Leaving rehab can be scary, after all, you may be overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. While you may feel great and look healthy, it’s completely normal to have a healthy fear of relapse. You may have concerns about your career, your family, your daily routines, and more. However, there are a ton of completely free tools at your disposal that can help you stay sober after rehab.
Recovery doesn’t end when treatment does. Instead, getting out of rehab is only the beginning. Inevitably, you will be exposed to emotional triggers and may have thoughts of using/drinking. Fortunately, you don’t have to act on these thoughts. After rehab, you will have the opportunity to demonstrate what you learned in treatment by practicing your new skills in the real world.
Here are 7 tips to help you stay sober after rehab.
1. Build a Support Group
For people in recovery, isolation is something you want to avoid. Isolation can allow negative thinking and bad habits to seep back into your life. Instead, having a support group that consists of healthy, sober individuals can help keep you on the right track. Your support group should be people you can trust who understand the things you are going through. These people will share their experiences with you to help you, listen when you need to talk, and provide you with emotional support. Often times, people find their support groups within the rooms of a 12-Step fellowship.
2. Join a 12-Step Fellowship
12-Step fellowships, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) exist to help support individuals in recovery. These groups meet on a regular basis and share their personal stories of how they got sober. Sometimes, these meetings consist of book readings, speakers, or group discussions. Although they are spiritual in nature, none of them belong to a religious sect or denomination. You don’t even have to believe to belong! 12-Step meetings can be found nationwide and are one of the most popular ways for people to achieve long-term sobriety.
3. Build a Structured Schedule
Having structure is important. A chaotic or hectic lifestyle can add unnecessary stressors to your life. As a result, this stress can take your focus away from your recovery. Try developing a daily and weekly schedule that is easy to manage and stick to. You can set both short and long term goals for your recovery. While staying sober should be your top priority, pursuing and accomplishing other goals can help you develop a high sense of self-worth and end up aiding in your recovery.
4. Start Working Out
Whether you were addicted to opioids, stimulants, or alcohol, there is a good chance that your health was affected. Perhaps you have lost a lot of weight, developed a nutrient deficiency, or have put those early-sobriety pounds on from sugar cravings. Regardless, working out is good for your mental and physical health. After all, exercise not only reduces boredom, but it can reduce stress and anxiety as well. Using exercise to cope with unpleasant emotions is a great coping skill to have. In addition, it can help restore balance to your life and improve your overall health.
5. Find a Low-Stress Job
Unless you are returning to a past job, finding a low-stress job can be beneficial in early recovery. Working a demanding job with long hours can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. Additionally, creating a healthy work-life balance can be challenging when you first leave treatment. What defines a low-stress job is different for different people. For some, it could mean a small, family-owned diner. For others, it could mean retail or front desk attending. Whatever the case may be, if you start a job that is too stressful, its okay to call it quits and find something that better meets your needs. Remember, nothing should come in front of your sobriety, not even a job.
6. Heal the Past
It’s completely normal to have caused harm to the ones you love while you were using/drinking. However, letting go of guilt is crucial in recovery. Guilt can wear you down emotionally and trigger a relapse. Instead, take the suggestions of your support group as to how you can repair the damages done in the past. This can be as simple as showing your family love and respect or paying off an old debt. Just because you are sober doesn’t mean the past disappears. In order for you to heal, you must confront the past and set out to make things right.
7. Be Mindful of The Signs of Relapse
Lastly, it is important to stay mindful of the signs of relapse. When you are mindful, you will begin to cultivate self-awareness and be able to make judgments regarding the quality of your recovery. This can help prevent a relapse. Some signs of a drug or alcohol relapse include:
- Elevated stress
- Repeated desire to use drugs or drink alcohol
- Justifying to yourself that you can drink or use safely
- Returning to old behaviors
- Isolating from family and friends
- Making irrational choices and unhealthy decisions
- Failure to meet social or occupational obligations
- Not making your recovery a top priority
If you do recognize a sign of relapse, don’t beat yourself up. You are human and it happens. However, once you realize that you may be on the road to relapse, it is vital to take steps to correct the behaviors you are acting out on.
Life in Recovery
Staying sober after addiction treatment involves action. Sometimes, you may face challenges in recovery. Some days will be better than others. However, as long as you stay vigilant and treat your disease on a daily basis, you have a better chance of staying sober. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. After all, you are human – and the best way to learn is by making mistakes and correcting them.