Top Ten Things to do After Rehab – Tips for staying sober
TOP TEN THINGS TO DO AFTER REHAB
(IF YOU WANT TO STAY SOBER)
Here are my top 10 suggestions for anyone just out of rehab or new in recovery.
by Sep 5, 2016 | RECOVERY GIRL – THE BLOG |
The first year of recovery is a time of exponential growth and great change. The first 90 days are the most critical. Everyone’s experience is different. The pace of your recovery will be very much dependent on how you work it, your emotional and psychological state of mind, your physical condition, the strength of your support networks, living conditions, whether or not you’re employed, and other factors. It’s wise to keep the focus on yourself rather than comparing where you are to where someone else is in their recovery. That said, anyone in early recovery can take some steps to increase the chances that they will remain abstinent and continue to move toward the life they deserve.
1. Build Community
Connection is a key component to lasting recovery. What’s important here is that you find for yourself a group of people who are on a similar path so that you can walk together. Stay in touch with others you went to rehab with and continue the camaraderie with those who also want to stay sober. Find a support group, weather it’s 12-step or another kind of recovery program; there may be aftercare at your treatment centre or a nearby intensive outpatient treatment centre they can recommend; heck Soul Cycle might work for you, whatever. The point is you don’t have to do this alone. See my RESOURCES page for links.
2. Create A Daily Schedule
Having a routine will help you avoid anxiety and stay on track with your discharge plan. This plan should include diet, sleep, community support meetings, therapist, medical doctor, exercise, social time, family time, and whatever else floats your boat. Schedule these things so that you do not become overwhelmed. It’s okay to take it slow. You want to stay busy, but not too busy. You may also want to start and end your day with some sort of meditation, prayer, or reading that helps you stay focused and make your new outlook a priority.
3. Create A Safe Home Environment
If you live alone, ask someone you can trust to come by and help you empty out old bottles and throw away any stash you’ve hidden at home. If you live with loved ones, have a conversation about drugs and alcohol in your living space. It’s best to have a substance-free environment at home at first to avoid temptation. You need a safe place to land.
4. Learn Your Triggers
If driving by your old drug dealer’s house makes you want to score, this might be a trigger for you. If talking with your mother about your divorce makes you want to drink, this might be a trigger for you. Take the time to note what pushes your buttons and avoid those as much as possible things for now. If having emotions in general causes you to feel out of control, implement the coping techniques you gained in treatment and/or learn some new ones. Be aware of your physical and emotional state; are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? If at any time you answer yes to one or more of those, do what you can to alleviate it as quickly as possible. HALT is an acronym that makes this easier to remember. A relapse prevention course might also be helpful. We all get triggered. HOW YOU RESPOND is the difference between maintaining abstinence and a relapse.
5. Avoid Friends Who Are Not Supportive
There’s nothing worse than that old friend who doesn’t understand why you can’t have “just one,” or why you don’t want to be in the same room with them while they’re cutting lines. If they don’t get it, that’s ok, it’s not your job to convince them of anything. And, maybe don’t hang out with those folks just yet. You can let them know you’re taking some time for yourself and you’ll get in touch when you’re ready. Delete the phone numbers and emails of people who you bought drugs from. You won’t be needing them, right?
6. Avoid Big Changes
Transition is a stressor for anyone. In early recovery you’ve got enough on your plate without moving to another country, quitting your job, or getting divorced. I’m not about to give anyone advice. This is only an observation. If you get some time under your belt and you still want to move to Uganda, quit being a lawyer and divorce your wife, go for it. But in that first year you don’t even have all your marbles back yet. Literally. In fact it takes five years to return to 100% brain functioning, longer if you did Meth. Your focus now is staying abstinent. That takes all you’ve got.
7. Enlist the Support of Your Family
Your family can be a great resource. If you live with family, involve them in your recovery plan. In any case, talk to them about how you are doing and share the journey with them. Ask them to give you some time to recover so that they understand you’ll need them to be patient. It is vital that both the person in recovery and their family maintain realistic expectations. Recovery is a process, not an event.
8. Don’t Rush Back to Work
If you can give yourself a week or two after rehab to reacclimatize to the outside world it will be time well-spent. You will fare better if you are able to develop new self-care routines and stabilize, to create the support network that will sustain you, and just generally land.
9. Learn to Have Fun Sober
Many times in early sobriety we don’t know what sounds fun to us because our former idea of ‘entertainment’ involved getting trashed both publicly and privately. It’s time to try new things. Maybe you like kayaking, but if you’ve never tried it because you were holed up somewhere shooting dope, how do you know? There are lots of activities that do not include imbibing any substances (or even gambling or hookers or shopping). It’s shocking, I know. In fact, there are sober bars from Chicago to the UK and even an organization, BIGVISION, which provides fun events and productive opportunities in a sober environment. Or create your own activities with like-minded friends. I have one friend who created a movie club to meet once a week for dinner and a movie with a bunch of sober friends. Genius!
10. Have A Plan When You Go Out
For the first few months it’s best to avoid bars and clubs. As they say in the 12-step rooms, “If you go into a barbershop often enough, eventually you’ll get a haircut.” And, if you must go to an event such as a wedding, funeral, bbq, business function, etc., you may want to take a sober buddy with you to help you stay strong. Know what you will say if you are offered a drink. Usually a simple “no thanks” will do. No explanation required. Rehearse this with a friend. Even if your “drug of choice” was something else entirely, and not alcohol, it’s smart to be prepared on this front. And if you feel tempted. Get out of there!