Congratulations! The fact that you’re reading this article indicates you have freed yourself from your addiction shackles and started your recovery journey from the dark end of substance abuse.
You understand how much willpower and energy it takes to get yourself out, which explains why you’re scared to relapse into those old habits again.
After rehab, having a relapse might be the furthest thing from your mind, but the unfortunate truth is that relapses are very common among people who are new to recovery.
The path to sobriety might not be linear, as approximately 80% of people experience some setback before finding complete sobriety. Still, the good news is if you stay on track, you will eventually get there.
Transitioning from a rehab center to a normal life might bring mixed feelings of excitement and fear. This is ok because rehab provides a safety net while stepping out into the real world might seem full of possible temptations.
The internet is filled with free resources to help you cope with this transition. You can look for videos, opinions, support groups and create your plan through what you learn.
On the other hand, you can also search online and start your journey through an addiction guide to make the process easier. In the end, you have to work with what suits you and your situation.
With that said, keep reading to get to the nitty-gritty on how to proceed ahead with post-rehab life:
Build a strong support system:
Have you seen that episode of “F.R.I.E.N.D.S,” where Rachel doesn’t smoke, but all her colleagues do? She feels that she is missing out on important work conversations and resorts to smoking herself just because she didn’t have any support to fall back on.
This show episode aptly demonstrates exactly how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded people who will be able to support you on your journey in staying sober.
Obviously, you can’t hang out with people from the rehab support group all the time, so you need to educate family and friends on how best to help you in your journey.
Find healthy activities to fill up your leisure time:
Did you know that the more time you have, the more likely you will relapse? Taking up any activities you enjoy means you are less likely to look for trouble.
So, where do you start? Do you want to explore your creative side, taking up art, or learning to play an instrument are your options? Try making a list of things that excite you.
Want to do something that involves more of a physical challenge? Sports, exercise classes, or even gardening could be your thing.
Additionally, activities like swimming or playing soccer have a hidden benefit as well, exercise. Exercise is an important part of your healing journey as it can heal some of the damage caused by substance abuse.
Identify your triggers:
The path to recovery can never be complete until you can identify what things or situations compel you to start, or more likely, abuse, drinking, or whatever vice you previously indulged in.
So, what exactly is a trigger? Anything that can put you in a place of mental or emotional stress or creates a strong emotion inside you (like a fire starting to burn that can only be put out by the bliss created by using drugs or alcohol) is a trigger.
For some people, it could be painful memories, dealing with toxic people, feelings of shame/self-regret, frustration, even work-related stress, etc.
The good news is once you have identified your potential triggers, you can now work on modifying your life to work around them.
Modifying environments that fuel your triggers:
In an ideal scenario, we could press the delete button on everything that brings unpleasant feelings in our life.
But in real life, unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. The world outside the rehab center is full of temptations, and staying away from those temptations is scary.
Can you be strong enough not to stray from your path? Well, if you’ve reached the first step to identify what triggers you to substance abuse, you can easily modify your life to move around them instead of crashing right into them again.
Successful strategies to manage your triggers can include:
- Surrounding yourself with positive people
- Talking to a therapist
- Avoiding social gatherings where you know drugs and alcohol might be served.
- Establishing firm boundaries if offered alcohol or drugs.
This might seem like a trivial thing to some people, but celebrate each milestone that you achieve, no matter how big or small, in your sobriety journey as a constant positive reminder to yourself of how far you have come.
Acknowledging the hard work you’ve put in will keep you motivated.
Keep your accountability mode on:
“Recovery is a continuous process that never ends.” Your rehabilitation program doesn’t mean your healing is now complete just because you finished.
Your journey to recovery is an ongoing process, well beyond the walls of the rehabilitation center. Treat your addiction as you would any other chronic disease.
If you leave the treatment, you are back at square one. Research has shown that relapses mostly occur within the first six months after the initial treatment.
It is imperative that to prevent relapses, you should:
- Keep all your follow-up appointments with your support group.
- Stay in touch regularly with your sponsor, particularly if you feel upset.
Understand that starting the journey to recovery will be the hardest thing you might have probably done. Also, it won’t always be a straight line; there will be some good days and some bad days.
But don’t let the fear of failure deter you from your mission to achieve sobriety but instead focus on the process of recovering and developing habits that support your journey of health in the long run.