As you prepared to leave treatment and implement the recovery tactics you have learned into your outside life, you likely developed an exit plan. An exit plan typically reviews the practices you are going to continue using, especially prevention strategies to avoid a relapse. Although making these plans is a necessary step upon completion of treatment, they are not always perfect and may need to be revised.

Exit Plan Example

An exit plan is similar to an emergency plan. Think of a school and its emergency evacuation procedure for a fire. Schools often dedicate multiple days a year to practice this evacuation so that all staff members and students are aware of the procedure.

Unfortunately, situations can arise that a procedure may not take into account. For example, say your school chooses to go to the field outside of the school during the fire. If the fire were to occur in the building and spread onto the field, the school would soon discover there were issues with the evacuation plan and chose to meet at a business next door in the future.

This example may be extreme; however, it provides a great example of the chaos that can follow from a plan that is not well suited to the individuals or situation. If you find that a part of your recovery plan is not working out and leading to potential issues, it is okay to adjust it to ensure you have a plan that is effective for you.

Potential Issues

As you may have learned by working through transitional programs or implementing the recovery skills you have gained into your everyday life, the act of transitioning is rarely a simple process. Your exit plan likely outlines important focal points of your recovery journey, but you may find that your plan is missing something to help you adjust to the real world.

You and your recovery team can make a strong attempt to account for potential issues that will arise. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict the future. Some individuals find that within a few days after leaving treatment, they are presented with a scenario they are unsure how to handle. These occurrences can be overwhelming and cause you to feel that you have not progressed as much as you originally thought. However, this is not the case. By focusing on strategy, you can handle situations you did not expect to face.

Focus on Strategy

It is simply impossible to prepare for every future scenario that could occur. However, you can be adaptive with the skills you have learned so that, no matter what unusual situation you face, you can handle it well.

To be ready and adaptable, focus your exit plan on the strategies you will use more than the potential scenarios that will occur. This will lower the shock you experience as you face a situation you did not expect. Working on this focus can prepare you to use your skills in areas beyond the maintenance of sobriety.

If you find aspects of your exit plan that need to be adjusted to better support you, you can contact your treatment team or support system and make the necessary adjustments. Remember, just like your brain, your exit plan is adaptable to new situations.

Discover What’s Not Working

There are basic practices that can be utilized in almost any exit plan. For example, leaving the situation if you feel unable to manage your sobriety in your surroundings, having a safe place to go, and building a strong support system are three core strategies of any exit plan.

As you begin life outside of treatment, you likely will come across a skill that you use more than anticipated or a skill you focused on deeply that is not used as much as you thought. That is okay. You may also discover that your safe place is not always a safe environment for you when trying to maintain your sobriety. If this is the case, try implementing a new place that you can safely go to, especially if you need to escape a situation.

Some individuals find that their support system is codependent or simply not there for them as much as they had hoped. Using the skills you learned throughout recovery, you can examine your social circle and work toward making healthy relationships that support your needs. If your support circle needs to be adjusted, try to make those adjustments in a healthy way and remember the value of healthy relationships. Do not settle for long-term isolation.

By observing aspects of your recovery plan that are not working to your long-term benefit, you can discover what you need to focus on. If you find a large piece missing from your exit plan, that is likely an aspect of your life that you have been neglecting. Focusing on strategies that specifically improve those situations and strengthening that part of your exit plan can set you up for a successful sober future.

Reaching the point of creating an exit plan is an exciting milestone that should be celebrated. As you create a plan to help you maintain sobriety in the real world, you begin to work through a new transitional phase. While you and your treatment team can attempt to cover many potential scenarios in your exit plan, these plans are not always perfect. As you begin to adapt to your life outside of treatment, you may find aspects of your exit plan that are not benefiting you in the way you had hoped. If this happens, work to discover what aspects need to be changed or addressed in ways that would help you. You can contact your treatment team to help you adjust your plan. Focus on the skills you have gained and work to adapt them to different situations. For more information, contact Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.

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