I Just Completed Drug Rehab, Now What? [5 Simple Tips]
Graduating from a drug rehab program is a huge step in anyone’s recovery and it is certainly something to be proud of. The courage and willingness that it takes to admit you have a drug or alcohol problem and enter into a drug rehab program is something that many people take years to muster. During a stay in a drug rehab program you probably had a lot of time to take a close look at your substance abuse issues, as well as yourself and your family relationships. All of these things are critical to long term sobriety, but completing drug rehab is only the first step in a lifelong journey.
One of the most common fears for those who are in a drug rehab program is not having a good idea of what they are going to do when they get out. That along with the anxiety of relapsing causes many to have mixed feelings about their graduation day. This guide is designed to help lessen any fears about getting out of drug rehab and draw out a clear path that you will be able to follow to success. While not all of these suggestions may apply to you, it can help to give you a general idea of the actions that most successfully recovering addicts and alcoholics take in order to maintain their sobriety after drug rehab.
Have a plan before you leave drug rehab:
Whatever your plans are once you get out of drug rehab, the single most important thing is having one. There a lot of different options that people can take advantage of such as outpatient and aftercare programs which most drug rehabs offer for their patients. These programs are often invaluable as they allow people to maintain some of the professional support that they relied on while in treatment after they are trying to rebuild their lives.
While there are plenty of options for those looking to extend their treatment on an outpatient basis, the important message here is to have a plan. Many drug rehabs have case managers which are there to help figure out aftercare plans for patients and are able to schedule intake appointments before they even leave inpatient treatment. This helps to reduce stress as you will already know where and when your outpatient or aftercare program will begin. It is usually best to start your outpatient or aftercare program as soon as possible once leaving drug rehab as the first few days out of treatment can often be the most difficult for people.
If you are still in treatment and are curious about participating in an aftercare program of some sort, talk to the staff and they should be able to guide you. If you have already graduated from a drug rehab program and are interested in options for continued care then most cities have multiple options for outpatient drug rehab programs which you should be able to begin almost immediately.
Establish a sober support network:
There are few things which are as invaluable to long term sobriety as a strong and effective sober support network. These are people who you can turn to intimes of need for guidance or support. Luckily, there are many ways to establish and maintain support in your journey of recovery. Often times the most important support network anyone can have is their family. Family support can be a huge help to those who are starting off in their journey of recovery after leaving drug rehab. However, while family is invaluable it is possible that you may have family members who either don’t fully understand the disease of addiction or are perhaps struggling with it themselves. Even if this isn’t the case, it is typically a good idea to establish some sort of support outside of your family.
This is where support groups can be very useful. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step fellowships are made up of people just like you who are trying to change their lives and live a life free from drugs and alcohol. Attending these meetings is a great way to meet others who are going through similar life-situations and may be able to offer advice or guidance when hard times come along. Recovering from addiction is something that is almost never successful when attempted alone and 12-step meetings are some of the most popular resources for those who are just completing a drug rehab program and trying to learn to live their lives without substances.
If you feel that your support system is not as strong as you would like it to be then being around other sober people is typically the bestway to make it stronger. After all, it can be hard to relate to people who have not felt the way that you may currently be feeling. Thankfully finding like minded people is usually as easy as finding a local 12-step meeting and introducing yourself to a few people. It may be uncomfortable, but getting sober isn’t always easy.
Find healthy activities to fill your free time:
Many people who spend years abusing drugs and alcohol allow these substances to become critical parts of their everyday life. Often times every action and aspect of a person’s life will revolve around drugs or alcohol in one way or another. Being successful in recovery is a lot easier when you have healthy alternative things to fill your time with after completing drug rehab.
When you are at an inpatient facility, usually your time and activities are managed and scheduled pretty strictly. There is always somewhere you are supposed to be or something that you are supposed to be doing. Once you leave rehab however, this isn’t the case. For many people this freedom can be overwhelmingly uncomfortable as they are not used to filling their own time without the actions and behaviors that came along with drug use. This is why it’s important to find healthy alternative activities to participate in. Many people go back to work or school in order to move their lives forward and this is certainly a good option for many people, however it is also important to find some fun and relaxing activities to participate in as well.
If there is one thing that sobriety has a lot of, it’s activities. Many recovery fellowships have monthly and even weekly events which can include things like dinners, softball tournaments or camping. There is really no limit to the various things that these fellowships can do. Participating in activities like this also has the added bonus of making sure that you are surrounding yourself with the sober support network that was show to be so important in tip #2.
Give back to the Community:
Another benefit of sobriety is that you get to feel good about yourself and your contribution to society. Many addicts who are in early recovery struggle with feelings of guilt and shame. Although these are things that therapists at drug rehab programs work hard to improve, they are not always completely eliminated once a person leaves treatment. One of the best ways to move past these feelings is to dedicate some of your time to give back to the community and help others who are in need.
Just like the sober activities from tip #3, the sky is the limit when it comes to community service. Many people like to focus their attention on helping others who are still actively struggling with addiction by volunteering to speak with them or tell their own personal story at inpatient drug rehab programs. Other ways of helping out within the recovery community can be as simple as volunteering to go to a 12-step meeting a few minutes early to make coffee or stay a few minutes after to clean up. What you are doing is less important than the fact that you are making an effort to help others with no expectation or recognition or reward. After all, sobriety is the best reward you could ask for.
Volunteer work doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the recovery community either. Follow your passion. If you like animals, find a local shelter to help out at a couple times a week. If you have a passion for feeding people, then find a local food bank. If you have strong religious beliefs then a church is a great place to donate your time to.
Keep your recovery your #1 priority:
Staying focused on your recovery while you are in drug rehab isn’t difficult for most people. While you’re in treatment you’re working on recovery just about every waking hour because that is exactly why you are there and there is not much else to distract you. The problem is that you can’t stay in drug rehab forever. At some point you need to go back to the real world and start to participate in your new and exciting life.
When you leave drug rehab it is completely normal to be excited about the possibilities of things likejobs, relationships and all of the blessings that go along with sobriety. However it’s extremely important to remember that none of those things are possible without your sobriety, which is why it should always be your number one priority. Recovery is not an event, it is a lifelong process. Going to drug rehab is not a cure, it is the first step of many in a journey which doesn’t have an end.
Continuing to do things like give back to the community and stay connected with other recovering addicts and alcoholics is crucial to long term success. As you continue through your journey and sobriety becomes more intertwined into your daily life this will get easier. When you first leave drug rehab it may seem like recovery is a full time job on its own with all of the meetings and other things that are suggested of you. This is normal, but as you go on it will seem less like a job as it begins to seamlessly merge into your lifestyle.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s journey in recovery is different. What works for one person may not work for someone else. In fact, there are some people that don’t have the luxury of going to an inpatient drug rehab to begin their sobriety. For these people, and everyone else, this guide is simply an outline to show you some of the most common actions that many people have taken to successfully change their lives. That being said, there is no replacement for the guidance that one recovering addict or alcoholic can give to another. The direct advice from a person who has been exactly where you are and has been able to stay sober is simply invaluable. You don’t have to do this alone!