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Sober and Home for the First Time Since Rehab

Recently I just made a trip back home to see my family in London for the first time in six months. For the last six months I had been in some form of an addiction treatment center, either in primary care, secondary care or sober living. I had seen my parents in that time at family programs but under the supervision and monitoring of the clinical staff running those programs. This trip was, therefore, my first real time with my family and my first time home since I had been to treatment.

I was, ‘appropriately’ nervous and apprehensive for my trip home. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from my family and friends when I saw them and I had no idea how my subconscious would react to being back in my old ‘stomping grounds’ so to speak. Would I be accepted by my old friends without drinking? How would my relationship be with my family, would they trust me or would I go back to the stressed and worry filled relationship I had with them before I left to Los Angeles?  Was I going to be tempted to relapse? These are just a few of the questions I asked myself on the way to the airport. I had spent the two weeks prior going over my plan with my case manager on what to do if I found myself struggling at home.

When I got back to London I found that I was probably overly anxious about my trip. It did in fact go much smoother than I could have expected. My mother had seen ‘clips’ of my progression to recovery through the family programs.   When she saw me again it was like we had gone back to before I delved into drugs and alcohol. Our communication was better and more frequent than it had been in years. We didn’t have any arguments or big issues come up like we used to when I was high or drunk.  I didn’t feel as anxious as I thought I would in her presence prior to rehab.

My sister and I had never really had a ‘solid’ relationship for as long as I can remember. However we hung out almost every other day while in London and we got along better than ever, I found we had shared interests in common such as going to antique markets. We went out for dinner and I can honestly say I enjoyed her presence, which was an entirely new experience for me.

My father and I went through a rough patch when I was in my active addiction. Since then we have been mending our relationship, slowly but surely. We met up a few times and went to the theatre. Our relationship has improved dramatically since I have been sober. There is still an air of tension whenever we meet up due to some personal issues not wholly relevant to this but what is important is that through sobriety and recovery our relationship has improved.

Going home for the first time since going to rehab was a very positive experience for me and my family.  I did have to make sure I didn’t get wrapped up in all the family squabbles that were occurring around me that didn’t necessarily involve me. I kept conversations light and remembered not to expect them to have changed since I left; even though I had. When meeting family members who I had shaky relationships with in the past I made sure it was a meal or something out of the house where if things got uncomfortable I could have left and gone home or to a meeting.

I was happily surprised to find that I was not one bit tempted to relapse throughout my entire time home. I admit I went against the advisement of my case manager and went clubbing and to bars virtually every night while I was home. However, I did not relapse. I accidentally drank vodka when given vodka/red bull having ordered just red bull. This would have, I expected, been enough to send me spiraling. Instead I sent the drink back, stayed out for another few hours then went to bed. I did feel as if there was something ‘alien’ inside me and it made me slightly tenser for that evening but I felt back to normal the next day.

My friends I saw were all very accepting of me being in recovery and did not press me to drink although a few forgot I was sober and offered to buy me a pint. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be holding them back and insisted they drank as they normally would when I wasn’t there. I did notice however that my presence made them think more on themselves. A few started trying to not only understand but even possibly relate to alcoholism and the mental disorders I have.  I think I may have inadvertently made them slightly self-conscious about their drinking and realized the negative effects it could have on someone. It was interesting to notice on how they reacted to me not drinking.  I made sure not to take it personally and realized it was just their way of adjusting to my new lifestyle.

I would advise those about to go home for the first time to make sure they do have a solid plan for each day and not be lounging around with too much down time. I went to a few meetings and probably should have gone to more.  Going to meetings should definitely be a part of your daily routine if you are visiting home. When dealing with rebuilding relationships with friends and family everyone is going to have their own experience, I just hope it’s as positive as mine was.

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