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Going to rehab for an addiction to drugs and alcohol is often among the most difficult and important decisions a person will make about their life. Some might make the decision more than once due to relapse or the severity of this complex disease of the brain. For this reason, it’s important to know the best things to do after rehab for alcohol and drug addiction for recovery to be successful.
Professional treatment is the most effective way for overcoming a substance use addiction, but unfortunately, only a small number of people will actually go to treatment or have access to the help they deserve.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NDSH) estimates that only 19 percent of people who need treatment actually make it to rehab.
Addiction treatment is essential for many people battling with substance abuse. It allows a person to detox safely, if needed, as well as have access to any necessary medications, counseling and caretakers who understand and can help facilitate the process of recovery.
What scares and trips up many people approaching the end of treatment is how to stay sober after leaving the safety of rehab.
What are the Most Important Things to Do After Completing Addiction Rehab?
For a successful recovery from addiction, it’s important to have a plan of action after treatment. So, here are 11 things to do after rehab:
1. Review and Follow Exit Plan Recommendations
Sometimes called discharge planning, an exit plan provides “prescriptions” for a lasting recovery after leaving treatment.
Exit plan recommendations are carefully developed and assembled based on an individual’s unique challenges and techniques designed to continue to bolster’s a person’s newfound sobriety in the healthiest way possible.
2. Find a Safe and Sober Place to Live After Rehab
For some people, returning to where they lived before rehab is the best option. It’s certainly easier to adjust when going home, but it’s important that any friends or family that also live there understand and support the change to a new, sober lifestyle.
For others, going home is not a choice, either because of a chaotic environment or there is simply nowhere to return to. Finding somewhere to live can be a huge stressor on a person’s sobriety.
So, it’s important to inquire about sober living facilities or organizations that help people leaving treatment find suitable places to live.
3. Find a Therapist After Completing Treatment
Continued therapy after 30 to 90 days of addiction treatment can be incredibly helpful for those just out of rehab, so it’s crucial to find a therapist to keep moving forward in recovery.
This can be with a counselor who participated in treatment, a new therapist referred by the treatment center, or another trusted source.
Arranging this before leaving treatment helps avoid lapses in the ongoing recovery efforts.
4. Keep Follow-up Appointments
The commitment to recovery means not missing scheduled meetings with therapists, physicians and, if necessary, probation officers. Developing a habit of fulfilling these obligations benefits not just recovery, but every aspect of life.
For many, their previous life before recovery was spent avoiding all responsibilities. Sobriety offers a fresh start, so keeping appointments and being on time can instill a profound sense of accomplishment.
5. Attend Outpatient Treatment
Whether the length of stay at a rehab center is 30 or 90 days, outpatient treatment is an excellent way to transition back into regular life while continuing to actively stay engaged in addiction treatment.
Outpatient programs typically allow a person to get the help they need for a specific amount of time every week and can be as short as three days a week for a few hours, or as many as five days a week for longer periods of time each day.
6. Find a Support Group
According to the research article, “Relapse Prevention Therapy: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach,” negative emotional states, interpersonal conflicts, and social pressure account for as many as 75 percent of reported relapses.
Attending and participating in a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, can help a person not just surround themselves with other likeminded peers, but also talk through difficult situations that may lead to an unnecessary relapse to drugs or alcohol.
7. Find Sober Friends After Leaving Treatment
Though it might sound insensitive, not everyone has friends that are supportive, understanding or compassionate about a new life in recovery. Spending time around people who are still actively abusing drugs and alcohol will more than likely trigger a relapse.
Finding and developing relationships with new sober friends may come easier to some people, but don’t get discouraged. Attending support groups is an excellent way to broaden healthy relationships and discover new people who share the common goals of recovery and sobriety.
8. Focus on Self Care and Habits That Promote Good Mental Health
One of the most effective methods for overall health and wellbeing is regularly practicing a healthy lifestyle and self-care.
This means getting regular exercise, establishing a nutritious diet, and getting 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep a night.
Combining this kind of routine with meditative practices like yoga, mindful meditation or a cherished hobby can be extremely fulfilling for those in recovery and add to lasting benefits.
There are hundreds of ways to volunteer and help others. This can range from being the point-person at sober support groups to spending a few hours a week working at a homeless shelter.
There are volunteer organizations around the country that help individuals connect with causes that are meaningful to them that offer the rewards of a sense of purpose.
10. Help Other People and Pay It Forward
Helping others who are struggling with addiction is its own kind of therapy. Donating time and energy to others enables a person to “get out of their own way” and see life from a different, more meaningful perspective.
By using the very personal experience of addiction, and the tools learned in recovery, to give back to those in need, will not only help others find their own path to recovery, but it’s also an awesome way to pay it forward.
11. Be Aware of Relapse Triggers
In recovery, especially as time passes, it can get increasingly easy to become complacent and believe there is no longer a need to remain vigilant. Ultimately, this can lead to relapse.
Staying conscious of emotional, situational and environmental relapse triggers that can cause the desire to drink or do drugs is the best way to not just avoid them, but to catch them before they take control and drive damaging choices and behaviors.
Relapse prevention therapy is a critical part of rehab and it’s often necessary to work with the tools learned during treatment to stay focused and keep the triggers at a safe distance. Don’t ever try to do it alone, and if the triggers become too much to deal with, ask for help at the first sign of trouble.
While there are many things to do after completing rehab for drug and alcohol addiction, the 11 items outlined here are some of the most important for staying on track with a successful recovery and transitioning to a newfound life.