For those leaving treatment/correctional institutions
When the time comes to leave treatment, many addicts feel overwhelmed by conflicting
emotions. Fear of returning to active addiction may be foremost. The return to family, job, and
friends may prompt feelings of uncertainty, guilt, or inadequacy. Without the buffer zone of drugs,
meeting life on its own terms is a new and sometimes intimidating experience. You may feel selfdoubt
when faced with new situations in recovery. We encourage you to ask questions and share
your feelings with members of Narcotics Anonymous. Most of us have experienced similar feelings
and situations in our early recovery.
Some addicts leaving treatment feel overconfident of their ability to stay clean on their own. It’s
not unusual for addicts to develop a false sense of security in the structured environment of
treatment. An overconfident attitude can be dangerous, however. Thinking that “I don’t need
anyone’s help” often leads to a relapse, a return to active addiction. Acknowledging our
vulnerability helps us become willing to prepare for our discharge. We encourage you to have a
plan of action before leaving treatment. Here are some suggestions that have worked for us:
• Decide that no matter what happens today, you will not use drugs.
• Contact a few Narcotics Anonymous members and let them know when you will be leaving
• Plan to attend a meeting that day. Share at the meeting that you are a newcomer.
• Introduce yourself and talk with NA members before and after the meeting.
Staying clean on the outside means taking action. When you get out, go to a meeting the first day of your release. It is important to establish the habit of regular attendance. The confusion and excitement of "just getting out" has lulled some of us into thinking of taking a vacation from our responsibilities before settling down to the business of day-to-day living. This kind of rationalization has led many of us back to using. Addiction is a disease which takes no time off in its progression. If it is not arrested, it only becomes worse. What we do for our recovery today does not ensure our recovery tomorrow. It is a mistake to assume that the good intention of getting around to NA after a while will be sufficient. We must back up our intentions with action, the earlier the better.
It is never too early to establish a personal program of daily action. Taking daily action is our way of taking responsibility for our recovery. Instead of picking up that first drug, we do the following:
Don't use, no matter what
Go to an NA meeting
Ask your Higher Power to keep you clean today
Call your sponsor
Read NA literature
Talk to other recovering addicts
Work the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous
We've discussed some of the things to do to stay clean; we should also discuss some things to avoid. In NA meetings, we often hear that we must change our old way of living. This means that we don't use drugs, no matter what! We have also found that we cannot afford to frequent bars and clubs or associate with people who use drugs. When we allow ourselves to hang around old acquaintances and places, we are setting ourselves up for relapse. When it comes to the disease of addiction, we are powerless. These people and these places never helped us stay clean before. It would be foolish to think things will be different now.
For an addict, there is no substitute for the fellowship of others actively engaged in recovery. It is important to give ourselves a break and give our recovery a chance. There are many new friends waiting for us in Narcotics Anonymous, and a new world of experiences lies ahead.
More information can be found in the online pamphlet: For Those In Treatment