Transitioning from rehab to routine daily life can be a tough challenge for recovering addicts. Learn what people in recovery have to practice in life after treatment.
Returning home or starting a new chapter in a new place while in recovery can seem daunting. Many people recently out of addiction treatment come out with high hopes to stay sober, but also hold many doubts that they’ll be able to manage it. With so many people emphasizing how many times people relapse in recovery and how many times recovering addicts have to go to treatment, not everyone can keep the optimism alive.
Still, life after treatment doesn’t have to be a total uphill battle for the rest of your life. Though the first six months to a year is the most vulnerable period for recovering individuals, it truly does get easier and better over time. Maintaining sobriety requires a lot of discipline, determination, and patience. People in recovery have to be willing to change their lives and grow as people, even if they experience setbacks like alcohol or drug relapses.
And with proper therapy, support groups, and effort, recovering individuals can see the success of their sobriety.
At least 1 in 7 Americans will face a substance use addiction, but only 1 in 10 of them will receive treatment for it.
Living in recovery also means having discipline and responsibility. While they may not always be fun, the following are crucial to maintaining sobriety in life after treatment:
Continued therapy to discuss ongoing challenges in recovery you face can help you work out solutions to avoid relapse
Attending daily to weekly 12-Step meetings is a good way to maintain accountability in your recovery.
Schedule periodic meet-ups with your sponsor, an addiction counselor, or a mental health professional to touch base on where you stand in your sobriety and what you need to work on.
Not everyone feels comfortable or likes the 12-step method featured in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and that’s fine! Research recovery programs in your area and test out new groups at your pace.
People who practice faith and/or religion may want to establish a relationship with a leader in their faith, such as a priest, rabbi, imam, or pastor.
MAKE A RELAPSE PREVENTION PLAN FOR LIFE AFTER TREATMENT
Life after treatment involves having a solid relapse prevention plan, but it doesn’t have to mean thinking about worst case scenarios all the time. Here are some positive changes to ensure your sobriety as you go on:
In the first six months to a year of your recovery, you will be vulnerable emotionally, physically, and spiritually. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’re reaching your breaking point, when the cravings will be intense, and when you’ll have doubts that you can keep your recovery going.
One of the first things you need to establish when you reenter life after treatment is a support system of family members, trustworthy friends, and people who want to see you succeed. This means getting a sponsor in your recovery group, spending more time with friends who are sober and/or also in recovery, and rebuilding familial relationships.
If you are returning home, ask a family member or someone you trust to get rid of any drug paraphernalia in your place to avoid immediate triggers. This could mean throwing out dirty spoons, cigarette wraps, substances, items with drug imagery, needles, liquor bottles, and other reminders of addiction.
It would be good to avoid places that trigger memories of drug use or drinking. Avoid locations you frequently went to buy drugs or alcohol and places you remember getting high or drunk in. Create a safe space for your mind by exploring new places that encourage healthier activities and a sober lifestyle.
If you need to revisit a place that triggers negative memories and thoughts, it may be time to consider alternative options. This could mean asking a family member or friend to help you move to a new location, finding a new job, or going to new spots for errands (e.g. pharmacies, gas stations, and convenience stores).
Do not continue relationships with people who are still using or drinking and don’t have any current plans to quit. If they do not take your recovery seriously and respect that you are trying to remain abstinent and sober, then they are not people who respect your values and health either.
Though it may be difficult, you will need to cut ties with certain friends and even family members. You need to be concerned with your recovery, your health, and your wellbeing. Holding onto the past will only lead you to relapse.
And though some people might think their newfound recovery will inspire their friends to quit too, the reality is that the only person who is going to be influenced is you. Don’t risk temptation. Just keep your distance, and if they start a path a recovery, then that is the time to reconnect and support them.
Before you leave rehab treatment, you will have an opportunity to plan out some basic goals for when you go back home, but that’s not the only time you should sit down and plan for your future. Start getting in the routine habit to set goals for yourself, accomplish them, and then planning out the next step.
In the early stages of recovery, they can be small, like starting an exercise routine or writing in a journal every day. As you become more stable, you can increase the challenge by enrolling in a community class or learning skills for a job you’re interested in. Eventually, it might be good to consider continuing education or working your way up the workforce.
If you are in the midst of custody battles, showing determination and discipline in goal planning can also help you get supervised visits with your children, partial custody, or possibly custody back for your kids in general.
Always look ahead and learn to believe that anything you set your mind to is possible.
Just because you’re not in rehab anymore doesn’t mean keeping up a healthy exercise and diet routine gets to stop either. Maintaining good nutrition in your meals will help regulate your mood and give you energy. Exercise, including meditation, can be a natural therapeutic session that also releases natural endorphins to boost your spirits.
Consider more holistic activities and foods to incorporate into your life after treatment. Getting more in touch with natural methods to achieving happiness will show you that living life sober can be more rewarding than you thought before.
Keeping to a regular sleep schedule should be a habit you get into quickly. Not only will irregular sleeping hours make you groggy during the day, but lack of proper sleep also triggers cravings, anxiety, and depression. This could mean putting an unnecessary obstacle to staying true to your sobriety.
