Making it through addiction treatment is an accomplishment in itself. You’ve maintained sobriety for a period of time, whether it was 30 days, 60 days or 90 days. You’ve also learned critical life skills that will allow you to establish a strong foundation during your recovery. You may have uncovered some of the reasons why you struggled with addiction, as well as effective coping mechanisms for dealing with these obstacles. Treatment is a personalized journey, and each person has a unique experience. Still, the transition from a supported environment to a normal living environment is challenging, and it creates the same types of hardships for all recovering addicts.
The first few weeks after drug rehabilitation are some of the hardest. If you find yourself struggling with each passing day, take comfort in knowing that it will get easier. You will build up the strength and confidence to get through your days without the need for drugs and alcohol. You will learn how to form healthy relationships that are built on trust and honesty. You will better understand what led you toward addiction and how to avoid the temptations that surround you. But until then, how do you handle this transition?
Avoid Feeling Overconfident
It’s easy to feel overconfident, but don’t take chances. You have a lifetime to recover, so don’t put yourself in tempting situations when you don’t have to. There will be enough temptations along the way – driving past an old hangout, for instance – so you don’t want to add to these challenges. Avoid situations where you’ll be hanging around old friends or hangouts, or any spot where drinking or other harmful behaviors are going on. You’re healing, and you need to take things one step at a time.
Have Realistic Expectations
Admitting you have an addiction takes guts. Seeking treatment takes guts. Living a sober lifestyle takes even more guts. But, don’t be discouraged. Have realistic expectations for yourself. Everyone recovers at a different rate, so don’t set unrealistic limits or compare your recovery to others. Know that there will be ups and downs, good days and bad days. Understand that you may have to let certain friends go or not return to old hangouts. It may not be ideal, but all recovering addicts need to make compromises to reach their goals.
Surround Yourself with the Right People
Right now, the important thing is that you surround yourself with the right people, whether they are friends, family or your next door neighbors. This is tough because as people, we flock to those who we feel most comfortable with. Unfortunately, the people you thought were your friends may not be conducive to your healing. Relationships become particularly stressed when dealing with a recovering alcoholic because alcohol is socially acceptable. It’s hard to find outings where no one is drinking, but in the early days of recovery, you need to remain in a sober environment. Focus your efforts on spending time with those who support your recovery and won’t challenge your effort at sobriety.
Go to Your Meetings
Where can you find people you can trust? At your support groups. Be sure to attend the meetings that are outlined in your aftercare plan, whether they be 12-step meetings or individual counseling. Your sponsor and the people in your group can offer firsthand support as to how to acclimate into society and limit temptations. Counseling and therapy will build on what you accomplished in treatment so that you can continue establishing yourself as a contributing member in society.
Keep a Strict Schedule
Boredom is something you don’t want to come across, at least in the early days of recovery. It leads to wandering thoughts and cravings. The best way to avoid boredom in your day is to create a strict schedule. Of course, you need time to unwind, but spend this free time on a hike, playing cards with friends or journaling. Bottom line: each hour of your time should be accounted for. This is something that you learn in rehab, so the progression should feel natural.
Take Care of Yourself
Sometimes, we focus so hard on getting through the first few weeks at home, we forget to take care of ourselves. Being healthy and happy will give you the best foundation for continued sobriety, so don’t forget to pay attention to your physical, emotional and spiritual health. If you are being treated for co-occurring disorders, find a good doctor who can treat the condition. Eat three healthy meals every day to fuel your body. Get outdoors and exercise to clear your mind, rejuvenate the body and boost your immunity.
Connect with your spiritual side through journaling, meditation or going to church. Surround yourself with healthy relationships, even though they will take constant work and dedication. You have a lot to prove to those around you. Get adequate rest each night, consider volunteering your time or taking up a new hobby such as photography or dog sitting. Your aftercare plan will have a lot of detailed information on what you can do to stay sober, but don’t forget to look at the larger picture and ensure that you are doing the basic things of caring for yourself.