Life After Rehab – Aftercare of Addiction Treatment

Recovering from a substance use disorder is a long-term process that doesn’t end immediately with the completion of treatment. Even when days in rehabilitation are over and you’re not actively using drugs or alcohol anymore, your day-to-day life can still be filled with triggers, stressful occurrences, and cravings. The transitional process of life after rehab will require several changes, steps, and resolutions that must be strictly followed to be successful. This is crucial if you’re working on your recovery or have recently become sober and want to continue that path after rehab. 

If you are already in recovery and you are looking for some advice on how to stay on the right track, you are in luck! We have compiled a list of 10 tips for staying positive in drug addiction recovery.

Life After Rehab – Take Your Time

Often, those who are recently rebuilding their life after addiction believe they’re suddenly ready to jump back right into the world. But they’ll usually realize quickly they’re very far from being 100% ready. You’ll feel reinvigorated and recharged and living life to its fullest, but you should moderate. Life’s pace will likely feel quite differently now, and it might take time to reacclimate. But remember, regarding substance addiction recovery, slow and steady wins the race!

Recognize Your Triggers

Cravings for our favorite things are common and one of the many things that make us human. But if you’re someone in recovery from a substance use disorder, cravings for drugs or alcohol can come on strong, throwing a wrench into your attempt to avoid relapse.

Cravings are caused by “triggers” that provoke memories and feelings linked to substance use. And while some substance abuse triggers are unavoidable, like a scene popping up in a movie of people using drugs or drinking, identifying and putting a plan in place to address them will help you cope with these cravings.

Make a Life After Rehab Plan

Recovery does not end after treatment. It is a lifelong journey that involves many emotions. At first, you may feel excited and energized to be substance-free. However, as time goes on and you are faced with stressful situations, it can be hard to maintain this positive outlook. You may be worried about relapse and how to stay sober during difficult times.

Whether you’re returning home after rehab at an inpatient facility or reaching the end of an outpatient program, it is important to develop a plan to maintain sobriety. This is generally a plan you will create when working with your individual therapist or case manager in rehab. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a plan that includes continuing care after treatment improves their chances of staying off drugs or alcohol. 

Build a Support Network

Building a support network in recovery is essential. Spending time with people who are positive, living life to the fullest without drugs and alcohol, and being supportive of you doing the same provides a number of benefits, including:

  • Accountability for choices in recovery
  • Encouragement to avoid relapse
  • Support in the event that cravings crop up
  • Shared experiences in recovery
  • The opportunity to help others and support them in their healthy endeavors


The more time you spend with people who are living positively, the more positive choices become the norm and the less likely you will be to consider drugs and alcohol as a viable resource for management of stress, boredom, anger, and other issues that arise. 

Lean on close friends and family for support, even if your relationships aren’t what they used to be. Think about going to counseling or family therapy to help with that and to deal with other personal issues. Have some sober friends you can invite as your plus-one to a social event like a party or wedding. And stay in touch with your sponsor and call them if you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable.

Avoid Old Routines and Habits

It stands to reason that if you quit your drug of choice but continue with your same routine, hanging around the same people and places, and not making any changes in your circumstances, it will be much easier to slip back into your old behaviors and habits.

Some of the immediate changes you will need to make will be obvious—like not hanging around the people that you used with or obtained drugs from. After all, you can’t hang around your drug dealer or old drinking buddies and expect to remain sober for very long. You may also need to change your route to work or home in order to avoid any triggers, or people, places, or things that make you want to use drugs or drink again.

By planning ahead, you can avoid those situations in which your habit to use requires mental energy to say no. If you know when you are most vulnerable and plan ahead, you will need to make fewer decisions about whether or not to use.

Set SMART Goals For Yourself

A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The SMART criteria help to incorporate guidance and realistic direction in goal setting, which increases motivation and leads to better results in achieving lasting change. To set your own SMART goal, set aside about 30 minutes to define your intentions. Taking some time to recognize your objectives and use the SMART criteria will help you put more detail and direction into setting your health and lifestyle goals. Putting your SMART goal in writing may help you remember the details.

Get Plenty of Rest

Whatever your sleep schedule was in the substance-abusing era, it probably wasn’t very conducive to providing good mental and physical health. Staying up all night and sleeping all day, along with broken sleep throughout the night, did not help your health or mood. Going multiple days without sleep and then crashing are only a few basic models of sleep schedules that qualify as rest for a substance abuser.  Chances are, you’d be surprised to see the difference sleeping for eight hours every night can make. It can help convert into a far better mood, higher energy levels, sharper mental alertness, better health, and more. But it all starts with getting plenty of rest. 

Deal With Past Mistakes

Most people who make their way into recovery and life after rehab have left a lot of pain and suffering in their wake. Feeling guilty or shameful for past behavior or actions during active addiction is pretty natural and healthy. Shame is described as having negative beliefs about yourself and your self-worth. Guilt is having negative feelings about your past behavior. People in recovery can experience a lot of shame simply for having become addicted in the first place

Life After Rehab – Find Out What Is Expected of you

Another step that you should take in regards to your relationships with family and friends is to speak with them and find out what they expect you to do, how they hope that you will behave in dealing with them, and what they need from you. If, for example, you got started drinking or using drugs as a teenager, and you are now in your late 20’s or early 30’s, life is very different now from how it was when you were last sober and a functioning member of the family, so it’s time to establish the roles and expectation in those relationships. 

This discussion is not only for your sake. They have gotten used to seeing you as an addict, and have grown accustomed to thinking of you within that framework, and will have a tendency to keep acting towards you that way — or might expect too much now that you are sober and “everything is different.” Talking about expectations will help them to take a look at the situation in the present time and form more realistic standards moving forward.

Get Help Today with Little Creek Recovery

Sobriety is a process and setbacks are common during life after rehab. The best way forward for your recovery from alcohol or substance use is to incorporate a wide variety of strategies that will help foster success. Remember to care for yourself, seek supportive relationships, and consider seeking help from a therapist. By employing the strategies above, you will give yourself a better chance for recovery success by reducing your decision fatigue. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak with a specialist. If you or a loved one is rebuilding life after addiction and could use guidance to stay on track, we can help.

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