Life after rehab - the next steps to success

For many individuals, life after rehab is worrisome. When you enter back into the day-to-day life you’ve lived, everything will be different. How will you embrace your loved ones and work to build your new life when you are still facing the challenges of recovery? Life after drug rehab is not a simple process, but with outstanding help and guidance, you can move forward with the best possible first step.

Know the Risks

It is possible to hide under a rock and hope you never go through a relapse. But, being back in society means the risks are high. Understanding these risks truly can help individuals avoid the worst outcome. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse provides some very clear information – as many as 40 to 60 percent of individuals who have used drugs and are in rehab face the possibility of drug relapse. Many individuals view drug addiction as a disease, not a decision. When you do, you will find that the statistics for drug abuse relapse are quite similar to those who suffer chronic illness relapse.

In other words, relapse is always a possibility. Yet, like any other disease today, if you apply the right tools and work to achieve and maintain recovery goals, you have the ability to overcome the worst.

Early Recovery

The first component of drug treatment is detox, the process of removing drugs from your body. Then, you work through treatment, which aims to help you understand not just what happened but why. The next phase is recovery, but it is not a simple, straight shot. Rather, there are several phases to work through.

Abstinence is imperative after drug rehab. Science indicates that those who work through the first 90 days of recovery by abstaining from any type of drug use are most likely to do well long term. Many people remain inpatient during this phase of recovery. Others go home and must balance day-to-day life demands with their recovery efforts. At home, 12-step meetings will continue to be a very important part of your long term recovery.

What Challenges Could You Face During Recovery?

Succeeding after drug rehab is a process that involves understanding the risks. Before you leave drug therapy, you will spend time working with your team to ensure that you have a plan moving forward. And, a component of this plan will be understanding what risks you are facing in both the short and long-term. Identifying your risk factors and creating a plan for overcoming them is critically important.

Here is a look at a few key areas that tend to be concerns:

Common areas for concern

Family Situations: Group therapy continues to be important, but family situations can jeopardize your progress. In some situations, individuals will need to remove people from their lives that either put them on the path to drug use or do not support their recovery effort. Blame, anger, and frustration cannot be beneficial here. If your family member is not supportive of your recovery, he or she should not play a daily role in your life.

Social Situations: Most individuals will need to actively work to remove themselves from scenarios in which there is a risk of relapse. For example, if you spent a lot of time with a group of friends who used drugs, do not go back to those individuals. The risks are very high for relapse in these situations, no matter how strong you are. Social situations must be managed carefully — especially early on.

School and Work: Getting into a routine of going to school or work is important. Routines help minimize the risk of times when there is a risk that you will use again. Yet, many people will find going back to the same locations difficult. If there is any history of drug use with those who you went to school with or those who you work with, creating a barrier is important. Some people benefit from a fresh start.

How to Avoid Relapse Risks

A large part of life after rehab is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and actively avoiding relapse. To do so, individuals must develop a plan to handle various levels of scariness in a positive manner. Here are a few concerns.

  • Avoid overconfidence. Individuals who believe they are doing well in recovery may allow themselves to slip back into bad habits. This could include spending time in the wrong environment or evening using.
  • Work to actively avoid emotional triggers. Most individuals will work with their counselors to understand their triggers – situations or experiences that make it more likely that an individual will use again. Monitoring triggers like this is critical.
  • Stress continues to play a role in your life, as it does to everyone. However, individuals who are in recovery need to find new coping mechanisms. It is never possible to remove all stresses from life, but it is possible to find new ways to cope with stress in a healthy manner.

Success after drug rehab means focusing every day on just that day. Instead of worrying about what is to come, create a plan for yourself that keeps you out of the risk areas for drug or alcohol use.

What Life After Drug Rehab Looks Like

After leaving drug rehab, you should focus on rebuilding yourself and your relationships. To do this, you will need to have coping skills in line. Many individuals find value in continuing their rehab as an outpatient. Self-help groups are a good area for this. In addition to maintaining your mental health, you may also have physical conditions and illnesses that require seeing your doctor on a regular basis.

Day-to-day life will become what you want it to be. It will take time. You will need to work through the process of redeveloping relationships and fostering new ones. Most individuals facing drug addiction recovery benefit from having a strong support system. If you do not have friends and family outside of your substance abuse world, work to develop new opportunities. You’ll get there with the help (and ongoing care) of your counseling team. Your success in recovery depends on your ability to consistently work towards achieving abstinence every single day, one day at a time.

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