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Life After Rehab: 6 Tips To Help You Stay Sober After Addiction Treatment


It is often said, “recovery is a lifelong process”. Completing a substance abuse rehabilitation program is not the end of your recovery – but rather the beginning. Many people leave rehab with conflicting emotions. Some may be excited to leave treatment, while others may be fearful of leaving the facility and facing relapse. 

Substance abuse treatment programs generally only last a few months. Many individuals feel safe, within the confines of a structured inpatient program. Adjusting to life after rehab may be difficult. You may find yourself dealing with life without the comfort of onsite counselors and peers. Situations may arise that trigger you to use it again. Rehab and treatment programs are designed to equip you with the tools you need to cope with difficult situations while maintaining your sobriety.

Make a Post-Treatment Plan

Whether you’re returning home after rehab at an inpatient facility or reaching the end of an outpatient program, it is important to develop a plan to maintain sobriety. This is generally a plan you will create when working with your individual therapist or case manager in rehab. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a plan that includes continuing care after treatment improves their chances of staying off drugs or alcohol.

  • Connect with reliable support, including health care professionals, friends, and family members, to assemble a recovery team.
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle.
  • Manage situations that may trigger the desire to use drugs or drink alcohol.

Most professional treatment programs offer aftercare and alumni services. This is also called continuing care, disease management, or recovery support services. Generally, these programs are overseen by trained addiction professionals, such as case managers and recovery coaches, and may include any combination of the following:

  • Individual or group counseling or therapy
  • Support groups
  • Medication
  • Recovery checkups in-person or by phone
  • Drug testing and feedback
  • Resources related to employment, housing, legal needs, and relationships
  • Alumni programs and activities

Find a Support Group.

Drug and alcohol rehab programs generally incorporate recovery support groups. For example, many individuals attend 12-Step meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). 12-Step programs such as these encourage fellowship, ultimately helping recovering individuals identify with their peers and feel less alone when dealing with hardships. 

Once treatment is over, it may be tempting to skip meetings to enjoy time with family and friends. However, attending support group meetings and staying connected to other addicts is a vital part of maintaining your sobriety. 12-Step fellowships encourage individuals to learn more about their addiction and sets the tone for what life looks like without drugs and alcohol. In addition to being inspirational, these support groups enable recovering individuals a safe, anonymous environment to discuss stressful and uncomfortable feelings and experiences. 

Make New Sober Friends

Addictions may begin through the form of peer pressure and the influence of other people. Studies have shown that peer pressure is a major component of drug use for teens and young adults. For example, teens who hang out with drug-abusing friends are more likely to use drugs than teens who hang out with sober friends. 

The same is true for recovering adults. Individuals who build and maintain friendships surrounding their drug use often have a harder time staying sober. Triggers and the temptation to use can plant the seed for potential relapse. Finding sober friends and support from other sober individuals is vital to maintaining sobriety.

Maintain Your Mental Health

Leaving treatment and returning to your old routine can bring about stress and anxiety. This is especially true for individuals in early recovery. It’s important that you immerse gratitude in your daily routine and avoid focusing on the negatives. Taking the time to acknowledge the things you’re grateful for will have an overall positive impact on your perception.

Exercise and meditation play a key role in your mental health. Taking a few minutes to quiet the noise in your head can help clear the looming clouds of anxiety. Regular exercise is shown to lower levels of anxiety and depression as well as enhancing overall mood from a natural influx of endorphins. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed, it is never a bad idea to make an appointment with your therapist.

Be of Service

In addiction rehab, people spend a significant amount of time discussing past traumas, their addictions, and how to improve their lives. However, research suggests that helping others is a vital part of the recovery process. In fact, 12-Step fellowships require the recovering individual to be of service to others because it is guaranteed to ensure their sobriety. When working with another alcoholic or addict, vulnerability, experiences, wisdom, and encouragement is shared. Senior members of 12-Step fellowships work one-on-one with newcomers by sharing their experience, strength, and hope.

Other ways you can be of service after rehab:

  • Volunteer at an animal shelter 
  • Participating in a soup kitchen
  • Serving others through a church
  • Visiting elders at a senior care facility
  • Mentoring a child in need
  • Service commitment in a 12-Step fellowship
  • Volunteer at Habitat for Humanity

Acts of service cultivate a sense of purpose and hope for recovering addicts in order to maintain long-term sobriety.

Be Aware of Signs of Relapse

Addiction is a chronic disease of the brain. Studies show that more than 85% relapse and return to drug use within the first year of sobriety. This doesn’t mean that addiction treatment is not effective. It simply means that change is difficult – especially for individuals in recovery. It is important for you to understand where your vulnerability exists and what your individual triggers are. For some, feelings of sadness, changes in weather, stress, or even happiness may trigger obsessive thoughts of using. Whatever the trigger, thoughts can rush in and fester in the brain. If entertained, the thoughts may become overwhelming until a relapse occurs. 

Friends and family members can be helpful in objectively identifying major precursors to relapse. If family members are properly educated they can help troubleshoot and avoid potentially dangerous situations. While family members cannot stop a relapse from taking place, they can speak out when they sense trouble arising. Overall, identifying and creating a relapse prevention plan is the key to preventing relapse. 

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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Agape Treatment Center for substance abuse embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that serves regardless of circumstances. We provide individuals all over the country with the opportunity to achieve the gift of lasting sobriety.

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