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How Can I Stay Sober After Rehab?

Make new sober friends

Published: August 15, 2023

Answer: Understand and accept that relapsing is part of maintaining sobriety — especially right after leaving rehab.

It’s easy to get caught up in what you did and let that completely derail all your work. But relapse is going to happen. You’re going to have to pull yourself out of it, maybe multiple times.

That’s why your support system is so important. The right one will help you acknowledge the slip and encourage you to get back on track. The wrong one may contribute to an extended relapse.

Your sobriety must be protected like it’s the most precious thing you’ve ever owned. When you compromise on that, you’ll end up in situations and mindsets that can lead you back into addiction.

Here is a comprehensive look at how to remain sober after leaving alcohol or drug rehab.

Why Is It Hard To Stay Sober After Leaving Addiction Treatment?

Answer: Rejoining society post-rehab can feel completely different from the world you experienced before rehab.

Rehab is a form of retreat from the world. Most people you’re around during rehab are either committed to helping you become sober or working toward the same goal for themselves.

But after rehab, your perspective has changed. Therefore, how you see the world and interact with it has changed.

The people you meet will have no idea what you’ve been through, and many may not care. The results of interacting with the general population can quickly make you feel like returning to your drug addiction or alcohol use.

Remind yourself that whatever triggers you is just that — a trigger, not a command.

You’re not required to follow it or give into it. You have other ways of dealing with the things that get under your skin now.

Above all, work toward sobriety at every turn, and find coping methods that work for you.

Top Ways To Manage Substance Abuse Triggers And Stay Sober

It’s hard to avoid being triggered in some way once you’re out of rehab. With these tips and the coping skills gained in rehab, hopefully, you’ll find it a little easier.

1. Build a Strong Support System

Establishing your village will look different for everyone. Yours may be composed of people who have been in your life a long time, those you’ve just met but have bonded with, or a combination of the two groups.

You’ll need sober friends you can call, therapists you like and trust, and places where you find peace.

Create a system that allows you to thrive in sobriety rather than pulls you back into substance abuse.

2. Avoid Places and Situations That Trigger Use

Your best friend in addiction can’t be your best friend in recovery. Your favorite hangout can’t be the same. And parties may be a bad idea.

Find new friends. Frequent hangouts during non-drinking hours or those whose menus exclude alcohol. Value small groups with similar goals over large groups with different mindsets.

3. Stick to Your Follow-Up Care Plan

Part of rehab work includes creating a plan for what you’ll do after rehab. If you’re on medication, that will need to be monitored.

You may stick with the same therapist for individual counseling and maybe even the same support group. But you may also transition to new ones.

Remember and utilize the coping mechanisms you gained in rehab because you won’t always have your village with you.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness practices can be integrated into everyday activities, like walking into work, folding laundry and washing dishes, getting ready for the day, and drinking your morning coffee.

You may learn some type of mindfulness during rehab, and the trick is to learn to translate those skills into your new chapter.

Practicing mindfulness can lead to less stress and greater satisfaction to maintain a sober life.

Some forms of mindfulness are:

  • Meditation: Being quiet and noticing what’s around you and how you’re feeling without judging or acting on it. You can do this while still or moving.
  • Gratitude: Considering the loved ones in your life, what you have, and what you can do with a positive and loving perspective.
  • Affirmations: Reminding yourself that you are a beautiful, capable, and worthy human being by naming and repeating your strengths.
  • Body scan: Being still and taking stock of how each part of your body feels in the moment, taking note of areas of tension, pain, relaxation, and peace.
  • Breath focus: Noticing your breath or intentionally breathing in patterns.

5. Find Healthier Habits and Hobbies

Replacing your habits with healthier choices that foster sobriety isn’t easy, but it’s possible and effective.

Find things that you’re good at and enjoy doing. Otherwise, it’s much harder to stick with it.

Maybe you need movement. Maybe you need stillness. Maybe you need to create. Maybe you need to analyze. Whatever fills the need in a healthy way, put more of it in your life.

