You’re freshly sober, equipped with a new perspective on the world, and ready to start living a clean, healthy, and better life than before. However, although you may have finished rehab, your recovery process is far from over.
Recovering addicts face a number of obstacles in the way of sobriety, such as boredom, loneliness, depression, anger, fear, anxiety, and even overconfidence. In treatment you may have learned more about your personal relationship to these feelings, and hopefully you will be better equipped to cope with them thanks to the work you completed in recovery. But addiction is a lifelong disease that takes continual vigilance and work to monitor.
Setting yourself up for success in your “post-rehab” life is the key to continued sobriety. Here at Landmark Recovery, we do our utmost to equip patients with the information, resources, and support network they need to live their best possible lives. We’ve compiled the following most important tips for achieving and maintaining success in post-rehab life.
#1 Creating a New Environment
Returning to the same environment where you were actively using substances is a dangerous and ill-advised course of action. In treatment, you will have been asked about the triggers in your life, such as people, places, and scenarios that pushed you to turn to substances. Are you going to go right back into that kind of environment.
Freshly released from rehab, it’s important to eliminate or reduce the negative influences in your life that cause you stress, fear, and anxiety. This could mean moving into a new apartment, home, or part of town. If you’re living with a significant other or roommates who are actively using, you should strongly consider finding new residence. It’s understandable that not everyone can afford to move someplace else. Fortunately, if you have insurance, you may be able to cover the costs of sober living homes.
In sober living homes, recovering addicts live together in a sober environment and live their lives as any normal person would. It’s a great way for recovering addicts to connect with one another, support each other, and encourage continued sobriety. According to the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, sober living homes and transitional programs can help to sustain sobriety and that residence in one of these homes increases the odds of attending 12-Step meetings.
If you don’t need to take such a drastic step, you can also work to reorganize your home in a manner that is more helpful to your recovery. Begin by removing all substances in your home. The temptation of nearby access to substances may prove too great, or you may grow complacent and believe that just one drink or hit is manageable. Chances are, if you’ve needed to undergo treatment for a substance use disorder, you’ve moved past the point where moderation is realistic.
“Create an outward environment of positivity to reflect an inward environment of positivity”
This can mean cleaning and organizing your house, setting up daily chore routines, eliminating time spent with negative influences, and more. Once you’ve done the work to change your external environment, you can look towards enhancing your internal environment.
#2 Creating a New Routine
You may find upon returning home that you now have lots of free time that you don’t know what to do with. As someone with addictive tendencies, you’ll likely start craving some kind of way to fill the void that you formerly used substances to fill. This is where creating a new routine can greatly benefit you.
You’ll want to set yourself up for success by filling your time with ample dedication to physical fitness, mental health, leisure time, work, and social obligations. There is no perfect balance, but it helps to make sure that you don’t overload yourself with say, work, or physical fitness, while neglecting your friends and family or leisure time.
Regular exercise should become an important part of your daily routine. Maintaining a regular aerobic exercise routine can actually lower risk of developing an addiction or relapsing from a prior addiction. Research has shown that individuals who regularly engage in exercise are less like likely to use and abuse illicit drugs, and that exercise offers special protective behavioral and neurological effects against developing a substance use disorder.
Similarly, preparing healthy meals for yourself can greatly benefit your mental outlook and finances. Preparing healthy meals ahead of time will help you avoid spending money eating out or eating fast food, build your immune system, and provide a balanced source of nutrition for your body and brain.
You should also begin to set long-term and short-term goals for yourself. For example, attending X-amount of meetings per week, taking cooking classes, learning a new instrument, or maybe traveling to certain destinations. You can look forward to sobriety milestones such as 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year onwards.
Focusing on a daily routine harkens back to the “one day at a time” mantra that many recovering addicts live by. You should focus on making it through each day without being overwhelmed by the thought of having to make it for another 3 months or 3 years. By keeping your lens on completing your daily routine, soon enough a day becomes a week, a week becomes a month, and so on.
#3 Creating Your Support Network
Creating a comprehensive support network is probably the most important aspect of continued recovery. In treatment, you will have learned several ways to create your support network for the real world such as attending meetings, finding a sponsor, and participating in alumni events. However, the first thing you should is establish your emergency contact.
Your emergency contact is someone who you should be able to get in touch with at any time and who you can talk openly with. If you feel the temptation to use again, they can talk to you and help you understand that it’s no worth relapsing. Maybe you need a ride, or maybe you just need someone to lend an ear for an hour. To find your emergency contact, look for someone else who has been in recovery or who knows you extremely well, such as a best friend, parent, or sibling.
