Rehab may be the first step towards a life of sobriety but it’s important to find out what addiction treatment experts recommend after that first big hurdle.
Going to rehab for a drug or alcohol addiction is the first step to recovery, no doubt. It is an immersion in recovery with education, therapy, relapse prevention, 12-step meetings, and psychiatric care that serve to help the addicted see that they are able to stop using drugs or alcohol. Rehab typically begins with medically-supervised detoxification during which the drugs or alcohol are eliminated from the body of the addict. It ends after the patient has completed a program of 30 days or more, offers the addiction treatment experts at Summit Behavioral Health in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
While making the first step toward recovery is a huge undertaking on the part of the addict, it is only the very beginning of the lifelong recovery process. Unfortunately, most relapses occur within six months of an addict completing rehab. Returning to recovery after a slip or a relapse is difficult, and many people don’t make it back into recovery for a long time, if ever.
So it’s critical that when you complete rehab, you have a recovery plan for transitioning back into your daily life, and that you stick to it. There is a saying in recovery circles that says if you aren’t moving toward your recovery, then you are moving toward your addiction. Knowing what you need to do when you get out of rehab is important so that you stay on track with your recovery program.
The following are some things to consider as you start your new life in recovery after completing rehab.
Follow Your Recovery Plan
Usually one of the last things you do during your stay in rehab is work with your therapist to come up with a recovery plan. It includes things like any ongoing care you may be taking part in (outpatient treatment, aftercare programs, psychiatric care, therapy, etc.), 12-step meetings available in your area, what you will do if you are triggered to use, contact information of supportive sober people, and other information that is relevant to your recovery.
Sometimes, when confronted with the “real world” after rehab, addicts forget that they have this plan, or they fail to follow it. It’s important to keep it close at hand and make sure that you follow it to the best of your ability. It’s a great resource for early recovery.
Find Sober Friends
When you’re in rehab you may hear that you need to change your playmates and playgrounds when you get out. That means that you can’t continue to associate with the people and in the places that you used to use. This may be hard because it feels like you have to abandon old friends, but the friends that truly care about your recovery will support your new sobriety and give you the space you need. Developing new friendships with other people in recovery or with those who don’t drink or use drugs will provide you with social outlets and healthy relationships.
Evaluate Your Living Conditions
You may have no control over your living conditions, but if where you live is risky to your continued sobriety, you may want to look into sober living communities or a halfway house. If drugs or alcohol are used by others in your home, living there could be a very slippery slope for you. It’s best to try to avoid situations where there are drugs or alcohol (even the ones you didn’t previously use) present. If that’s your home, you might need to find other living arrangements.
Attending 12-step meetings is usually suggested as a continued support for recovery. If you don’t like them, there are alternatives out there. The key is to find a fellowship of people with whom you have recovery in common. You are able to learn from their struggles and victories as they learn from yours.
Keep Yourself Busy
It’s really helpful for people who are leaving rehab to have a schedule or a routine that they stick to. This is easy for those who are returning to a job or school. If you don’t have either of those, then take some time to put together a schedule that keeps you fairly busy – especially if there are certain times of the day that you are more likely to feel triggered.
Ongoing therapy is another important consideration when you are finished with rehab. If you don’t already have a therapist or psychiatrist, now is the time to find one. You may have been prescribed medication in rehab, and it’s important that you have a medical professional who can monitor and refill your medication. If you have a supportive family, it may also be helpful to seek family counseling as your role in the family is changing and there will be a period of adjustment.
Exercise is helpful both physically and mentally. If you were physically active before rehab, continue what you were doing (unless it involves other drug or alcohol users). If you were not active before rehab, get started! Even a daily walk around your neighborhood will do you good.
Volunteer or Help Someone Else
Helping others is great for your confidence and self-esteem and it helps you to not focus on yourself so much. If you have the time, consider volunteering somewhere a couple of days a week. You can also help others by being of service in 12-step meetings – even newcomers can find a role at meetings, just ask the chairperson what you can do.
Only you truly know what your triggers are and what feelings, situations, or interactions might cause you to be in danger of using again. Pay attention to those and how you feel about them. Don’t try to do everything alone, confide in your trusted friends and supportive family members before your thinking takes you back down the road of addiction.
Seek Help if You Need It
If you find yourself struggling and are afraid you are going to use or drink, or you already had a slip, don’t hesitate to ask for additional help. It may be that you need additional treatment, or it may be that you can discuss what’s going on with your therapist, doctor, or sponsor and come up with strategies to help you with your challenges. Contact the addiction treatment experts at Serenity at Summit for help maintaining your sobriety.