Leaving rehab is a challenging time for many people. The “real world” is filled with triggers, and you may find yourself tempted to return to old habits and begin using again. That’s why it’s critical to have a plan for life after rehab. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), even a person who has received treatment faces a significant risk of relapse. Fortunately, individuals can take specific steps to improve their chances of long-term sobriety. Our suggestions provide advice to help individuals continue their treatment plan post-rehab. Like any other chronic condition, SUD requires lifetime treatment.
Make Sure That You’re Ready to Leave
Some people may complete treatment quickly, while others take more extended periods to feel ready to leave the rehabilitation facility. Therefore, it is beneficial to talk to your counselors about your length of stay before considering leaving rehab. In some cases, they may recommend that you extend your treatment if they feel that more work needs to be done on your recovery process. Alternatively, if the program fails to meet your needs, start researching other programs to make an informed choice about where to go next.
Talk about What Happens Next
Talk to your therapist about the aftercare program that will work best for you. Consider the pros and cons of each option to decide which will meet your needs without disrupting your everyday life. The aftercare treatment plan will outline the steps you need for continued sobriety.
Study Your Aftercare Program
Some facilities offer aftercare programs onsite. Programs like these are convenient since clients are already familiar with the facility, therapists, and program logistics. Aftercare programs may include follow-up sessions with your counselor or therapist and family therapy sessions. In addition, there may be group therapy sessions or support groups part of your aftercare program.
To maximize the benefits of this part of your recovery, familiarize yourself with what is available, so you know what to expect once you’ve finished your initial treatment program.
Choose an Environment That Fosters Recovery
After completing a drug rehab program, many people prefer to live in a sober living facility or halfway house for a time. These sober environments aim to help individuals transition successfully into the community while maintaining abstinence from drugs and alcohol. In addition, these facilities promote accountability and continued progress for those in early recovery. They also provide structure and community for people who are new to sobriety.
Build a Support Network
A supportive network will help immensely with feelings of hopelessness or depression. This network can include family, friends, and others in recovery or members of a 12-step program. In addition, a support network gives you immediate access to a listening ear and healthy guidance.
Keep Attending Support Group Meetings
Your support group meetings are more than just an hour or two out of your week — they are your lifeline and will help you stay sober when times get tough. These meetings provide a safe space where you can discuss your struggles with addiction in an environment that supports growth and healing. You will have the chance to meet others who share similar experiences and learn from others who successfully live in recovery.
Set Boundaries with Others
People who use drugs or drink heavily will often pressure those around them to join them in their activities. Be prepared for this reality and know that their reactions reflect their issues—not yours. Thus, set your limits with such people and use no often.
Face your Residual Responsibilities Head-on
When you leave rehab, it may seem like your problems will disappear along with your addiction. However, the practicalities of life often remain, such as relationship issues, financial burdens, or employment concerns. Consider devising an action with your counselor before departing rehab.
Your action plan may include:
- Seeking a financial counselor at your local community center to help with your debt.
- Asking governmental agencies for assistance with rent, food, job assistance, or medical care.
- Arrange a meeting with your boss or human resource manager before returning to work. This will help ease the transition back into regular life.
Put Together a Realistic Schedule
Creating a plan for yourself will help you stay on track with the things that matter most in your life. This includes getting up on time, going to work or school each day, and spending time with family and friends. It is also helpful if you remember to take time each day to focus on yourself and do things that give you joy—such as hobbies or social outings.
Having too much unaccountable or free time can lead to restlessness and, thus, trouble down the road. Put together a schedule that fills up at least some of your free time. Consider doing activities like volunteering, sports, going back to school, or getting a job.
Plan Ahead for Difficult Times
It’s not easy to predict when problems will arise. If you suspect that a specific time or situation might put you in a vulnerable position, be prepared with strategies to help you cope. For example, if you know that visiting a particular family member always leads to arguments, avoid those situations or limit the amount of contact you have with that person.
Responding to Triggers and Cravings
Once you leave a rehabilitation facility, know that your triggers and cravings can rear their ugly heads at any time. Thus, have a plan for when the temptation to relapse hits you. Before leaving rehab, list people you can call if you start feeling overwhelmed or want to turn to substances again. Include family members, friends, support group members, and former counselors willing to help.
Learn Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
A good treatment center teaches coping skills for managing stress without using drugs or alcohol. Coping skills can include:
- Breathing exercises
- Support network
- Yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices
- Hobbies—like painting, hiking, or reading
You’re probably feeling many emotions if you’re getting ready to graduate and leave treatment for SUD. You may be excited about returning to your family and friends but worry about how you will handle life outside of treatment. Or maybe you are concerned about leaving the safety of a structured environment for the unpredictable ‘real’ world of recovery. Regardless of how you feel about leaving rehab, one thing is sure: The transition from treatment to everyday life can be stressful, which is why it’s essential to prepare for what lies ahead. At Restoration Recovery Center, we help clients design an aftercare treatment plan that supports their early recovery. In addition, our clients have access to our outpatient program. Each individualized aftercare plan helps individuals with SUD and their loved ones build on their achievements and increase their chances of sustaining long-term sobriety. To learn more, contact us at (888) 290-0925.