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What to Expect After Leaving Rehab

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The best way to successfully overcome an addiction is to go through rehabilitation. However, as you might expect the process is far from easy when you have been dependent on drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time. What’s worse, life after rehab can be extremely difficult. As you are leaving your support system behind when you exit the rehab facility.

The first few days are critical (when a relapse is most likely), but if you can make it through the first week or two you stand a good chance to make it on the road to recovery. Understanding the challenges that you face once you leave the rehab center can help prepare you for what’s ahead and increase the chances that you’ll remain clean and sober.

Here are some of the common issues that are faced upon leaving rehab:

Temptation!

The reality is that you’ll be confronted with temptations after leaving rehab. What kind of temptations? Your old friends that used with you for one. Hanging around them is a bad idea as it significantly increases your chances of falling off the wagon.

More specifically, you can’t expect to go back to the same environment that you were in before, surrounded by the same people and atmosphere where drugs and alcohol abound and expect to withstand the temptation.

It just doesn’t work that way. No matter how strong you feel, we’re only human, and we’re susceptible to giving in to temptation. But, that doesn’t mean that you should just hang by yourself. Research indicates that those that spend much of their time alone are more likely to relapse.

Why? Because their minds are idle. They get bored and that boredom eventually leads to trouble. So, what if you are avoiding your old friends, and don’t want to be alone? Seek out new support systems!   AA, NA and Celebrate Recovery are just a few of the great groups where you can get continued support for your recovery.

Why not get a pet? Having a dog or cat around the house can help you keep your mind off of things and allow you to focus on other aspects of your life. There are other ways to connect with animals also, volunteering at an animal rescue center can be beneficial as you are being of service to others while staying busy.

This time is the perfect time to start a hobby as it can keep your mind off drugs and temptations. It could also be a rewarding activity, so look at what you really like to do and see if there’s a way you can develop that even more so that it keeps you busy.

Night Sweats and Craving

Be prepared for some long nights. Some people have nightmares and night sweats. The first few weeks after leaving rehab, you may have bouts of insomnia and difficulty managing cravings.

During this time, be absolutely certain that you have a close friend, relative, or sponsor that supports your recovery and that you can reach out to when the going gets tough.

Broken Relationships

While you were using, you probably hurt friends and family with your behavior. There’s no magical fix for this and when you come to a realization as to what you did to your relationships, it can be extremely difficult.

Give it time to heal and make an extra effort to make amends and win back their trust. At the end of the day, these people care about you and a lot of them will be willing to forgive you if they’re convinced that you’re making an effort to leave your old life of addiction behind.

Resistance at Home

You may face some resistance at home when you try to stick to the life changes that you learned while in rehab. You may insist on not having any alcohol at home, but a family member might not like that and insist on keeping some for their own personal use.

In situations such as this, if a compromise can’t be reached, it’s often best to try and find another accommodation that is better suited to the new you.  Sober living homes are a good place to live as they offer continued support for your new drug-free life.

Return to Responsibilities

It’s highly likely that you may have neglected your responsibilities while you were immersed in addiction. Now that you’re sober, you’ll need to resume life and take on these responsibilities.

It’s also a good way to mend broken relationships as friends and family will be less likely to resent you if you start pulling your own weight and return to a life that’s normal and even ordinary.

When family members allow you to take responsibilities again, it will also help your self-confidence and motivate you to stick to the straight and narrow. Keep in mind, it won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, get on with your life and work on making new friends that support the new ‘you’.

While you make the transition back to the real world, it’s also good to stick to outpatient counseling to help you talk through the difficult times on your road to recovery.

Remember, rehab is just the first step in a long journey, a journey that will be so worth it!

  • Karen Walker
    Karen Walker

    CARF Surveyor at CARF international

    Karen Walker serves as the Executive Director at VizOwn. As a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Karen brings over 30 years of extensive experience in the field of behavioral health. She has experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in all levels of care to include day treatment, residential, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and detox services in both for-profit and nonprofit. She has a heart of gold and a giving spirit.

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