Life after rehab can be overwhelming, especially in the first week or two of transitioning from rehab back to normal life. You are no longer in a controlled, scheduled environment that is specifically designed for your own recovery. Now you will have to make your own decisions and use the coping strategies you were taught in rehab to maintain your sobriety. This can be difficult and often anxiety-inducing. However, there are ways that you can stay sober after treatment that are simple to follow and will give you the most success.
Have a Sober Companion
Sober companions, also known as Personal Recovery Assistants (PRAs) are there to provide constant care and support for people who are sustaining their sobriety outside of treatment. They work with the client and their family or close friends to help the client maintain a healthy lifestyle after treatment that properly supports their recovery. PRAs are best for those that need sober transport services, have a home environment where drug or alcohol use takes place, need extra support outside of treatment, want to further their progress in recovery, or are having legal issues that need to be settled. Having the presence of someone who understands how to help you can be calming and keep you on the right track in recovery.
Identify Your Triggers
Triggers are internal or external cues that remind you of your substance abuse. These can be people, places, smells, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and more, that may cause you to crave drugs or alcohol. Common triggers are stress, problems with your job or relationship, being around people that are using or drinking, or triggers in your environment that remind you of using. By identifying your triggers, you can make a plan to avoid them and come up with coping strategies for when you do come across them to help you stay sober.
Educate Yourself on PAWS
PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, can appear anywhere from six months to two years after getting sober. This depends on the severity of the addiction and type of dependency, but it is still something you should be aware of and knowledgeable about. The symptoms can often cause you to relapse if they are not handled properly. This is why you should be aware of what the symptoms look like and how to prepare yourself. Common symptoms include trouble sleeping, depression, anxiety, irritability, and more. If you find yourself experiencing these, contact your doctor or treatment center for help.
Be Aware of Impending Relapse Symptoms
Relapse is not a part of recovery and does not have to happen. However, it is helpful to understand the warning signs of a potential relapse. While relapse can seem to occur in the spur of the moment, it actually builds up over time, exhibiting signs that could have alerted someone to help the individual. Recognizing the stages of relapse and symptoms can help avoid it altogether. The three stages of relapse are emotional relapse, mental relapse, and physical relapse. Common warning signs are:
- Glamorizing past drug or alcohol use
- Hanging around with those that use or drink
- Behaving erratically
- Isolating from friends or family
- Long periods of depression or anxiety
- Job or relationship problems
- Going back to addictive patterns of thinking
Have a Structured Daily Routine
A big reason that treatment facilities for addiction have a structured routine is that it is vital to recovery. A structured routine can keep you on track to achieving your goals, staying productive, avoiding triggers, keeping healthy eating and exercise schedule, and staying away from boredom, which is a common relapse trigger. Your routine should center around your sobriety and include a consistent sleep schedule, eating schedule, exercise schedule, and work schedule. It should also include time for going to aftercare appointments or support groups. This will give you a sense of purpose and keep you on track in your sobriety.
Build a Sober Support Network
One of the most common mistakes people make in recovery is assuming they can handle it all on their own. It is normal not to want to reach out for help, but it is also foolish. Building a sober support network can keep you motivated in your sobriety on the bad days. You can build your network with those you were in treatment with or people you met at a support group. The most important thing is that these people need to be sober and good role models for your recovery. Typically these individuals can empathize with you better than friends and family who haven’t been through addiction. This way you can get advice that you know works and have people to lean on and hold you accountable in your recovery.
Celebrate Your Milestones
Celebrating a sober anniversary will remind you of all the work you have done to get to where you are. It will also remind you of all of the people who helped you get to where you are and hold you accountable in your sobriety. Each year that you spend sober is another reminder of the new life you have built for yourself. You did the hard work to get sober and you are maintaining it. That is a gift and perhaps one of the biggest motivators to stay sober.
At Hired Power, we work to help our clients maintain sober lifestyles after they leave our facility. We believe in sobriety for the long term and know that it is possible with the proper care and support both from the individual and those around them. Creating a relapse prevention plan, having a sober companion, identifying your triggers, and more will help you stay sober, but it is also about taking care of your mental health. By looking for ways to stay positive and diligent in your recovery, we believe that you can successfully maintain it for the long term. Recovery isn’t easy, but it is absolutely worth it. With each passing year that you remain sober, you will continue seeing the good things sobriety brings you and it will become easier to manage over time. For more information about maintaining sobriety after leaving treatment, contact us at (800) 910-9299. Together we can help you progress in your sobriety!