Congratulations, you have set out on the road to addiction recovery and completed treatment! … But what happens in life after rehab?

old life new life

Life after rehabilitation means a life without drugs, alcohol or other addictions. Life without dependence on a substance can be a beautiful thing, but often to someone struggling with addiction, life after rehab just seems scary. Many addicts use alcohol or drugs as a coping method, and see a sober life as stressful and unattainable. Often they believe that they are in control of their lives and their addiction, and that when they were using it was the result of actively choosing to use substances and keep them in their life.

Going through rehab, especially in an inpatient clinic, can give people an outside view of their lives. By taking away all the usual routines, stimulants, emotions, places and people, they are able to focus solely on themselves and address why they are abusing substances or processes. After getting over the initial hump, those in recovery may start to feel like they have mastered their addiction and are ready to leave – many people are actually eager to leave and resume their lives, addiction-free, to prove a point.

While many people leave inpatient and outpatient rehab feeling confident, others undoubtedly feel anxious, and rightly so. Neither feeling is right or wrong when it comes to life after rehab.  Rather, it is important to think ahead and plan for post-recovery and for the realities of life without addiction.

Relapse Prevention

Planning for potential relapses is essential after primary treatment. Believing that the addiction is gone and you will never be tempted again is a misleading thought that will trip you up quickly. Instead, you should prepare for those moments where you feel tempted – know how to say no and what to do in that situation.

Many rehabs are aware of this essential need and so equip clients with relapse prevention skills during treatment in order to prepare you for difficult situations in the future which might lead to relapse.  A relapse prevention plan includes education on how to build a long-term recovery plan, how to identify warning signs and personal triggers, how to manage your sober time and mindfulness practice that can be integrated into your daily routine.

Time Management

While free time before rehab might have been a blur of drugs, alcohol or gambling, with life and work interspersed between getting high, free time after rehab is available for you to do with it what you choose. Often, people in recovery find it difficult to handle all this new time they gain along with their sobriety, and boredom can lead them back to using substances.

Managing your free time can mean the difference between you living a fulfilling and enjoyable life or one of craving substances and potentially relapsing. It is a good idea to take up a new hobby that you have wanted to do, like train for a marathon, play tennis, or learn a new language because it will fill up time and give you a focus. Developing new habits and managing your time can help reduce the number of occasions on which you might be tempted to indulge old habits.

Exercise can help with cravings and is a great way to fill your time and get in shape. Moderate- to high-intensity exercise floods the body with natural endorphins, which makes you feel good.

Starting a meditation routine is a great idea as it can help create mindfulness and reduce stress.

Plan to do something each evening and create a routine of better habits and activities that will make you feel good. For example, go to the gym two days a week, and spend Fridays watching a movie or reading in a cafe instead of going out to bars. Plan to go on day trips or spend time with family on weekends. Your routine doesn’t have to be set in stone and can be adjusted for other things, but just having an activity stops you sitting at home and dealing with cravings or bad habits.

Finding New Friends

Sadly, rehab might cause you to lose some friends. If your friendship circle was defined by your addiction, as is likely, some of your old friends might not be supportive of your sobriety. You might find that your friendship revolved around substance use and you now have nothing to talk about.

However, some friends might be truly supportive and want to spend time with you doing things other than drugs or alcohol. While the prospect of losing friends might seem sad, ultimately the recovery process will show you who your real friends are.

Recovery always opens doors to new friendships with people you meet in rehab and support groups or people you meet through your new hobbies and activities. It is recommended to find a sponsor to talk to and support you after rehab and often sponsors end up becoming close friends and confidants. Focusing on all the people you are yet to meet will diminish the worries you may have about losing friends.

Life after rehab might also make your relationships with your spouse, children or family better as they can see you are actively trying to overcome an addiction and better yourself. Focus on those who are helping you along your journey.

Changing your Life

Life after rehab means changing your life, but this need not be a bad thing. Attending an addiction recovery programme gives people in treatment the time they need to dream up a better life – through careful planning, you can create a much better and healthier life than the one you living before.

One example is Singaporean Johnny Chin, who went from being an addict who used every type of drug he could get his hands on, to becoming a counsellor who helps recovering addicts on the road to success. He even met his wife while working on his degree, and now has a young daughter. Mr Chin’s life has completely changed for the better, and there are countless other inspirational stories out there to inspire you.

It is important to go into recovery with a positive attitude and dream of the possibilities for your life after rehab. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programmes will equip you with the skills and coping strategies to overcome addiction and live a successful sober life. While it might seem scary to enter into life after rehab, try to focus positively on your fresh start and chance to redesign your life.

If you or a loved one is stalling on getting the necesssary treatment to overcome an addiction because of feelings of apprehension about life after rehab, speaking to one of our experienced counsellors can help you come to a decision.