Completing a rehabilitation program is a huge step in recovery, but it doesn’t mean that you have solved your problem.
Remember, recovery is a daily practice and must be a priority if you are to continue progressing.
The transition from rehab to “normal” life can be a trying period, but it doesn’t have to be unnecessarily challenging. Here are some dos and don’ts to consider after getting out of rehab.
- Make new friends.
You must leave your old friends who use and make new, sober friends. As much as you would like to believe that you can keep ties to old friends without being pulled back into the tide of substance, it is a risky endeavor that is not worth the pain of falling back into old patterns.
This isn’t to say that you can never be friends with those people again, but if you are just getting out of rehab, you have to take initiative to practice self-care. Hanging out with the people you used to use with is a recipe for disaster.
- Get involved.
Getting involved in your community and/or seeking outpatient meetings will keep you active in recovery. Getting involved means that you are taking an active role in your recovery, which only reinforces your commitment to sustaining your sobriety.
There are plenty of organizations in the Sacramento area that support the transition back into “real life” such as therapy, group meetings, and other support groups.
Being among like-minded folk who understand and have been through a similar affliction can help curb feelings of being all alone or being unable to relate with those around you.
- Follow your recovery plan.
First off, that means you must make a recovery plan before you leave rehab. The more detailed plan you have, the more likely you are to be able to stick to it. A recovery plan usually includes a support group, sponsor, and/or therapy.
It’s important to also include a plan for self-care that will cover things like eating a healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, and exercising in order to keep your mind and body focused on healing. If you are dedicating time and effort to fueling your body, you are less likely to fall into a trap of self-destruction.
- Get help if you’re struggling.
Don’t even think about throwing in the towel if you happen to relapse in the months following rehab. Unfortunately, even people who have been sober for decades relapse; it’s a symptom of the disease. Relapsing does not erase the progress that you’ve made.
Rather than beating yourself up, consider relapse as a sign that you need to reassess your recovery plan. If you feel like you’ve been doing everything you can, then it may be time to ask for help.
If you tell a sponsor or support group right away that you relapsed, you will free yourself from falling into the shame spiral that will only lead you to further feelings of wanting to give up.
- Don’t underestimate your disease.
Completing rehabilitation and facing life again is an accomplishment you probably can’t even begin to recognize. It’s a huge accomplishment. Addiction does not care who you are or where you come from. Just like heart disease or cancer, it is a brutal force that should never be underestimated for its ability to destroy.
By not underestimating the power of the disease, you are more likely to take precautionary action in protecting yourself.
- Don’t fall into dangerous behavior or emotions.
You may feel as though you are being selfish by making special accommodations, but self-care is critical to the success of your sobriety. Behavior is intertwined with emotion. If you start behaving out of alignment with what makes you feel good, you are more likely to end up falling down the rabbit hole of depressing thoughts.
It’s important to recognize these thoughts before they cause you to inflict harm on yourself.
- Don’t spend unnecessary time in places that serve as triggers.
Obviously, if you go to a bar, you are going to want to drink. If you go to a party where there are alcohol and/or drugs, you are going to want to use. If you go to an old friend’s who you used to use with, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. The key is to simply not put yourself in those places in the first place.
On the other hand, it’s also important that you stay away from places that are emotionally charged, especially in the early stages of sobriety. This means, in some cases, avoiding certain family members who have the potential of pushing you over the edge. Be present where you are and stay proactive.
- Don’t replace one addiction with another.
This is perhaps one of the hardest things because we often associate addiction with a specific substance. But addiction takes form in all shapes and sizes, from exercise to food. The key is to practice moderation. Too much of anything is no good.
- Don’t get complacent.
The moment you think that you have your addiction beat is the moment you open the doors to vulnerability. Letting one thing on your recovery slide will eventually cause a domino effect. Take care for each part of your recovery plan. If you start to slip, remember that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to treat yourself with compassion and care.