It doesn’t matter if you were part of an outpatient program or if you were hospitalized at a facility. Although, the situations and challenges might be different, concluding the rehabilitation program can be –and it is supposed to be- both exciting and scary.
Sadly, relapses are more common than what many people think. One of the usual mistakes amongst those who leave rehab is going back to the same old habits, people and places as before. This makes the back to life transition tougher than it already is.
You might ask yourself why is it so important to make these changes? The answer can be resumed in one simple word: associations. When we have an addiction, our brain tends to associate certain stimuli (triggers) with the consumption patterns and their respective emotional and physical response, which Is usually the pleasure or gratification of drinking/ using. This way, every time we are exposed to these stimuli they will trigger our desired to drink.
- It takes a village: During recovery, you will need a solid support system that you can rely on when you feel tempted, lonely, unmotivated or simply want to share details about your journey. This is the time in which you build new and meaningful relationships outside the halfway house and heal the relations with your old friends, family and community. Get them all involved in this process!
- Adapt your environment to your new life: This includes both your house and the places you visit. Find new places of interest and get rid of any article that is linked to your previous addictions (if you feel this might be too tempting, ask someone else to do it for you).
- Change your habits: Recovery is a lifestyle transformation, in which you change self- destructive behavior and habits for new healthy routines. Drink more water, exercise, read a new book, meditate and start eating healthy.
- Set up your post-treatment goals: Setting up new goals for yourself will give you something else to fight for. Start with small and realistic goals and increase their difficulty as you achieve them. Having goals will give you that extra motivation you need in tough days and will give your new life a meaning.
- Don’t fall into new addictions: It is very common to find people who replace old habits for others that are equally destructive like smoking or gambling. To avoid this you have to be very attentive of the internal and external signs that might suggest that you are developing a new compulsive habit.
- Technology can be a great help for long term sobriety. In internet you will find all types of forums and apps especially developed to help people stay sober. The most popular ones are WeConnect, IamSober, and TalkSpace. You can even find Alpha House on FaceBook.
- Get a job and/or find a way to be productive: Not only a job will give you the opportunity to support yourself, cover all your expenses and be more independent but it will also keep you busy. Too much free time can sometimes be counterproductive and tempting. If you’re struggling to get a job, you can look for studies or volunteering options. Even painting your apartment can help take up time.
- Keep your appointments: After the first stage of rehab you will be given a schedule with your future appointments and/or recovery steps. They are all important so make sure to not miss any. In fact, if you feel like you need extra support from the specialists, don’t hesitate to ask for it!
- Have a structured routine: Remember all those new habits you will have to create? Well, you will also have to include them in an organized and structured routine. In this moment of your life, disorder and chaos are the last thing you need as it will affect your emotional and cognitive stability.
The longer you stay sober, the less likely it will be for you to relapse. That’s why you should celebrate and be proud of yourself every day you succeed. You can do this!