Deciding to enter a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program is a daunting and terrifying step to make. It takes courage and determination to let go and admit you need help. Those who take that step should be encouraged and motivated to stay on the path to sobriety; people struggling or hesitating to commit should also be supported and encouraged to reach out for the help they need. There’s no shortage of information about the hows and whys of getting into a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center- but what do you do after?
Here are five things you should do after completing a rehabilitation program?
Find a Sponsor or Support Group
Your therapists and case managers will likely insist that you find some sort of support network upon leaving rehab; some may even provide references and set up supportive care for you before you are discharge. Listen to them. People in recovery that join support groups or find sponsorship following a rehabilitation program are more likely to remain on a sober path. Some people find living in a sober community helpful in keeping themselves in line. Sponsorship by someone who is further in their recovery is also advantageous as they have experienced the temptations and urges you are likely to have and can bestow wisdom and support through rough patches. Foundations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer resources and community support via meetings and hosted events that help people stay on track.
What’s important to understand about substance abuse is that it is a chronic disease. Simply completing a rehabilitation program doesn’t ‘cure’ you; often they are too short to do more than scratch the surface of causes and steps needed for correcting behavioral issues. Just like all chronic illness, a lapse in treatment can lead to a relapse in the disorder. Your rehab program can assist you with finding the right therapist or counselor to continue the work you began while in rehab. If they cannot or you have any issues with your new treatment option, don’t get discouraged. Finding a professional addiction counselor that works best for you is what’s most important. Once you find the best option for you, stick with it: don’t skip appointments or end your treatment even if you’re feeling confident in your recovery. Relapse can happen at any stage of recovery, but treatment can be instrumental in prevention.
Fill Your Friend Circle With Supportive, Sober People
One of the leading causes of relapse is continuing to expose yourself to the people and places you once associated with drinking or drug use. Though using drugs or drinking does not make them bad or devious people the reality is if you keep them in your life is a risk you cannot afford to take. People who continue to drink and use drugs in your presence do not have your best interest in mind. Part of your recovery should be surrounding yourself in positivity, including the people you allow in your life. Family and friends must understand what addiction truly is and their roles in your journey to recovery. Being open and honest is key, as well as education: most people simply don’t understand what they’ve never experienced.
Practice What You Learned in Your Everyday Life
It’s easy to lose the lessons you learn in rehab once you get back into the world. In an isolated environment focused on recovery, learning and practicing new coping mechanisms is simple enough. It’s applying them when you are faced with real challenges that counts. Remember: nothing that happens in life is worth using again. Recalling the lessons of rehab therapy sessions and life coaching in the moment can be the difference between relapse and sobriety. Meditating or using other healthy alternatives to relieve stress and anxiety comes with no regrets.
Find Purpose in Your Story
You are a survivor of a disease that claims thousands of lives a day. You are a warrior battling each day against a powerful enemy. Your story is valuable and worth telling; your voice could save someone else. Use your experience to be an advocate for addiction recovery even if your audience is small or limited to a friend or family that may need help. If you want to contribute to the fight against addiction on a larger scale, finding local organizations or attending events in a show of support is a great way to be heard.