Life Immediately After Treatment

Nobody is truly “prepared” for recovery. Something changes and, the next thing you know, you’re sober.

Getting clean and sober is often not the hard part of recovery; the real challenge comes from merging your past and present into a healthy future.

I made a choice to walk away from drugs and alcohol. They had a hold on me that kept me from being the man I felt destined to be. Once I made that choice, I didn’t want to look back. If I wanted to move forward, my past would have to be part of my present.

I remember walking out of rehab and being confronted by a mix of emotions that can only be compared to those that might accompany leaving jail.

Suddenly, I realized how many things I had to re-learn or re-establish in my life. Some were exciting; some were overwhelming.

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Four Things I Had To Do Post-Rehab

Create A New Routine.

I had a routine while in treatment. I knew when to wake up, when to eat, and where to go. I had direction in my life for the first time in a long time. However, most of that direction came from someone else. Suddenly, I realized my day-to-day routine was up to me to create and follow.

Understand This Big, Exciting World.

Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but everything in the world just seemed bigger and more amazing when I got out. Like a puppy playing in snow for the first time, I needed to understand this big and “new” world.

Remove Toxic Influences.

It was on me to make the changes in my life moving forward. I had to be conscious of the life I wanted to live; nobody could remove the negative people, places, and things but me.

Confront My Past.

Exiting the safety of recovery meant coming home to damage I’d caused, bills I’d yet to pay, and angry voicemails and prescriptions ready for pick up that I’d yet to address.

Looking Back, Moving Forward

Of all of these feelings, the emotions associated with confronting the past were the hardest to bear; they were the especially hard in the first week. It was like all the mayhem that I’d caused over the past few years had piled up like a landfill at my doorstep.

The first thing I did was to make an effort to remove any stumbling blocks from my path. I went to pharmacies and reported myself as in recovery, asking them to please cancel or invalidate my prescriptions. I called my doctors to let them know what had happened and to immediately identify myself as an addict in recovery. I told on myself at every turn, but I didn’t want to shame myself. I wanted to protect myself.

I’m allergic to drugs and alcohol, they make me break out in handcuffs.

- Robert Downey Jr.

To this very day (almost 11 years later), I still tell doctors of every kind that I’m “allergic” to all mind- and mood-altering substances. But this pattern of getting out in front of my demons was crucial to not being put into situations that would risk my sobriety.

I took on the 90/90 plan, traveling all around Orlando to visit 90 AA/NA meetings in 90 days. Regardless of your thoughts on the 12-step programs, this kept me in reality. I was constantly grateful for sobriety but also very aware of my own capacity for self-destruction.

Recovery has been the best life I could ever dream of. But it wasn’t easy. It took legwork, and it begins at the beginning.

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