Getting through drug rehab is an accomplishment to be proud of. For most people, recovering from addiction is a lifelong process of growing, learning, and healing. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” In other words, growth and learning should be a lifelong process for everyone. Your addiction just made you more aware of the areas you need to focus on. And in order to stay on the right track, there are a few specific things you should do, beginning immediately after rehab.
Evaluate your environment
A drug and alcohol-free environment is crucial to continued success for addicts. The obvious measures you need to take to begin with are to rid your home of any drugs or other addictive substances. But don’t stop there. Also remove any triggers that might lead to temptation, such as posters, paraphernalia, or even music or movies that make you desire your forbidden substance. If you feel unable to make it on your own, you might consider starting your transition by living in a halfway house or a sober living house (SLH).
Evaluate your social connections
Even more important than the physical elements of your environment after rehab are the friends you associate with and the places you frequent. Sometimes, an entire neighborhood can be detrimental to your continued recovery if you are surrounded by friends you party with or bars you like to visit. It’s not a step to be taken lightly, but sometimes a fresh start in a new neighborhood or community is a necessary way to remove yourself from temptation. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to talk to your counselor before making a final decision. And if it turns out to be the right course of action for you, ask around about cheap movers in your area and make the move as quickly as possible.
Watch for relapse triggers
Stay alert and watch for common factors that could signal relapse. There are several areas to be mindful of. Emotional relapse, for one, can be impending if you notice yourself bottling up your emotions, changing your sleeping patterns, isolating yourself, or avoiding meetings. Other thought patterns, like bargaining or denial can also be triggers for relapse. If you find yourself starting to rationalize with yourself that you can use drugs only at specific times, or if you start to convince yourself you never had a problem and that using once or twice won’t hurt you, you are in dangerous territory Just be aware of these triggers and be open about your thoughts with your counselor or your support group.
Follow up with a counselor
Because recovery is a process, your work isn’t done when you leave rehab. You will need to follow up with your counselor and follow the steps they give you. Both individual and family therapy have been found to be extremely helpful for addicts. In fact, family counseling has become a “strong and continuing theme of many treatment approaches,” including substance abuse. It’s meant as a system to treat an addict’s entire ecosystem by addressing underlying issues that may have led to abuse in the first place. Group therapy is another form of substance abuse counseling that has been found to be extremely helpful in the recovery process. It gives you both a good social support system as well as a way to get help with your struggles on a regular basis.
Remember that most people can’t recover alone. It takes a reliable support system, sober environment, and regular reflection in order to stay on the right track.