Adapting To Your Sober Life After Rehab
Residential treatment in a rehab center is a transformative experience. You spend your time there not only detoxing from the substances that have been making your life unmanageable, but also working on yourself and the way you see the world. You learn skills to help you stay sober, as well as more effective ways to communicate with the people around you.
It’s no surprise that many people leaving rehab have anxiety about adapting to their new lives. Rehab can be more real than any other time in your life. But it can also feel like a dress rehearsal for the outside world.
You may be unsure you can put the principles you’ve learnt into practice. You may be scared of facing certain people. Situations that have triggered you in the past can look very daunting when you’re sober.
There’s also the fact that you’ve changed but the other people in your life may not have. They won’t necessarily understand your transition and expect you to live life the way you did before rehab. It is also difficult discussing your experience with them, as they don’t have the same vocabulary as you.
The good news is that there are measures you can put in place and steps you can take to make the transition as smooth as possible. You won’t be going into a life without the support you need. There are people and resources that will help you adapt to a life of sobriety outside of rehab.
Rehab centers understand just how important the period after rehab is, and offer aftercare programs. These programs continue to provide you with the kind of support you had in rehab. They will give you the opportunity to continue seeing your therapist and psychiatrist. They may have support groups with the people who were in rehab with you, who are going through the same process as you.
They may also offer courses that continue what you’ve learnt in the center. These include relapse prevention courses that build on the preparation you did while in rehab.
It is also important that your family is as much a part of the aftercare process as possible. Your success in living a sober life will have a lot to do with the people who are the biggest influences in your life. Furthermore, they have taken on certain roles in relation to you as an addict, and will have a tough time adapting to how you now live life.
Many rehab centers offer family therapy or at least educational talks. The more they understand addiction and sobriety, the more equipped they will be to support you rather than hinder you.
Your rehab center may encourage you to go to daily NA or AA meetings for a certain period of time. Many take a 90-day approach, during which you attend a meeting every day and after which you continue going at least weekly.
You can make the most out of going to meetings by becoming part of your local sober community. The author, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., famously said that the 12 Step program was one of humanity’s greatest inventions. He said this not in context of the steps themselves, but in context of the principles of community that underlie it. Humans do better when they have strong, supportive communities. Communities that identify with each other based on shared goals rather than shared antipathies. There is no better example of this than a sober community.
Becoming a part of a sober community means more than going to meetings, although that can be the start. It means accepting their help and possibly getting a sponsor. It means giving to others when you have the experience and help to give. It also means taking part in the get togethers organized, planning committees for meetings and events, and taking the opportunities to speak at meetings and events.
A strong sober community is one of your best resources, and it allows you to take an essential part of the rehab experience with you.
One of the biggest dangers to sobriety is “free time.” That does not refer to time you have to relax or have fun. Free time is when you have more time than you know what to do with. It’s during that time that the urge for distraction creeps in, and your old habits still feel like a solution. Unfortunately, many recovering addicts are not going back to jobs, and will find themselves with a lot of this free time.
The solution to this is not to fill every minute with something. That may keep the problem at bay but can break down pretty easily. Rather, creating a structure for yourself can eliminate the problem entirely.
This involves committing to certain activities throughout the day. Exercise is an important aspect in keeping healthy, emotionally and physically. Hobbies keep you feeling fulfilled and mindful of what is important to you. Giving these things the importance they deserve will help you keep your feelings manageable.
An occupational therapist (OT) can be very helpful in creating structure and keeping to it. They can help you retain the skills you learned in rehab and take them into the outside world. Rehab centers will have an OT or someone with similar training who will be the support you need in this.
Putting Yourself First
After leaving rehab, it’s important to remember that you need to put yourself first. Your sobriety must be the highest priority in your life.
This might involve removing yourself from the toxic influence of certain people. It may even require you to take a break from people who simply don’t know how to support you. This doesn’t need to be permanent, but while you are transitioning to life outside of rehab, you need to take all the advantages you can.
Over time, staying sober will become much easier. Do what it takes to stay sober in the first few months. Afterwards, you can reassess what’s working and what you need going forward.