Relearning Expectations

Relearning Expectations

In essence, when you’re learning how to live life sober, you’re “relearning” the tools you may have let lapse during the course of your addiction. Much as someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury and must begin to learn to move their limbs on command, relearning life sober can be a surprise to most of us. 

At some point you may have heard that the addict’s mind stops developing maturity at a normal rate, in effect, leaving the newly sober re-entering their own lives at roughly the emotional age they began abusing substances. The reality is—no, you’re not always going to emerge from residential treatment as the emotional equivalent of a 14-year-old skate punk trying to huff whatever’s on hand. However, that young man who never saw a risk he wouldn’t take might be trouble to handle later.

Here’s the great part: it doesn’t have to go down like that. Just knowing that you might have some rough edges to work out does NOT mean you have to panic. What it means is to expect the unexpected. 

  • Expect to do things like act selfish with your food/drink. Why? It triggers the kid in you who thinks, “You took [substance I abused] away from me; you’re not gonna take this!”
  • Expect to be frustrated with friends being late, even if you were never on time a day in your life when you drank or used. Why? Because you “have group in two hours and that gets you through to tomorrow and doesn’t this late person KNOW that?”
  • Expect to ask too much from your support system, especially sponsors, doctors, prominent people in recovery. Why? Because you might be re-parenting yourself with those you see as authority figures. (Re-parenting is just like it sounds: using a teacher, therapist, advisor in an almost parental role to guide you in every decision)

What you should do instead is truly engage while you are in the environment of rehabilitation. Plenty of staff and alumni have been where you’ve been; ask them about their own experiences and how they remained in charge of their own recovery—and their own life. While it’s not uncommon to feel all sorts of emotions upon leaving rehab, there’s no reason to feel shame as a result of what we don’t yet know about ourselves. 


Take root and grow in your recovery network at Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California. We are a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138

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