The road to sobriety is extremely difficult for many people. However, in a sense, the real work begins once a person leaves rehab and attempts to recover their previous life. One comparison is that it is very much like emerging from a cave. The darkness of addiction is replaced by the resumption of a normal life, including work, school, family and a brighter future.
Taking It Slow
Some people come out of rehab energized and optimistic about their life after addiction. However, once they try to get back into normal life, they find it harder than they expected. The danger is that fatigue and disappointment might lead to depression and relapse. The key to avoiding this after addiction recovery is to ease back into normal life slowly. Don’t attempt to do too much too soon.
Newly sober people may also return to their old life and realize that they did a lot of damage to people around them. Even if those people are happy to see them after addiction recovery, they may still have buried grudges towards their previous behavior. The best practice here is to recognize the damage and go above and beyond to fix it. It’s very important for newly sober people to have a strong circle of support around them throughout recovery.
Talk to Friends and Family
A formerly addicted person has generally spent long hours in therapy learning how to communicate, among other things. Talking to friends and family about expectations is an important step upon leaving rehab. An addicted person’s social circle will have gotten used to seeing them and dealing with them as an addict. For example, a person who fell into addiction in their early 20s before getting sober in their 30s will see that life is very different on the other side. Talking to friends and family allows both sides to see what is realistic for the present.
Seek Out Sober Friends
Some people come out of addiction recovery thinking that they can go back to their previous social circle, which is very often the people they used drugs with. However, that is generally a bad idea unless those people have also gone through rehab. Sometimes they will express support for the formerly addicted person’s new lifestyle but by their own continued substance abuse, this support is tenuous at best. Another problem is that the memories with these people likely involve substance abuse. The temptation to rekindle said memories by using will be too great in many cases.
Rehab centers tend to emphasize the importance of exercise and finding new activities to replace substance abuse. It’s vital to continue this line of thought once leaving rehab. Addiction usually takes up a lot of a person’s time, and the absence of this activity creates a vacuum. A newly sober person should immediately seek out something new to fill the vacuum. This can include picking up a new hobby, volunteer work, continuing education or getting into sports. Exercising has a number of benefits for people coming out of rehab, including the following:
- Gaining self-confidence
- Mending the damage of drug use on physical health
- Occupying time
Focus on Diet
Another aspect of getting healthy is diet. Malnutrition tends to be a serious problem for drug and alcohol abusers. It’s not necessary to pursue a fad diet but instead focus on cutting out junk and eating healthy food. Fresh produce, fish and lean meat should be the main focus of every meal. Avoid sugar, overly processed carbs and items that are high in salt.
Proper Sleep Schedule
Drug and alcohol abuse typically strongly disrupt a person’s sleep schedule. Getting enough rest helps both mind and body recover from the ravages of substance abuse. Upon leaving rehab, it’s essential to get eight hours of sleep every night. Proper sleep contributes to more energy, alertness and a stronger immune system.
Perhaps the most crucial step to recovery upon leaving rehab is looking forward to the future. Spend time figuring out goals and plans and then put them into motion.