgmental attitude. Judgment can be internal too. Self-compassion and recognizing your intrinsic value will help you battle the internal stigma. You must press on and continue on your path toward well-being. Again, you entered treatment to save your life. Obviously, you are meant to be here, and treatment was a part of the process. Do not be unkind toward yourself for doing what was best for you.

Stigma can create a risk for relapse as it is an unnecessary burden faced by many who enter treatment. Leaving treatment is difficult enough when you have grown attached to people and the stability and safety of that haven. Leaving and facing the world might make you more prone to relapse because of the stigma from which you were shielded while in treatment. You deserved treatment, and you deserve to feel good about yourself for taking steps to change your life.

People May Not Believe You Changed

Exiting treatment is an opportunity to be a new person and engage with the world in a new way. You have new skills, new patterns, and a new support system to adapt to your life. At The Guest House, we helped you move into new behaviors through our multiple programming options, but when you leave, your ability to cope is up to you. We know you can, but there will be people in your daily life who may treat you like your old self and expect you to use your previous maladaptive coping strategies.

People may invite you into triggering situations. There may be more peer pressure. They may attempt to “push your buttons” to get a response. Avoiding people, places, and things that can make you more likely to relapse is critical to your recovery when you leave treatment.

You can decrease your chances of relapse by attending support group meetings and seeking out support from friends and family. Peer support from people who have been in your shoes can be of tremendous help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) outlines the importance of peer support in an infographic available on their site. Do not hesitate to ask for help, either through attendance at a meeting or by contacting the alumni program at The Guest House. You can achieve wellness and avoid relapse when you ask for help.

Experiencing Old Emotions

Emotions can be triggering for many people. While in treatment, you were in a safe place and had readily available support to deal with all your emotions. When you leave the safety of treatment, you must deal with the burden of those emotions on your own. The risk of relapse is higher if you do not use appropriate coping skills.

You will always have to deal with your emotions; they follow you wherever you go. According to an article in the journal Substance Abuse Prevention and Policy, emotional states can significantly impact a person’s recovery process. Both positive and negative emotions play a role in one’s potential for relapse. Managing emotions is critical to understanding your triggers and being successful in your recovery.

Leaving Treatment Does Not Have to Result in Relapse

Leaving treatment can feel overwhelming but does not have to result in relapse. Remembering the coping skills you learned in treatment will help you on your road to long-term recovery, whether it be for trauma, mental health conditions, and/or addiction to problematic substances or behaviors.

Life beyond treatment is possible. Believe in yourself and practice compassion as you pursue the life you desire for yourself.

Achieving a healthy and fulfilling life after treatment takes a great deal of effort as you learn to battle the burdens of the world and the burden of having been in treatment, which may be stigmatizing. Self-compassion is key. Preparing for life after treatment is a part of treatment, but the experience may still be overwhelming. At The Guest House, we offer a variety of programming and options for those who have completed our residential and day/night programs. We offer outpatient services and encourage our clients to become a part of our alumni program, which will continue to offer you the support you may need. If you need support for trauma recovery, mental health conditions, and/or addiction to alcohol or other substances or behaviors, we are here to help. Contact us at Guest House at (855) 483-7800 and learn how we can help you live your best life.