Tips for Structuring Your Environment in Early Recovery

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There’s a lot of good information online regarding addiction and addiction treatment. You can easily look up the signs of addiction or read through tips for choosing the best recovery program. But, when it comes to what happens after treatment, the information becomes less clear. In fact, you may have a hard time finding inspiration to stay clean and sober because so much of early recovery is centered around relapse. While relapse is common, it’s not something you want for YOUR recovery. So, how exactly should you be structuring your environment to facilitate a drug-free lifestyle?

Taking the time to structure your environment will keep you positive, motivated and at less risk for relapse. The RS has worked with many addicts, and we feel that the following advice is most helpful in the early days of recovery.

Don’t Overdo It – Simplify Your Schedule

It’s common to feel empowered when you first leave treatment. It’s the first time you’ve been clean and sober in a long time, and it can lead to overconfidence. But, be careful not to overdo it. Too many chores, responsibilities and to-do lists will ultimately make you feel pressured and stressed, and this can leave you frustrated or depressed. Instead, focus on the essential things you have to do, such as attending 12-step meetings.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

At The RS, our doctors and counselors are always stressing the importance of taking care of nutritional needs. Only a strong body can fight addiction, so it’s critical that you eat a healthy diet, get adequate rest, enjoy exercise and take recommended supplements. We know that some addicts return home feeling weak and fatigued, but with the alternative therapies offered at The RS, we hope that you return home much stronger and continue on this path by eating well, sleeping well and exercising.

To help you make the right choices, remove all foods in the home that have little to no nutritional value. Stock the fridge and pantry with healthy options such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and flavored fruit juices and water.

Know How You Plan to Handle Social Invitations

Every situation is unique. Perhaps your friends, family and coworkers knew of your addiction, or perhaps they didn’t. Either way, know how you plan to handle social situations. Everyone is different, so there’s no set time limit for when you can start going out with friends again, but in early recovery, it’s best to play it safe and stick to sober environments with sober people. Expect that you may be asked out, and be prepared to say something along the lines of, “I’m not available right now, but thank you for thinking of me.”

Prioritize Support Groups and Meetings

When you’re in treatment, it’s easy to attend meetings because your days are structured around them, and there are people checking in on you. But, it’s easy to start skipping meetings when you’re out of rehabilitation because you have more freedom. DO NOT fall into this trap! Plan ahead and work meetings into your schedule from the start. Know where the meetings are and which days you plan to go. It may help to bring a sober friend along for support. Also make sure you have transportation. You don’t want any excuses for not going to your meetings.

Remove Clutter

It may seem silly to keep a clean house in early recovery, but research shows that a neat, well-organized environment brings a sense of peace and well being. If your environment is messy, it will make you feel stressed and anxious, and this isn’t good for your recovery. Start by cleaning out one room at a time, preferably the room you’re in most. Make piles of what you plan to keep, throw away and store. Give yourself limits as to what you can keep, too. All of this decision making will be good practice.

Find Comfort in Others

Whether it’s members in your 12-step meetings or your spouse at home, take comfort in those around you. Your addiction probably brought you to a very dark place, and you may have hurt the ones you love. The best you can do is forgive yourself, move forward and be the best person that you can be. Ask for help when you need it. Ask for forgiveness when the time is right. Seek advice or honest answers from people who have walked your path. Share your experiences with those who are walking your path. When you surround yourself with the right people, you will learn to find joy in others, which will ultimately lead to joy in yourself.