A similar role to this contact is your sponsor, and in fact, your sponsor should be your emergency contact. Recovering addicts typically find sponsors by attending 12 Step meetings, participating in discussions, and asking people afterwards if they would be able to act as your sponsor. In some instances, the rehab center you graduated from may provide you with the phone number of someone who could be your sponsor. When it comes to picking a sponsor, you should look for a few characteristics, especially if this is your first time having a sponsor.
You should choose a sponsor whom:
- You relate to, or whom you respect and admire
- Has at least 1 year of sobriety under their belt
- Has 1 or more other sponsees and is actively engaged with them
- Actively lives the 12-Step Principles in their daily lives
- Is honest and open-minded
Alumni events and programs are another great way to build and maintain your support network. Alumni events and programs can be anything from get-togethers to occupational training programs. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that 33% of people who dropped out of treatment indicated that they would have stayed longer in substance abuse treatment if they had received practical assistance, functional help with life areas, and individualized services post treatment. Ask your treatment center what kind of programs they offer alumni, and do your best to play an active role in them.
Having an actively maintained and vibrant support network starts with you. Get to know other folks in recovery, be open to new friendships, and work whatever individual program you think is best. A successful support network
#4 Finding New Hobbies
Another one of the most important parts of recovery for addicts is learning how to fill the gaps left behind by drug abuse. You will have free time and energy to do things, but you may not know what to do with it all. You may have even forgotten what it’s like to have fun without drugs and alcohol! But don’t worry, plenty of recovering addicts find meaning and fun without drugs.
The best kinds of hobbies you take up should be the kind that get your mind working and your body active. Mentally stimulating hobbies such as reading, playing board games, learning a second language, and learning an instrument are all great ways to occupy your brain from thinking about using again. Plus, these activities give you long-term goals to shoot for. Physical activities that get your blood pumping such as sports, running, hiking, and more are excellent for reducing stress and improving your overall fitness level.
Exercise is an important but often understated component of addiction recovery. No single workout or routine can cure addiction, but the many benefits of regular exercise can significantly improve your chances of long-term recovery. Exercise and addiction go hand in hand while also helping give recovering addicts structure, keeps the mind preoccupied, enhances health, reduces stress, and increases self-esteem. Some exercises and activities you should try include:
Yoga is a great option for recovering addicts because it involves intense mental focus while emphasizing clarity of mind.
Enjoying the great outdoors is mankind’s most favorite past time (sorry baseball). Research shows that just being in nature can boost dopamine levels and relax you.
Running for even just 20-30 minutes a day is linked to lower stress, healthier weight, and better mental cognition. It’s also great excuse to get outside and enjoy more nature.
Moving through water is highly therapeutic and fun way to get exercise. Depending on your level of intensity, swimming is a great aerobic exercise that has been linked to reducing depression, reducing pain, and improving quality of sleep.
Playing a competitive game that gets you moving is more than just a good workout. It’s also an excellent opportunity to build social relationships with others, which can be a crucial component to sustained recovery.
Recovery can also become a hobby in and of itself, with regular meetings and friendships that grow to become a integral component of your life. By helping others and eventually becoming a sponsor, you can help save lives.
#5 Considering Further Treatment
Sometimes, the gravity of a situation may feel like too much to handle. What may have seemed doable in rehab could be much harder in the real world, and sudden tragedies and traumas could completely blind side you. Just remember that you always have the option to re-enter treatment or enroll in an intensive outpatient program.
In an intensive outpatient program, patients take part in thrice-weekly therapy sessions on-premises while living from home and continuing to work their current job. Outpatient treatment is typically advised for those who have either completed medical detox or a residential treatment center and require further assistance with integrating into daily life.
Multiple studies have confirmed that intensive outpatient treatment can be as effective as residential forms of treatment when it comes to achieving continued sobriety. Ask if your rehab offers outpatient services or search for intensive outpatient facilities in your area.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a relapse does not mean you have failed drug and alcohol rehabilitation. In fact, relapse occurs often and you should not feel ashamed about it occurring. Relapse can be a natural portion of recovery and by following all these tips you can be fully prepared to bounce back from a relapse.
Quick Tips to Keep in Mind
- Create your routine and follow it
- Fake it till you make it (positivity)
- Connect regularly with your support system
- Make time for reflection
- Make goals
- Avoid relapse but know it isn’t the end of the world
- Moderation doesn’t work
- Don’t give up!
Living your life post-rehab can seem difficult, but with the right mindset and guidelines you can become happy, healthy, sober, and successful. At Landmark Recovery, or experienced staff has dealt with a wide range of treatment methods and approaches for substance abuse disorders. If you’re seeking intensive outpatient treatment in Louisville or Lexington and are concerned for the well-being of yourself or a loved one abusing substances, reach out to our team and we’ll walk you through the process for enrolling.