A Framework for Entering the Real World

Man walking near coast.

A Framework for Entering the Real World

While spending time in a recovery community may foster a supportive network, eventually, you will have to venture out into the real world and put what you’ve learned during treatment to the test. In the real world, you have less control over your environment because fewer rules govern it. 

In a treatment facility or sober living home, mental health professionals can create a structured environment that makes it easy to access the support you need. Likewise, one of the benefits of living among your peers is that they are likely to understand your emotional journey because they are going through a similar one themselves. People in your recovery community are likely to be more sensitive to your emotional needs and trauma triggers. Such communities and facilities are designed to make it easier for you to focus on your sobriety, self-improvement, and emotional management techniques. 

However, in the real world, there will be obstacles that will make it more challenging to focus on your recovery. Such obstacles could include environmental factors and other people not being sensitive to your recovery needs. 

Knowing When You’re Not Ready

You will have to approach the world outside of your recovery community at a certain point in your recovery journey. It’s essential to identify signs that you are or aren’t ready to enter back into the real world. Everyone’s recovery journey is different, so you must look inward before deciding on the right move. It might be tempting to compare yourself to someone newer to the treatment facility or recovery community who seems to be progressing faster than you but be careful not to use this as a measure for yourself. If you are struggling to carry out daily activities in the structured world of a treatment facility or sober community, then you probably aren’t ready to take the next step in your recovery journey.

Knowing When You’re Ready

Even when you are succeeding in treatment and feel comfortable with your routine, the idea of entering the real world may seem overwhelming. You may be afraid that you’ll end up relapsing or finding yourself in a deep depression without the support of the facility. You’ll know when you’re ready because your routine at the facility or sober living community will no longer seem challenging to you. While no test will guarantee your success in the real world, you won’t be able to move forward in your recovery until you try. Sometimes it is necessary to take baby steps instead of throwing yourself into the deep end.

The Benefits of a “Get-Well” Job

A “get-well” job is an excellent first introduction into the real world as a sober person. It allows you to enter the real world without the added pressure of working a high-stress job and playing potential catch up in your career. A “get-well” job does not have the emotional stress or responsibility that some jobs require. 

A “get-well” job might mean taking an entry-level job that you may feel you are overqualified for. However, your job mustn’t cause you to neglect your mental health. A demanding job could drain your physical and emotional energy, leaving you with little energy to continue to work on your mental health and sobriety. When your mental health does not take priority, it is more likely that you will slip back into old habits.

Managing Your Schedule

When you enter the workforce, your schedule will drastically change. While it may seem challenging, you’ll have to maintain healthy habits around your new schedule. This will be an easier task with a “get-well” job because you won’t be dealing with stressful work situations that could drain your mental energy. It’s essential to have the energy and time to practice self-reflection and self-care in your recovery. You’ll also need to practice scheduling and learn what activities and chores you have energy for when working up to 40 hours a week. 

Since you won’t be able to spend the majority of your day in treatment, you might have to find creative ways to practice stress or utilize emotional management tools. With a “get-well” job, you will have the opportunity to check in with yourself and take time off when you feel your mental health is declining. This is a luxury that you wouldn’t have in some work environments.

While entering the real world following treatment can seem scary at first, it’s important to believe in yourself and your ability to face life’s challenges without the use of drugs or alcohol.