According to the American Psychological Association (APA), more than 22 million Americans are living in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Each of these individuals has overcome the obsessive and compulsive cycle of addiction. Recovery, however, involves more than just going to rehab. For most people, sustained recovery involves long-term work, personal growth, and commitment.
Navigating life after rehab and figuring out exactly what you need to do after treatment to stay sober can be challenging. Understanding what services are available to you after rehab, what obstacles you may face, and the lifestyle changes you can utilize for your sobriety will help you make the most of your new, sober life.
Rehab Doesn’t “Cure” Your Addiction
Some people go to rehab with the expectation of it curing their addiction. Unfortunately, there is no fool-proof cure for addiction or alcoholism. These conditions are chronic and relapsing diseases that require ongoing management. What rehab does is address the underlying causes of your addiction, help you develop healthy coping skills, and introduce you to useful resources that can help you stay sober.
Before you are discharged from treatment, you will work with your substance abuse counselor to develop a detailed aftercare plan designed to help you navigate life in recovery after rehab. Your aftercare plan may consist of support services provided by the treatment center, local support groups in your community, and suggested lifestyle changes. Utilizing this plan will help you stay sober and manage your addiction on a long-term basis.
Aftercare Services for Addiction Recovery
There are many different kinds of aftercare services you will have at your disposal after you finish rehab. Most people benefit from participating in several of the following options.
The lack of a stable, sober, and supportive environment after rehab can be a major obstacle to overcome in early recovery. People who don’t live in a stable drug- and alcohol-free home may be at an increased risk for relapse. Whether you don’t have stable housing to return to or don’t feel confident in your ability to stay sober in your own home, spending some time living in a sober living home after rehab can benefit you greatly.
Sober living homes are drug- and alcohol-free residences that temporarily house individuals in early recovery. While in sober living, you will live amongst other sober individuals, be subject to random drug testing and breathalyzer checks, and be expected to follow all of the house rules. Many sober homes also require counseling sessions or 12-Step participation to hold you accountable for your recovery plan.
Many addiction treatment centers have a flourishing alumni community that brings together people from all stages of recovery who have completed the rehab program. Alumni communities often host get-togethers, 12-Step meetings, support groups, and team-building activities. Getting involved with your treatment center’s alumni support community can help you develop sober relationships, find support among your peers, and encourage you to become a part of something bigger than yourself and your addiction.
12-Step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are popular support groups that are responsible for helping millions of people get sober. These types of fellowships use a spiritual approach that encourages members to rely on a higher power and the support of their 12-Step group members to stay sober.
While participating in a 12-Step fellowship, you will attend regular meetings, work with a sponsor, and go through each of the 12-Steps. The 12-Steps help repair your relationship with yourself, your loved ones, and a power greater than yourself. These groups can also provide immense support to you during all stages of your life after rehab.
Studies have found that regular and long-term 12-Step meeting attendance encourages sustained sobriety and helps people in recovery achieve their personal goals.
Even though you will participate in counseling during rehab, many people choose to continue having counseling sessions after finishing treatment. After all, healing is an ongoing journey. Unexpected memories, triggers, and challenges may occur throughout your recovery, and going to counseling can help you work through these obstacles. By continuing to receive therapeutic support, you’ll be less likely to relapse.
Many addiction treatment centers have recovery coaches on staff who can help guide you through early life in recovery. A recovery coach is not a therapist or a doctor. Instead, they are similar to a life coach, but they deal with everything related to addiction and recovery.
A recovery coach can help you:
- Find local 12-Step meetings
- Come up with a daily schedule
- Develop your resume
- Get advice and tips for living sober
- Hold yourself accountable for your recovery program
- Answer any questions you may have about recovery
- Connect with local community resources
- Find ways to cope with triggers and cravings
Common Hurdles People Face in Early Recovery
Returning back to daily life after spending time in a rehab facility can be challenging. For many people, recovery involves changing everything about themselves–from their routines and habits to their interests and hobbies. Making these changes while navigating life in sobriety can be confusing, stressful, and overwhelming. You could be faced with numerous challenges, such as:
Finding a New Job
While it’s possible to keep your job under legal protection while you go to rehab, some people quit their jobs before rehab or don’t have a job when they come to rehab. And, like many others in recovery, you may have a huge gap in your resume, have dropped out of school, or have a criminal history. Or, you may just want a fresh start. All of these things can make getting a job difficult. Aftercare services that help you with resume building and vocational training can make getting a job easier.
Getting a Sponsor
Sponsors are people who help guide you through the 12-Steps of recovery in fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). You may feel pressured to find the right sponsor immediately after leaving rehab. For some people, this can be challenging and anxiety-provoking.
Figuring Out Your Finances
If you enter rehab with a lot of debt or little to no savings, you’re not alone. Many people spend all of their finances on drugs and alcohol. Recovery is the perfect time to get your finances in order, pay off old debts, and start saving money for your future. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy to do, and many people experience a lot of stress surrounding finances.
Most people who struggle with addiction have hurt the ones they love in one way or another. Perhaps you have lied to your family or betrayed the trust of your partner. In recovery, you will have an opportunity to make amends with your loved ones and repair broken relationships. The process, however, can be rocky and driven by intense, deeply felt emotions.
Building a Sober Support System
Part of dealing with personal relationships involves getting rid of the people in your life who fuel your addiction and replacing them with a sober support system. If you don’t have any sober friends, early life after rehab can feel lonely. Places you can find sober support include a 12-Step fellowship, your alumni program, or other recovery-related support groups.
Dealing With Legal Repercussions
Addiction increases the risk of impulsive behaviors and criminal activity. Whether you have been court-mandated to treatment, are on parole or probation, or are in the midst of a legal battle, dealing with these types of repercussions can be stressful.
Overcoming Shame and Guilt From the Past
Even though you are sober, you may still experience feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and remorse over the past. These feelings can make you feel hopeless or defeated. The good news is a sponsor, sober support group, and individualized counseling can help you overcome these painful emotions.
Coping with Cravings and Triggers
Various people, places, and things may trigger emotions from your past or make you crave drugs or alcohol. A huge part of life in recovery is learning how to cope with these triggers and cravings–even when they creep up unexpectedly.
By sticking to your aftercare plan as well as making positive lifestyle changes, you can overcome these challenges while remaining sober.
Lifestyle Changes To Help You Stay Sober After Rehab
While participating in aftercare support services can help you cope with many of these obstacles, you can also benefit from making healthy lifestyle changes. A few lifestyle changes that can reduce stress, aid in managing depression and anxiety, and prevent relapse include:
- Attend regular support group meetings
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
- Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
- Get enough exercise and physical activity
- Don’t isolate–be sure to connect with your loved ones and sober support group on a regular basis
- Avoid people, places, and things that trigger you
- Actively practice the coping skills you learned in rehab
- Journal about your thoughts and feelings
- Celebrate milestones in recovery with the ones you love
Start Your Recovery Today With Moving Mountains Recovery
Everyone has their own path to follow when it comes to addiction recovery. Here at Moving Mountains, we’re dedicated to helping you find your path and navigate it with ease. Our program aims to help you find the intrinsic motivation to better yourself and stay sober so recovery doesn’t feel like a task.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, please give us a call today. One of our trusted admissions coordinators is happy to help you begin your recovery journey.