When you leave drug rehab, the real work begins. Not only do you have to adjust to a new sober lifestyle, but it’s also common to experience an intense period of readjustment once you return home from treatment. After putting your entire life on hold for weeks or even months, it’s tempting to want to lock yourself away again until you feel 100% confident you won’t relapse. But that kind of thinking is also a setup for failure.
The truth is, there will be good days and bad days after leaving rehab. You might have a moment where you think about drinking again or using drugs, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately fall off the wagon the next time you have a glass of wine or some weed. If you want to avoid a relapse after leaving rehab, here are some helpful tips on how to remain drug-free and lead a happy, healthy life.
Be Honest With Yourself About Your Triggers
One of the biggest drawbacks of leaving drug and alcohol rehab is the loss of daily peer support. You can attend AA or NA meetings and connect with people who understand what you’re going through, but you don’t do that every day. You’ll likely go months without having a single conversation about your addiction and how to avoid relapsing. That’s why it’s so important, to be honest with yourself about which situations or people trigger you to reach for drugs or alcohol.
What is it about certain places or people that make you want to use it again? What thoughts and feelings make you want to drink when you’ve been sober for a long time? If you don’t know what triggers you, you’ll be flailing in the dark whenever something comes up that could cause you to relapse. By acknowledging your triggers, you can prepare yourself to deal with them when they come up.
Start an Exercise Routine
One of the best ways to combat negative feelings is to get active. Exercise has been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety, so it’s a great way to get your mind off things when life gets tough.
You will also benefit from increased levels of serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which affect your mood and make you feel less depressed or anxious. Plus, starting an exercise routine can be as simple as walking your dog daily or going for a jog after work.
Get Out Into the World and Meet New People
It can be tempting to hole up in your house and avoid people after a long stint in rehab. But avoiding new people and unfamiliar situations is one of the best ways to keep yourself from feeling comfortable. Withdrawing from the world doesn’t just prevent you from having to answer questions about your past drug use; it keeps you from having to make decisions and get comfortable with your new sober self.
You’re better at making decisions and being yourself when you’re out and about than when you’re indoors. And while you may want to avoid situations where you’ll be asked about your past drug use, you should be open to meeting new people. New friends can be your new support network and help you stay accountable to your goals.
The most important thing is to remember that relapse isn’t a failure — it’s an adjustment process that many people go through when they transition from inpatient care back into everyday life as independent adults.
Knowing this ahead of time will help you better cope with the challenges that come with leaving drug and alcohol rehab and improve your chances of staying sober long-term.
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