Life after jail or rehab requires vigilance. In both of these there is a certain amount of security in that all of your decisions are made for you. What you eat, what you do all day is planned for you. In prison even your clothes are chosen for you. The only decision that is required of you is to do as you’re told. You have no bills to pay; you are given food and a bed. In rehab there is often an actual schedule to follow. There is little contact with the outside world except for the occasional phone call. I have never been to jail but I have been in rehabs a few times and getting out poses a threat to sobriety almost immediately.
When you get in a car to leave jail or rehab, you are hit with the busyness of life at once. All the traffic and movement is an assault to your senses. There is usually someone who has picked you up and suddenly the talk is of life not the sameness of institutional talk. You are now in charge of what and when you eat and when you sleep. You went from making few decisions to making hundreds of little decisions and it can be stress-producing. Most likely you had left many hurt people behind. Chances are good your life was a mess when you entered rehab or jail and it hasn’t gone away. If you are fortunate to have people waiting who care for you they may try to “give you a break” when you first get out, however they are still hurt and that hurt will show itself pretty quickly.
One of the first things most of us have to do is to secure employment. If you are getting out of jail then you have a record which can be easily discovered by a simple back ground check. Once you have found a job, then you are dealing with all kinds of people some nice and some not so nice. You are suddenly having to budget money to have a roof over your head and in some cases you have back bills that come back to haunt you.
From the moment you leave the institutional life behind, you must be vigilant. Attending meetings for substance abuse is paramount. You need people who will support you not enable you. Chances are that as these stresses mount your addiction will begin to work on you. You know that the drug or the drink will help at first with the stresses. You must resist and do all you can to not take that road again. It is important to take advantage of all the programs out there whether you want to or not. I strongly suggest that the day you get out that you attend an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Reach out for help at that meeting even though you are nervous. Put sobriety first!