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Life After Addiction (Part 1): Moving Forward & Seeking Growth

So, you’ve successfully made it through rehab and you’re ready to start your new life. Although your therapists have prepared you for life outside the doors of rehab, you’re scared of the days ahead. It’s normal to have these feelings of uncertainty and hesitation—but don’t let your fears conquer everything you’ve accomplished. With an active support system and a variety of coping mechanisms, you can be on the road to successful long-term sobriety.

Achieving a New Life

Recovery following addiction treatment isn’t accomplished by simply quitting use of drugs or alcohol—it is accomplished by building a new life away from these substances. It is important to fill your days with alternative routines that get you out of the mindset of “recovery.” Why is it important to stop viewing your life as one in recovery? Because if you continue to focus on your past, it will be more difficult to adopt the new sober life you desire. It is critical to start viewing your life outside of rehab as fresh canvas and disconnect from past shortcomings.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the thought of dealing with restructuring your days alone—it’s okay. There are simple checkpoints you can follow to ensure your success for days and years to come.

Here are a few simple steps to follow to help you continue moving forward:

Find new hobbies. It is crucial to find new pastimes to engage in to replace occasions when you would use. A hobby is defined as an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation. Discovering new passions will help you uncover a deeper meaning for your life that holds real purpose. Boredom can be extremely dangerous and often cause relapse. Many people find new activities as a way to cope with stress and anxieties that would once trigger substance abuse.

Having trouble finding a new a new hobby? Discover A Hobby features a database of different activities and includes information on where to find lessons, online instructional videos & pictures, and the best beginners equipment, books, and videos. Explore the site and find something new that will spur your enthusiasm.

Avoid high-risk situations. Addiction is devious. That is why it is important to make a personal list of high-risk situations where you would feel inclined to use. At all costs, avoid putting yourself in these environments. To ensure your list includes the best information—you should go over it with someone in your support system because they can often spot something you may have missed.

Identifying personal high-risk scenarios can be difficult. However, particular times, places, people, or events often initiate symptoms. Triggers can be highly individual, so it is impossible to compile a one-size-fits-all list. Instead, you should monitor your behaviors closely and learn how to identify situations where symptoms occurred and then identify what happened immediately before the onset of the symptoms. Carry your list with you at all times because it could save your life and prevent relapse.

Some common checkpoints include:

  • Avoid surrounding yourself with old friends who are users
  • Avoid bars, clubs, and other tempting areas
  • Be upfront about your drug history with medical professionals
  • Use prescription drugs with caution

Be honest with yourself & others. Addictions often necessitate lying. Did you get in the habit of lying to yourself and loved ones about your substance abuse problem? If so, lying has probably become second nature to you. In order to develop a new life, you must learn to be completely honest—with yourself and others. It is critical to identify your support system (i.e. doctors, family, friends, group therapies, etc.) and be open and truthful with them.

When you’re honest, your addiction has nowhere to hide. Developing this trust will feel unnatural at first, but it will start to get easier overtime. This doesn’t mean that you have to be vulnerable with everyone that you meet; however, it is essential to be honest with those close to you about your recovery.

Addiction protects and augments itself by means of a bodyguard of lies, distortions and evasions that taken together amount to a full scale assault upon consensual reality. Because addiction involves irrational and unhealthy thinking and behavior, its presence results in cognitive dissonance both within the addict himself and in the inter-subjective realm of ongoing personal relationships.

“Addiction, Lies and Relationships,” Floyd P. Garret M.D.

Learn to manage stress without substances. Although triggers differ from person to person, stress is a factor that affects everyone. Substance abuse usually begins as a way to escape reality and alleviate tension. In order to successfully recover, it is important to find ways to relax that aren’t associated with drugs or alcohol. Why do people not relax? Most will say time is the issue. To overcome this false idea, add up the time you spent using substances: the time spent taking the drug, dealing with the consequences, and the time spent recovering—then you’ll realize how critical it is to relax for a short period each day. You will make the time.

Looking for some natural ways to beat stress? Body + Soul provides some helpful options:

  • Find circuit breakers—get your mind off the problem
  • Exercise
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Eat small meals often
  • Breathe or meditate
  • Talk to yourself
  • Tell someone who cares
  • Aromatherapy
  • Cocooning

Seek additional supports when needed. Although you feel ready to move forward from rehab and acquire a life of your own outside the reigns of addiction—it is okay if you need extra help. Following addiction treatment, a life in recovery can seem daunting. You may start to feel overwhelmed by the process of moving forward, it is better to reach out than relapse. Tell those around you of your struggle and get the help you need. The journey to long-term sobriety can be a long and difficult one, but it’s worth the effort.

Lean on those close to you and build a sober community around you. This will help with your success. Continue going to group meetings and sharing your honest thoughts and struggles. Sobriety is possible—keep moving forward and don’t look back.

If your issue is something that cannot be managed on your own, it is important to seek out the help of a professional.