Steps to Take After Leaving Residential Rehab
Residential rehab facilities provide a safe environment where you can begin your recovery journey surrounded by addiction professionals and other people who are receiving treatment for substance abuse. When the time comes to leave residential rehab, you will need to take certain steps to be sure you stay on track.
Stick to your follow-up treatment plan. When you leave rehab, there will most likely be a follow-up or after-care treatment plan. For some people, this includes living in a sober house or a halfway house, or it may include outpatient counseling. Whatever your treatment providers have recommended for follow-up, stick to the suggested plan. Although at times life may feel overwhelming if you’re juggling your commitment to recovery with work and family demands, keeping therapy appointments is very important to long-term success. The fact that you are no longer in a residential facility doesn’t mean you’re cured. The more suggestions you follow, the better your chances for remaining sober.
Get a sponsor or sober companion. It is important to have someone to talk to who truly understands the struggles you may be experiencing. Find someone who is open to questions and phone calls, someone that you can attend meetings with and count on for advice and support. Cultivate friendships with sober people. Addiction is often triggered by peer pressure. It helps to have sober friends to bring to social events to reduce temptation and help shield you from peer pressure from those who aren’t sober.
Join support groups. The heart of recovery from substance abuse is found in support groups. The most successful support groups are 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and when you first leave rehab the best thing you can do is structure your day around a meeting. There should be at least one meeting a week that you attend without fail. The more meetings you attend, the more recovering people you will meet. With more people in your recovery network, you will have the opportunity to hear a wide variety of experiences and suggestions for living life sober. If you object to the spiritual overtones of 12-step programs, there are several alternative support groups such as SMART Recovery. Meetings shouldn’t be skipped on a regular basis to spend time with family or friends who are not in recovery. There is a lot about addiction that your family may not understand, and it’s imperative that you get support from people who do understand.
Take it 24 hours at a time. Don’t try to plan the rest of your life. No matter what your problems are, you will find they are a lot more manageable if you try to face only one day at a time.
Develop healthy habits. Addiction is a physical, mental and spiritual illness. During your active addiction, your body has probably taken a beating. Spend some time focusing on your physical recovery by learning to eat healthy foods and preparing nourishing meals. Get some exercise by going walking, biking or swimming. Feelings of boredom, depression or anxiety can be relieved by exercising regularly.
Remain vigilant. During residential treatment you probably were able to identify people or places that might put you at risk for relapse. Don’t let your guard down. Remaining sober requires that you continue to be alert to things or people that could trigger a relapse. You may find it helpful to keep a journal and notice if there are things that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Growing feelings of sadness or dissatisfaction could be signs of an impending relapse. When you begin experiencing negative feelings, go to a meeting, call a sober friend or talk to an addiction professional. Recognizing signs that things aren’t going well can save you from the pain and struggles that accompany a relapse.
Enjoy Your Life Sober
There is no graduation date for recovering from substance abuse. Leaving residential rehab is a milestone on your journey. It shows the progress you are making but recovery will continue throughout your life. Learning to live life sober is an exciting, beautiful thing. You are about to experience a new freedom and a new happiness. Enjoy the journey!