Rehabilitation provides a supportive environment of comfort and safety. This makes it easier for individuals battling addiction who want to achieve sobriety. Making sobriety last for the long-term is more difficult once a person leaves the rehab setting, since you leave behind the foundations, tools and surroundings that you needed to cope with and heal from the initial problems.
Upon returning home after completion of the rehab program, the physical barriers that helped you stay sober will no longer be present. With this comes the risk for relapse. Treatment provided you with the tools to help prepare for life after rehab, and the knowledge for building an effective relapse prevention plan.
And although these life skills and lessons are effective and highly fundamental to your success in recovery, the grips of addiction are strong and very real. Beware of unforeseeable triggers lurking in the dark which threaten your hard-earned sobriety.
The list of challenges for sustained sobriety are endless, but here are the leading factors and issues that most patients face and struggle with upon leaving rehab.
Triggers, Cravings and Urges
Practicing the coping mechanisms that you learned in rehab – and developing new skills – to deal with the stress and anxiety that come from cravings and/or temptations, is important to making your sobriety last.
Staying sober is not only just about abstinence from alcohol and drug consumption, but also entails setting up a new way of living your life in a manner that facilitates recovery.
Your experiences in rehab gave you new ways of living without using or abusing. You could engage in activities such as volunteer work or group activities. When you start to crave your drug of choice, or are tempted to use, try to identify this as a harmful tendency and find other ways to thrive.
Rehab centers are very structured environments, and everyone adheres to daily schedules that accommodate regular support group meetings, nutritional meals, exercise, leisure and personal reflection.
When you return home, you might find yourself dealing with post-addiction boredom in the absence of the former defined activities and organized systems. This could jeopardize your sobriety, since it is reasonable to assume that, before rehab, most of your free time was centered around your addiction, and may have been somewhat disorderly or confusing.
It is important to plan some regular activities every day, so that you don’t get bored. Find more constructive ways to utilize your time – try mediation, reading, engaging in sports, etc.
A Lack of Meaning and Purpose
Many people admit that lacking a purpose for their life after rehab poses a threat to their long-term sobriety. This is especially true if one’s addiction was a way to escape reality, considering the challenges in adapting to a life void of alcohol and drug abuse.
In rehab, patients are introduced to new hobbies and interests such as yoga, meditation and art as part of behavioral therapy.
Even if you don’t view these activities as your purpose in life, try engaging in something that interests you. Keeping yourself busy doing something you enjoy may lead you to discover meaning and purpose in the unexpected.
Life After Rehab
What will your autonomy look like after rehab? Your new-found sobriety and freedom may include:
- Meeting your financial obligations (past and present).
- Repairing old relationships and making new ones.
- Going back to live at home, or finding a new place to live.
Some people find that transitioning back into the environment of their post-rehab life overwhelming. You may be challenged by the associated anxiety of taking this new leap in your life as a sober individual.
If this occurs, you could also consider joining support groups and meetings within the recovery community. This might help you set up a new lifestyle that supports your recovery and long-term sobriety.
Relapsing is one of the greatest challenges in post-rehab life. Dealing with the cravings, temptations, boredom, anxiety and lack of purpose all present threats to your new-found sobriety.
Old environments and acquaintances, an insufficient support system, negative family relationships, and lack of resources (financial and other) could also increase the pressure on you to relapse.
Luckily, rehab helps you establish coping life skills, modification from unhealthy or unsupportive tendencies, and the development of close peer support systems to help in your path to long-term sobriety. These will all be essential in helping you with your struggles to avoid relapse.