While many people go out of state for drug treatment programs, life after rehab starts with moving home. For some people, however, it’s better to move away permanently from the place where addiction took hold. By going away—and similarly, staying put after drug rehab—people recovering from alcohol and drug addiction are better able to minimize triggers, or the people, places, and things that prompted their addiction in the first place. Ultimately, however, recovery is not about where you are, it’s about what’s going on inside; you can get sober anywhere, and you can stay sober anywhere. There is life after addiction—we promise!
What to Expect During the First Year
While it only takes a few weeks to detox, it can take months—typically, at least 90 days—for someone in recovery to complete a drug treatment program. Once “out,” you’re expected to live life on life’s terms, and for most people, that can feel pretty raw at first. While in rehab, there was structure; now, you will have to work hard at maintaining that structure in order to prevent relapse.
Tips to Handle Your First Year Sober
Once you get out of rehab, you will have to maintain your sobriety with less physical and emotional support. Here are some of the things we’ve found to be most useful:
- Set a schedule that revolves around and enhances your sobriety. If you have to set strict boundaries with family members and friends, don’t be afraid to do so.
- Don’t be overconfident that your sobriety will stick without effort. It takes work to manage your triggers and cravings, so keep up with your recovery program.
- Use tools to cope with stress, anxiety and depression—often associated with post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These include keeping it simple, writing a journal, not isolating yourself, talking about your feelings, and staying physically active through exercise.
- If you’re single, resist dating during the first year of recovery so you can focus on yourself. When you do feel you’re ready to start dating, go slow, be honest, talk to your therapist, and always put your sobriety first.
How to Avoid Relapse
Handling stress is a major factor in preventing relapse, and how you do that depends on the tools that you have developed to cope with triggers, emotional ups and downs, and physical cravings. Relapse is part of a process, and often it’s brought on by exhaustion, being dishonest, frustration, self-pity, and lack of discipline. Some ways to avoid relapsing include:
- Make time for hobbies. These can be healthy distractions or creative outlets that give your life a sense of purpose.
- Gradually get back into work and school. Don’t expect too much, and don’t try to do it all right away.
- Renew and rebuild damaged relationships. These can give your life meaning and allow you a network to lean on during the tough times.
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