Some Tips for Successful Recovery Following Rehab
A large part of what makes rehab such a necessary way to start your new life in a sober world is its structure. Trained professionals have the experience and education to know exactly what an addict needs to get clean and maintain sobriety. Following the initial days and weeks of detox, the structure found in rehab keeps idle hands busy and minds from exploring thoughts that get addicts into trouble. And on those occasions when it is encouraged to go inside your hide and discuss those thoughts, it is done so in a structured and safe environment. Controlled exploration of an addict’s mind helps the addict understand why he or she used in the first place, accept that addiction didn’t "just happen," and then tips are offered so that when cravings occur, the addict knows how to replace thoughts of using with something else that is productive and that doesn’t lead to using.
Although not easy, it is certainly easier to be successful at sobriety in such a controlled and structured environment. From the time addicts wake up until it’s time to crawl into bed at night, between the activities, counseling (both individual and group) and nearly every moment accounted for, it’s no wonder that success is so high in rehab. If you are at all concerned that once you are in the real world, away from the structure and safety of rehab that you may not be able to maintain sobriety, there are several things you can do in order to ensure success.
Life in the Real World for a Recovering Addict
Life isn’t rehab and all the things that got you to use in the first place are waiting to reintroduce themselves to you once you return home. Family stress, the job that fired you, the spouse and/or parents who can’t wait to pounce on you with answers to their questions and questions about your plans for the future are just a few of the things that await you.
Before you address any unfinished business and the needs of others, it’s important to put some structure in place so none of those familiar triggers causes a relapse. Loved ones of addicts rarely understand (no matter how well it’s explained to them) their role in your addiction. For the moment you will have to shut them out and plan how you will stay sober.
If you haven’t already found a therapist and AA/NA meetings, you will want to do both immediately. A therapist can help you delve deeper into the reasons you started using. Often underlying in addiction is emotional trauma that was too difficult to face head on. While you are looking to the past for answers, make sure you take care of your future by attending meetings regularly. Supportive as your family is, they aren’t addicts and you need to be around other addicts who have gone through what you are going through.
Keep Busy but not Too Busy<>/strong
Surely you recognize the expression, "the devil finds work for idle hands to do." An idle mind is the perfect place for thoughts to start creeping in. From feelings of self-doubt ("can I really do this sober thing?") and anger over the past ("if I hadn’t been abused as a child, I might never have started using drugs.") to cravings all addicts experience, the mind of an addict is a very dangerous place. If you haven’t found a job or gone back to school, you will want to do something that occupies your mind. Find a hobby, volunteer or learn a new skill. The more time you spend thinking about something other than using, the better. Spending time with people who need a helping hand allows you to focus on someone other than yourself for a change. It can literally be mentally exhausting to learn something new, leaving little room for random thoughts to roam where they have no business roaming.
But in your quest to stay busy, don’t stay so busy that you leave yourself no time for reflection. As human beings, it’s important to have moments throughout the day when we can reflect on the positive and negative things that occurred. There is no other way for us to grow and achieve success and although we all like to avoid them, we learn from our mistakes. Set aside a few minutes each day to run through your day and see how you can apply any learnings to your overall plan for success.
Your Physical Health
It is important to stay as physically healthy as possible. If you spend the entire day running from one activity to another, build in time to eat properly and for exercise. If you don’t already know about proper nutrition, do some Internet research. Being mindful of the vitamins your body needs, along with what antioxidants and omega-3s are and their importance, can help you avoid everything from colds and flu to cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Exercise is a great tool for keeping your mind from meandering into territory it shouldn’t and of course it helps keep you physically fit.
With so much emphasis on staying clean and maintaining sobriety, don’t forget to have fun. You may have to learn new ways that don’t include the people, places and things that involved using drugs. If you are shy, learn ways to meet new people that don’t include bars. Join a hiking or biking club. Take a pottery class or learn how to mambo. While it’s true that you are a recovering addict, you are more than your addiction. As you forge a new life, you allow yourself to take on new monikers. You may discover hidden talents you never knew existed. Most important, don’t limit yourself and learn to laugh at yourself. Lighten up! Life is full of unpredictable twists and turns and the more you open yourself to them, the more enjoyable it can be.