Life after addiction treatment is all about rebuilding. Rebuilding relationships, financial stability, daily routines, and more. Damage and disruption from the active phase of addiction can take years to repair. It can be overwhelming to let go of old ways of living and start fresh. It’s important to remember that sobriety is the only foundation to safely build upon.
Keep reading to learn more about rebuilding your life after drugs and alcohol.
Make a Plan
Before leaving treatment, a case manager will work with the client to establish a plan for after treatment. The more detailed the plan is, the less likely relapse will occur. The plan should include every detail, from what to do when waking up in the morning to what to do in case of a relapse.
Recognize and Manage Triggers
Triggers identified in therapy will aid in the establishment of a plan that suits individual needs. Practice recognizing triggers before leaving treatment. For example, is it possible to avoid things that cause cravings and negative thought patterns? Can the things that cause this negative effect be replaced with something more productive?
Once the ability to recognize a trigger is mastered, management of those triggers can then be practiced. Management of a trigger may mean taking a moment to call support or doing something uplifting like going for a jog or taking a support animal for a walk. Managing triggers is no easy task. Constant self-awareness is vital to successfully maintaining sobriety.
Gather Support with a Sober Community
A major part of planning for life after treatment is ensuring the proper support will be readily available when needed. A sober community can identify with the struggles of newly found sobriety and can understand the urgency of lending support when asked. Community support groups like AA/NA are great places to meet sober people who are eager to support.
Leave Old Friends Behind
Delete old contacts, move away from old stomping grounds, set boundaries, and stick to them. One of the biggest triggers for relapse is falling into old relationships and patterns. It is unrealistic to maintain relationships with old friends who are still using while maintaining sobriety. It’s time to make a choice, and it’s your life on the line.
Make Things Right
A vital step in clearing the mess made in the active phase of addiction is thoroughly addressing the wrongdoings of the past. Heartfelt apologies can repair meaningful relationships and further solidify a sober community. It can be extremely difficult to take accountability for past wrongdoing and apologize. Some relationships are worth the struggle though. Identify people who deserve an apology and attempt to make things right.
Seek Professional Help
Continuing psychotherapy after leaving addiction treatment may be a great item to consider adding to a plan for life after treatment. In residential treatment, individual therapy sessions occur weekly, and group therapy sessions occur daily. If at all possible, continuing therapy after treatment can further support lifelong recovery. Keeping in touch with emotions allows triggers to be recognized more easily and allows coping techniques taught in therapy to remain on your radar.
Consider Recovery Housing
When creating a formal plan for life after addiction treatment, recovery housing may be a great resource to consider. Ask yourself if returning to previous housing may pose a risk for relapse. It is vital that the plan for life after treatment be mapped out as carefully and as detailed as possible. Prepare for the unexpected, exhaust all options, and leave no stone unturned. Recovery housing is also a great place to immerse in a sober community and meet friends who will support and encourage sobriety.
Establish a Routine
Starting the day by doing something as simple as making your bed every morning can set you up for success. Accomplishing this simple task gives a small sense of self-worth, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task will have led to many tasks completed. Identify some go-to routines to do to keep life on track and organized.
Find a Purpose in Recovery
Life in the active phase of addiction was a rollercoaster. It was filled with ups, downs, unexpected twists, and turns. While that was unbearable at times, it also was exciting. Life after addiction and inpatient treatment is more predictable and mellow. For those who crave more excitement and fun, the somber reality of sobriety as a whole can be a trigger. In the active phase of addiction, life’s purpose may have been thrill-seeking and comfort zone residing. Sobriety may be outside the comfort zone and too boring to maintain. It’s important to find a purpose in recovery and focus on that purpose throughout the mellow predictability of sobriety.
Finding New Hobbies
Identify activities that bring you joy to fill time with. Ask yourself how you can spend your time in a way that supports your values while still having fun. Do you enjoy helping others? Are you passionate about animal welfare? Volunteer at a homeless shelter or an animal shelter! Finding new hobbies is a great way to support lifelong recovery.
Set and Accomplish Goals
A big highlight of being sober is the accomplishment of that sobriety. Take time to basque in the accomplishments of difficult tasks. Setting and accomplishing goals can bring so much satisfaction to life. Setting goals can be a way of challenging oneself and keeping busy. Keeping busy is a great contribution to maintaining sobriety. When setting and accomplishing goals, the mind is too busy and focused to go back into old habits.
Exercise & Dieting
As mentioned, the plan for life after addiction needs to be as detailed as possible. Even simple things like sleeping and eating well can support maintaining sobriety. How will you nourish your body after addiction treatment? Will you eat healthy meals? What will those meals consist of? Where will you grocery shop? How will you budget? Will you share these meals with anyone? Perhaps sharing meals and exercising with a sober community would be beneficial. Eating healthy and exercising regularly are aligned with sobriety. When all actions are aligned with sobriety, relapse is that much less likely to take over.
Plenty of Rest
Sleep should be included in the plan after treatment. When the body is well-rested, the emotions are more stable, and the brain is better able to focus. Self-care acts can be as simple as recognizing when the body is tired and allowing it to rest. Listen to your body and give it a rest when needed.
Have a Plan in Case of Relapse
It may be instinctual after establishing some sober time to think you’re in the clear. After overcoming such an astounding feat, it only makes sense to take a break now, right? Wrong! Life after addiction treatment is a life of hard work. Every moment is a choice of continued sobriety. Temptation lingers and wiggles its way into places least expected. Regardless of how skilled a person is at recognizing and managing triggers, regardless of how stable a sober community a person has for support, regardless of what fun activities have been distracting them from temptations, the urge to use will always be there. Because this truly is a never-ending battle that must be conquered each and every day, a plan for what to do in case of relapse is imperative. If it occurs, recognizing that accidents happen and bouncing back from a fall is vital.
Sometimes things can appear so “black and white”; either you are succeeding or failing. That is not what life after addiction is about. It’s about constantly adjusting things to ensure success is attained. Sometimes relapse occurs. When it does, be prepared to bounce back from the fall. A relapse is not the end of sobriety, and it does not have to be an experience where one spirals out of control. Have a plan to rely on in case the worst occurs. Expect not to relapse, expect the best, but prepare for the worst so it can be survived if it occurs.
Get Help Today
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, seeking help as quickly as possible can be life-saving. After addiction treatment, support must continue. Making a plan is key to continuing life-long sobriety after treatment. The plan should include strategies for recognizing and managing triggers, sober communities to go to for support, daily routines and rituals to stay on the right track, goals, and hobbies to keep life exciting, and tons more. A relapse prevention plan should include a relapse reaction plan. To attain long-term recognition every day takes effort and attention to detail. Recovery is a lot of work, but it’s worth every bit of it!