It’s normal to feel apprehensive about going home after treatment. You’ve put in the work to get clean, but it seems like it may be a lot harder to stay that way once your immediate surroundings aren’t as controlled.
When you head back to your normal life, you’ll be regaining the free will you’ve been lacking in rehab. That freedom can be a double-edged sword.
If you’re fearful of relapsing once you go home, know that you aren’t the only one. Likewise, it’s a valid concern, as 40-60 percent of people do relapse, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Thankfully, there are safeguards you can take to lower the likelihood of relapse.
What is a sober companion?
A sober companion can accompany you home to take some of the fear out of adjusting to life outside of rehab. Many companions start out in rehab with the recovering addict. This is a great time to establish a solid relationship between both parties. A recovering individual needs to feel like he can trust and rely on his sober companion.
In some instances, companions also act as sober escorts. This can come in handy as an extension of regular companion services. For instance, if you’ve just come home from a few months in treatment for alcoholism, you will likely have several outpatient and follow-up therapy appointments throughout the week that you need to attend. A sober escort can be by your side as you travel to and from these appointments. On the way to a support group meeting, you may feel unnerved and have urges to stop and have a drink to take the edge off your mood, but it’s unlikely you’ll actually do this with a sober escort by your side. The same goes for the trip home when you may be feeling a little deflated after realizing a friend you made during treatment had relapsed or failed to show up for the meeting.
Of course, it isn’t a requirement that sober companions move in with you and supervise your every move. Many can be there to support you on an as-needed basis. Sober companions come in many different forms. Some are fans of newer therapy modules, like practicing mindfulness, while others prefer more traditional concepts, such as following the 12-step program as outlined by organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Who needs a sober companion?
Whether or not you need a sober companion is a decision only you can make. That being said, your therapist or other professionals overseeing your care may recommend a sober companion to you. If they do, it would be wise to take that advice into consideration. If there are issues beyond substance abuse that may compound your situation, a sober companion can help to keep you on the right path. They commonly assist addicts in recovery who are also adjusting to life after a mental health diagnosis. About half of people with mental illness abuse alcohol or other substances, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
If you are returning home after treatment to a loved one in your home who still abuses drugs or alcohol, a live-in sober companion is a necessity.
It simply isn’t realistic to assume you can live in an environment where drugs and alcohol are abused and remain clean yourself. No matter strong you feel when you leave rehab, the added protection of a sober companion is worth your time, considering how much effort you’ve put in to getting clean in the first place.
What to expect
More often than not, sober companions know how to keep you on the recovery path because they’ve been where you are. Many are in recovery from addiction themselves. Sober companions are often compared to sponsors, and they do have many similarities. However, a sponsor is more akin to a close friend that you can call anytime, day or night, when you need some encouragement. A sober companion does a lot more than that; hence why they come at a cost. The price of these services can run more than $1,000 a day, per The New York Times.
A good sober companion will:
- Remove drugs and alcohol from your home environment
- Keep watch over you during recovery for behaviors that seem out of the ordinary
- Encourage you to take advantage of the healthy habits you learned in treatment
- Monitor whom you associate with
- Help you bond and reconnect with family and loved ones
Recovering from addiction involves more than just detoxing and going home. You have to dig deep to find out why you chose a life of substance abuse and to learn how to avoid making the same poor choices in the future. Going home is a big adjustment that comes with the responsibility of making major changes in your life.
Sticking to a regular exercise routine and eating well are great starting points, and these are aspects of life that a sober companion can help you with. In tough times, a reminder to practice meditation or yoga can help to diffuse stress and strengthen recovery. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, only 9 percent of substance abusers who practiced meditation has returned to drug or alcohol abuse a year later, compared to 14 percent of individuals who just used a 12-step program and 17 percent who adhered to a traditional treatment program. Sometimes these little nudges to continue practicing such techniques are what many recovering addicts need to stay on track.
You’re also going to have to make some changes to your social environment. It’s likely that you may have had many friends and acquaintances who also abused drugs or alcohol before you sought help. Sometimes recovery can be such an overwhelmingly fulfilling process that addicts forget about what everyone else is doing back home. Unfortunately, many of your old pals are still up to their same bad habits. To remain abstinent from substance abuse, you cannot interact with other substance abusers. If it’s a friend, a lover, or even a parent, you must take the care that is required to help yourself first and steer clear of anyone engaging in such behaviors.
Sober companions can also act as a facilitator to get you back in the good graces of those you love most. Perhaps you burned a few bridges and hurt some feelings on your path to self-discovery in treatment. The new you might feel remorseful and truly sorry for the things you’ve done in the past, but you may not know how to express those feelings well or cope with your own emotions when confronted by family and friends. A sober companion can help you to cope in a healthy way.