For people who experience sleeping problems as a symptom of drug withdrawal, consider eliminating any stimulating activities from your night schedules, such as internet surfing or social media, drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks, and exercising at night. Drink soothing, herbal teas like chamomile before going to bed or read a book before you doze off.
People new to recovery will soon discover they have a lot of time on their hands, which makes room for the perfect opportunity to try out a new hobby!
Boredom can be a dangerous trigger for people in recovery, so if there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to try, then go for it! Take a stab at the arts and buy some paint supplies and sketchpads to release creative energy. Learn how to play a new sport or join a community team. Try gardening, going on nature walks, photography, or a cultural dance class.
This world has a lot to offer, so start the journey of discovering what you’re passionate about and have fun.
If you’re active in the recovery community in your town, it won’t be long before you realize there are so many events to go to! Because, hey, if there’s anyone who knows how to party sober, it’s recovering addicts.
From sober concerts and sports events to dry bars and sober parties, participating in your recovery community can introduce you to safe spaces where you can let loose without having to worry about substance abuse. Many support groups will also host events during holidays to help people who feel like they’ll be tempted to use, such as around Christmas and New Year’s Eve or St. Patrick’s Day.
People dealing with an anniversary of a loved one’s passing can also attend support group meetings that will help them with the grief. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and other significant celebrations can also be redefined with help from recovery friends. And best of all: sober anniversaries! Have fun with people who support you and also know that having fun in sobriety is very real and very possible.
The best motivation can come your own thoughts, which is why it’s recommended for people starting out their recovery to keep a journal. Record all the things you’ve accomplished now that you’re sober, no matter how big or small. Log down feelings to see patterns in your thought processes, like seeing which days made you happy and why or what events/actions made a day particularly hard for you.
Write at least one thing you’re grateful for each day to keep reminding yourself why you chose a life of recovery instead of addiction. Let out your emotions when you feel anxious or depressed.
And if you really want to see your progress, write benchmark goals and deadlines for yourself, then see all the growth you went through in your journal entries to accomplish specific goals. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn about yourself.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A RELAPSE?
People who have recently completed substance use treatment have around a 40 to 60 percent chance of relapsing. While that may seem like treatment won’t help people with addiction, the truth is that for many recovering addicts, a relapse or several relapses are part of the recovery process.
Nope. Of course, nobody wants to relapse and it is definitely not encouraged by reputable treatment centers, but relapses happen. There could be several reasons for why a person relapsed in recovery: from not being able to build a support system to lack of planning for life after treatment to the fact that they didn’t want to quit in the first place.
Relapses can also indicate different therapies need to be implemented into a person’s treatment. What specifically triggered a relapse will need to be discussed in therapy during treatment so that core issues the recovering addict is struggling with can be addressed.
Not everyone who relapses will necessarily have to jump right back into drug and alcohol treatment. Relapses can serve as a wake-up call for recovering addicts to take their sobriety more seriously, especially if they had to pay for the consequences of their lapse via a DUI arrest, getting fired, or losing a relationship they valued. If the recovering individual can understand where they went wrong and now has determination to approach their sobriety more seriously by following 12-Step programs, going to meetings, and communicating with their sponsor, then treatment isn’t necessary.
However, should someone feel like this relapse is the beginning of a dangerous domino effect, then they should pursue drug treatment again. Whether this means participating in an intensive outpatient treatment program to uphold work schedules or enrolling into an inpatient rehab center is ultimately up to the individual and their needs. Sobriety should be the main priority, so do whatever is necessary to uphold that standard.
Maybe. Whether a person goes back to treatment or not, what is indicated by a relapse is there is a lot more to be worked out in therapy that may not be able to be fully seen in a 30- to 90-day program. Consult with your insurance representative to see how mental health services are covered by your insurance policy, and consider going to routine visits to a psychiatric professional.
Even if you can only afford one visit per month, just that kind of schedule can help you with your sobriety. You and your therapist can set goals to be completed by the next appointment, discuss your past and personal struggles more in depth, and address any other underlying mental health concerns that may not have been treated in the past or while in drug rehab.
Some people relapse because of the environment they live in. It doesn’t matter how much treatment you get if you’re only going to go back to a home where people use substances or don’t support your mission for sobriety.
In this case, it may be best for certain recovering individuals to live in a sober living home, where they won’t have to worry about triggers and are surrounded by likeminded individuals. Some sober living facilities offer sliding scale rent payments to allow time for new residents to find a job, and many homes will offer lower rent prices to let residents save enough money to transition into self-sufficient lifestyles.
Always do some research on which sober living home you decide to live in. Recent news have reported scam homes, where victims were given drugs and encouraged to relapse so they could go back into faulty treatment centers. Insurance fraud, unfortunately, is a common crime found in the recovery industry, so always be careful of whom you trust.
If you would like some help in finding a drug treatment center or sober living home, you can call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070 and one of our addiction specialists at Drug Treatment Center Finder will help you in your journey to sobriety. Call now.