Examples of some healthy habits include:

  • Exercising or group sports: Try incorporating a focus into your hobby, like burlesque dancing, running clubs, bowling, or even roller derby.
  • Reading: Beyond book clubs, reading in groups fosters a sense of inclusion and comradery and reading is everywhere, such as on social media sites, public events, and in work groups.
  • Journaling: You can free journal, where you write down all your thoughts as they come to you, traditionally journal, or bullet journal. This habit helps you cope, manage triggers, and provides an outlet.
  • Learning a new skill: Cooking, crocheting, playing an instrument, growing an herb or flower garden – there are many options to keep your hands busy, give you something to look forward to, and to focus your time and energy.

Everyday Sober Activities That Can Benefit Your Recovery

Being active in some way can make it easier to avoid the feeling that you want to return to alcohol or drug use.

Giving into withdrawal symptoms like cravings happens, but keeping your mind and hands busy returns your focus to the life you’re living now.

Try some of these options to up your sober living game:

  • Volunteer
  • Find a club (book, craft, car)
  • Attend free events
  • Start a blog or vlog about your journey
  • Take other classes (like baking, software, art)

Look for other ways to be involved in your community. Local publications and social media provide lots of ways to keep yourself busy and give back.

Relapse Prevention Plan Care Options

Sometimes, you relapse. Have a plan established for when you do. Part of being sober is learning that life is full of setbacks and regrouping.

It’s not about the challenges — it’s about how you face them.

Online and In-Person Support Groups

Attending regular meetings, even when you’re out of rehab, is vital to the success of addiction recovery. Find 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous or others like SMART Recovery to include in your support network.

When you can’t make a meeting in person, you can find peer support through online groups or apps.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

If you’ve completed rehab for substance use disorder at an inpatient treatment facility but feel you need more work, consider an outpatient program.

Mental Health Therapy

Over the years, our idea of therapy has expanded. The more traditional forms may be what comes to mind when someone mentions therapy, but many alternative forms are gaining popularity. It’s vital that you find a therapy or therapies that work for you.

Traditional forms of therapy include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Contingency management
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

Alternative forms of therapy include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Neurofeedback
  • Animal therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Reiki
  • Tapping
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy

Can Sober People Go To Alcohol Or Drug Friendly Events?

Answer: It depends. When you’re new to recovery, avoiding anything involving substance use is best.

As you move through the steps and grow confident in your sober lifestyle, it may get easier to be around people drinking or doing drugs without feeling like you have to join in.

However, understand that you may never get to where you can be around substance abuse. If that’s you, there’s plenty out there for you that doesn’t involve partying with drugs or alcohol.

Prioritize your sobriety and recovery over everything else.

Tips For Staying Sober At Social Events

Social events are often places where you used to use drugs or alcohol. Post-rehab, they’re different. You can’t go with the plan to get drunk or high and repeat past mistakes.

Figuring out what to do when faced with warning signs contributes to your well-being.

Here are some ways to maintain your sober life while attending social events:

  • Have a buddy on speed dial who will answer the phone when you call and let them know what’s going on ahead of time. Step away and call them if you hit a bump and start craving.
  • Decide how long you’re staying and stick with that time. Set an alarm for 15 minutes before so you can say goodbyes and thank the host. Make quick rounds, then leave.
  • If it turns out that the event is too much for you, don’t stress about leaving earlier than planned. It’s better to exit the party than to stay and relapse.
  • Have a plan for what to say about your sobriety. Your changed habits will most likely come up. Even if you don’t know anyone at the event, someone will inevitably offer you libations and then push back when you say no.
  • Stay away from anyone who doesn’t seem to understand your boundaries. It could be an old friend or a new acquaintance. Either way, avoiding them helps you stay sober and focus on self-care.

What Are The Long-Term Benefits Of Staying Sober?

Long-term sobriety is like mixed media art — you’re creating something beautiful from all the bits and pieces you’ve collected over your lifetime.

You’re taking the old habits of drug and alcohol addiction and transforming them into a sober life that looks entirely different.

Benefits of long-term sobriety include:

  • Better health
  • Improved relationships with family members and loved ones
  • Clearer mind
  • More opportunities to advance in work and school

Find Help And Resources For Staying Sober

Maintaining sobriety for drug or alcohol abuse once you’ve left the treatment center can be daunting. Your priorities have shifted to taking care of your behavioral health and overall well-being, which is hard.

If you need help with the transition, is here. We can direct you to resources that will keep you on the path to wellness in your recovery when you contact us today.

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