Once you’ve gotten through the first steps in addiction treatment – that is, getting through detox and stabilizing in recovery through therapeutic interventions – it is time to transition back home, or to a new home, and begin the process of building a new life in recovery. This encompasses so many different paths of action that it can initially feel like there is nothing to do and nowhere specific to go. If unchecked, this “wide open” feeling can be a trigger for relapse, causing you to turn to the old habits that are familiar rather than seeking out new things that may be uncomfortable.
Setting goals in recovery helps you to chart your course, head solidly in one direction, and stay sober along the way. Here are some goals that can help you to improve your ability to progress in recovery and improve your quality of life at the same time.
Create a Treatment Goal
What is presenting the greatest obstacle to you in sobriety? Is there a past trauma that is making it difficult to move forward or focus on the present? Are you dealing with certain emotions, anxieties, or other issues that make it hard to imagine a life without drugs? Are there specific relationships that are causing you more harm than good?
Addiction therapy should continue for years after you leave an intensive outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment program, and in therapy, it is a good idea for you to have a focus, or a goal, to define your treatment plan. Discuss this with your therapist, making a list of all the things that are potential goals for your treatment, and then check in regularly to see how you are progressing and if changes need to be made. Once a goal is achieved, it is a good idea to create a new treatment goal – and then another and another – as you grow and thrive in recovery.
It may seem disconnected from addiction recovery, but your physical health directly contributes to your ability to be mentally and emotionally balanced. This means creating new habits and building a structure into your day-to-day life that is sustainable. This can mean:
- Focusing on positive sleep hygien
- Eating healthfully throughout the day
- Addressing underlying or chronic medical ailments
- Working out regularly, getting both weight-bearing exercises and cardiovascular activity into your week
Focus on Your Finances
Financial issues are always in sharp focus in recovery. Addiction often means debt or bankruptcy, and treatment can contribute to the debt owed. In recovery, with a gap in work history at best and a destroyed career in the immediate past at worst, it can be difficult to gain financial traction.
Difficult – but not impossible. If your finances are causing you stress, you can begin the process of righting the ship by:
- Creating a budget for yourself based on your expenses and your income
- Cutting back on your expenditures by carefully tracking every dollar you spend
- Creating a plan to put aside a small emergency fund and then turning your attention to paying off the debts you owe from smallest to largest
- Beginning the process of saving money so you can have choices in the direction your life takes next
Go Back to School
If you would like to expand your job opportunities or if there is an area of study that is calling to you, then going back to school to earn a certification, learn a new skill, or get your degree is a great goal for recovery. Just make sure that:
- You do not go heavily into debt in order to go to school as this causes more problems later.
- Your studies are not so difficult that you are stressed by the fear of failure.
- You do not take on so many classes that you are unable to continue having a healthy focus on recovery.
- You take a few classes to determine whether or not you are genuinely interested in the field of study as a career before diving in head first.
Work with a Life Coach
If you are unsure which way to turn when it comes to creating goals in recovery, consider working with a life coach. A life coach can help you determine what your greatest challenges are, what hopes you have for yourself and your life, and the best course of action to improve your life that is within your grasp right now. Additionally, a life coach will actively assist you in the process of embarking on the first steps toward your goal and check in with you regularly to help you assess whether or not your chosen goal is working for you.
What goals will you put into place this summer to help you move forward in recovery and improve your quality of life?