There’s more to recovery than just abstinence and its called getting a sober life. Yes, stopping the use of drugs is the ultimate goal, but this is only the beginning. Addiction goes beyond using illicit substances. Recovery is a way of life that dominates a person’s day-to-day activities. Everything they do becomes about finding, securing, and using drugs.
This is why it’s important to realize that addiction is a disease that never goes away. Finding your way in a sober life is about learning to live without drugs and alcohol. Every day can be a battle. However, there are things you can do to cope, regain control, and start living for you again. Keep reading to learn more.
Life After Rehab
Many people who go through a rehab program spend time actively getting past withdrawals and working closely with treatment professionals. Every day is scheduled and focused entirely on their sobriety, recovery and building a sober life. Being surrounded by supportive people in a controlled environment is necessary for many to get through the initial stages of recovery. They learn about recovery and work to develop coping skills that can replace their unhealthy coping mechanisms.
However, everyone eventually needs to leave intensive rehab and reenter their lives. The lives where they were previously active drug users who relied on substances to control things. This is where things can get difficult. Directly after transitioning from an inpatient or intensive rehab program, many people feel determined and positive about their futures. They go back into the world with all of the information they’ve learned fresh in their minds.
Unfortunately, this “honeymoon stage” of recovery usually only lasts between day 15 and 45 after initial sobriety. Then, many people hit what’s called “the wall” phase. This is the time when real-life problems are really coming back, and someone addicted might experience the urge to start using again.
The wall phase can also involve depression, a loss of energy, and other mental and physical symptoms. During this phase, it can seem easy to return to old habits. This is why it’s essential to have a plan in place to combat these feelings before they start.
Changing Your Habits
One of the surest things about recovery is that your life can never go back to being the way that it was. Your old routines, habits, and coping skills weren’t working and your sober life will take priority. Hopefully, you’ve learned how to replace these parts of your life with healthier alternatives.
Before you leave rehab, meet with a treatment professional and identify triggers. These are the stressors or situations that prompted drug or alcohol abuse for you. Triggers can contribute to a relapse if they aren’t properly addressed.
There are some triggers that can be avoided altogether. If you used every time you went to a specific bar or a person’s house, then stay away from these places. The same approach will work for people who you used with, or who enabled your addiction.
But there are also triggers that we can’t just steer clear of. Stress, anxiety, work, fatigue, and even holidays are going to happen whether you try to avoid them or not. It’s important to try and minimize these factors as much as possible while employing healthy coping skills.
Take a careful inventory of your daily, weekly, and monthly activities when you were actively using. Look for habits that contributed to or enabled your substance abuse and destructive behaviors. Then, try and replace many of these with healthy habits.
Planning your days in your new sober life can help you feel more in control and prepared to handle your obligations. Just make sure that you also prepare yourself to cope when things go wrong, and never be afraid to ask for help!
Exploring Outpatient Treatment Options
An aftercare plan is going to be essential to succeeding in your recovery. Addiction has no cure, but it can be controlled with ongoing effort. This means that you’ll need to find a way to get regular treatment of some kind after returning home.
Most treatment professionals can help you find local resources like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, counseling centers, medication-assisted treatment facilities, and even individual sponsors. It’s a good idea to keep a schedule of these activities so you can plan for regular attendance, and so you can reach out when you’re struggling.
Peer counseling is a great way to connect with someone who really understands addiction in a personal way. This is also something to consider doing when you feel stable in your recovery journey. Those with addiction who help others have a better chance of staying sober. Just make sure that you’re in a good place with your recovery before trying to take on that type of responsibility.
How to Handle a Crisis
Many people who struggle with addiction understand that bad things happen. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, and it’s easy to go from having a normal day to full on crisis mode in just a few hours. When this happens, it’s easy for that external crisis to turn into a justification to use again.
Whether it’s a family argument, job loss, financial issues, a personal tragedy, or something else; anything that disrupts your day can be a threat to your sobriety. When you’re feeling vulnerable, slow down and breathe before reacting. Then, reach out for support.
You can contact a sponsor or a sober friend or family member for immediate help. They’ll be there to support you and can help you cope with the situation in a healthy way. It’s also beneficial to take an inventory of your emotions and practice mindfulness techniques.
Living a sober life means that self-care is necessary in times of crisis. This means taking the time to see to your needs and perform tasks that help you to feel calm and balanced. You can also reach out to a treatment professional to talk about coping skills and to build a plan for managing your stress.
Success in Your Sober Life
Just remember that you’re never alone, and it takes real strength to ask for help. You can live your very best sober life with the right treatment plan, a positive attitude, and the drive to push through your challenges.