Graduating from a rehab program is an enormous accomplishment for which you should be very proud. Successfully completing a treatment program shows that you are committed to fighting your addiction. It’s important to remember that the work required to live a sober life doesn’t stop when you leave a rehab facility. Now is your chance to apply the things you learned to your day-to-day life.
You have an opportunity to really change your life. Maintaining positive changes from rehab will take proactive effort and reinforcement. To avoid the trappings of your former addictive habits, and bolster your new healthy lifestyle, have the following supports in place:
A Network of Sober People
Sober contacts can be your most valuable tools during recovery and they can also become lifelong friends. You should be able to call these people if you’re struggling with cravings, or if you just need to talk. Staying sober can seem lonely at first but there is a vibrant recovery community at your fingertips. Pick up the phone and call a sober contact. A good place to start such a network, if you haven’t already created one with others in treatment, is to attend peer support meetings like Al-Anon.
Clean and Sober Housing
Secure a place to live where you won’t be unnecessarily exposed to alcohol when you first leave rehab. It can be very hard to maintain early sobriety when you have roommates who drink. Even if they offer to hide or lock up the alcohol, the temptation will still be there. If you are having trouble finding a place, look for any transitional housing associated with your treatment center or try Oxford House, a nationwide network of housing for people in recovery.
Maintain Your Physical Health
Many people in recovery have neglected their overall physical health during their addiction. It’s important to break this habit once you leave treatment. Take some time to learn about nutrition and how it affects your stress and energy level, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the produce section of your local grocery store. Be sure to see a doctor for any medical issues and keep up with your dental needs. Your recovery journey can only benefit from a healthy lifestyle. Start treating your body like a temple and you’ll start to feel better in all other areas of your life.
Be Present; Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
Be mindful of how you are feeling. Tapping into your emotional and mental health can help you live your life to the fullest and avoid relapse. Things like prayer, yoga, and meditation can aid your recovery. They allow you an opportunity to quiet your mind, evaluate your mental state, and refocus on your recovery goals. If this seems overwhelming, start with something simple like taking 10 minutes each morning to write down your goals.
Activities to Fill Your Time
This could be a job, school, a regular schedule of outpatient groups – or perhaps a combination of these. Many treatment centers offer continued-care programs specifically tailored to meet these needs and to ensure that graduates stay on the road to recovery. Being active in the recovery community will help you keep your addiction at bay and form lifelong bonds with like-minded people.
Leaving rehab can be scary but it is an opportunity to build a structured and productive lifestyle. It’s time to take back control and focus on living a fulfilling life.
About the Author
Kathleen Esposito is a certified addictions counselor in the Pacific Northwest. She helps individuals recover from drug, alcohol and gambling dependencies through group and individual therapy and regularly speaks at treatment centers.