Completing a rehab program is a major accomplishment in itself—of the 23.5 million Americans who could benefit from addiction treatment, only 11 percent get the help they need.1 However, rehab is only the first step on your lifelong recovery journey. After you leave the treatment center, returning to a normal routine of work, family, friends and activities can be a real adjustment. It can be helpful to have a plan in place and know the challenges that may await. This article covers a few things to keep in mind as you navigate life after rehab.
Before you leave rehab, it's important to have a game plan in place for aftercare. Your aftercare plan may include some of these options:
- Individual therapy: Many recovering individuals opt to continue therapy after rehab has ended. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people understand any underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse and address these issues in a constructive manner.
- 12-step meetings: Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can be tremendous sources of support and guidance during recovery. Meetings of these groups provide opportunities to interact with people in all stages of recovery and learn from the experiences of others.
- Support groups: If you're not comfortable with the spiritual component of 12-step programs, an alternative support group may be a better option.
Developing a Social Life After Rehab
If most of your socializing used to revolve around drinking or using, you may feel like you need to build a brand-new social life in recovery. However, it's not that difficult to fill your time with drug and alcohol-free activities that can also provide opportunities to meet like-minded people. A few activities to try include:
- Volunteer work
- Taking classes
- Learning new hobbies
These activities can help you develop a new social life, and they can also help stave off the feelings of boredom and loneliness that sometimes accompany recovery.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and the risk of relapse hovers around 40 to 60 percent.2 While those statistics may seem grim, there's no need to be discouraged. You can greatly reduce the risk of relapse by being aware of your personal triggers and taking steps to handle them. It is probably best for you to avoid bars, clubs and parties where alcohol or drugs might be present. You may also find that you need to distance yourself from people you previously drank or used with. Avoidance isn't the only way to manage triggers, but steering clear of tempting or difficult situations can go a long way toward preventing a possible relapse.
Having a good support system can also help with relapse prevention—if you find yourself struggling with the urge to use or telling yourself you can handle just one drink, reach out to a trusted friend or sponsor for support.
Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, and the transition to life after rehab isn't always easy. Being proactive and knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. With a good aftercare plan and a solid support network, you can make a smooth adjustment to post-rehab life.