Rebuilding Your Life After Recovery and Treatment Programs
One of the most important things to understand about recovering from addiction to drink or drugs is that recovery is not an event, but rather a process.
Detox and the early stages of a treatment program might be one of the most challenging things you’ve ever undergone, but you’re just taking the first steps on an ongoing journey. It could be argued that the real work only begins once you finish a course of treatment and leave rehab.
If that sounds demoralizing, it isn’t meant to come across that way. On the contrary, by understanding that the path to sustained sobriety stretches far ahead, you can pack plenty of patience and saddle up for the long-haul.
Now for the good news. Meaningful, long-term recovery is yours for the taking. It won’t be easy and it may even involve relapse, but you can leave drink or drugs alone for good.
Rebuilding Your Life After Recovery in 10 Steps
- Before anything, forgive yourself
- Get a healthy routine in place
- Stretch your brain every day
- Make sure you get enough sleep
- Work on rebuilding your relationships
- Choose your friends wisely
- Don’t interact with toxic people
- Take full advantage of peer-support groups
- Eat healthily and exercise daily
- Pursue ongoing addiction treatment
1) Before anything, forgive yourself
Now, you should consider yourself before forging ahead with lifestyle changes and mending unraveled relationships.
If your struggle with addiction to drink or drugs has left you battling through feelings of guilt and shame, it’s easy to allow your self-esteem to take a battering, easy to get lost in a negative spiral. While this is commonplace among recovering addicts, it doesn’t need to be that way.
When you’re back at home with your treatment program under your belt, it’s time to focus firmly on what you have achieved so far, and to ponder the road ahead. It’s also time to stop beating yourself up emotionally for past events you cannot change. If you hold onto negative thought patterns, they’ll hamstring your progress.
Addiction is a disease, and it’s a remarkably complex disease. When drink or drugs are used to the extent that dependence builds, the brain is by this stage already rewired. You are not only physically dependent, but you also develop a strong mental and emotional connection to your substance of choice.
When you choose to put a stop to those dependencies, you’ve already demonstrated enormous resolve. Be proud of this accomplishment. Forgive yourself for anything bad that happened on your path to this point. This will further strengthen you for what lies ahead.
If you’re feeling guilty about no longer feeling guilty – and that happens – forgiving is not the same as forgetting about what happened. It’s not about forgetting your mistakes either. Instead, use these mistakes as a valuable lesson showing you what to avoid in the future.
For anyone in recovery hoping others will forgive them, forgiving yourself comes first.
2) Get a healthy routine in place
Now, assuming you have forgiven yourself, it makes sense to work on organizing yourself, and strengthening your mind and body further before you start in with others.
So often, addiction to drink or drugs leads you to develop a very unstructured life. Regularly, the substance itself becomes the central purpose of life. Most time is spent obtaining, using, or recovering from drink or drugs.
Contrast this with life in the early stages of recovery. You’ll have what might seem like a formless expanse of time to fill. Creating and implementing a positive and healthy routine will help you to keep your mind active and should help to minimize any cravings.
Sound mental health begins with feeling good about life and good about yourself. There are three neurotransmitters in your body that play a key role in happiness:
One of the best ways you can increase your levels of these feel-good chemicals naturally is to exercise – more on that below.
Kickstart your day with a healthy and filling breakfast. Ideally, perform some light exercise to get yourself limbered up for the day. Outwardly express gratitude for your choice to live more positively.
Try to include plenty of activities in your day, and make a loose plan for your day. If you’re stuck for ideas, consider the following:
- Prepare and cook a meal from scratch
- Practice mediation
- Write a recovery journal
- Clean your home room by room, day by day
- Read an inspiring book
- Watch some movies about recovery
- Take up a new hobby
- Investigate some online courses
- Try some creative writing
If you have never really used lists much before, now’s a great time to start. Planning your day with simple bullet points then checking them off as you go through your day will keep you motivated as well as keeping your mind occupied.
3) Stretch your brain every day
If you’re recovering from any addiction, you’re liable to spend a good chunk of time learning about yourself as well as the addiction that stole your life away.
Much of this learning will take place in individual and group therapy sessions. You’ll consolidate what you learn through behavioral therapies like CBT and psychotherapy. Beyond this, you’ll likely read about addiction and you may attend 12-step groups to further your understanding while strengthening your resolve at the same time.
Rather than viewing now as the time to ease off the gas and stop learning, why not capitalize on your clearer mind and continue to learn something new every day?
If you’re sick to death of reading and learning about addiction, that’s understandable, and it’s OK to leave that alone.
Instead, sharpen your mind by learning new skills. What you do is unimportant, and will anyway vary from person to person. All that counts is engaging your mind so you stay stimulated and motivated not bored and tempted to relapse.
Make learning fun. This is doubly important if you had a poor experience at school and learning has negative connotations. Keep in mind that you’re doing this for you.
By learning something new daily, you’ll keep your brain strong and supple. Enjoy these early stages of bringing the best version of yourself uppermost again.
4) Make sure you get enough sleep
Most people burdened by alcohol use disorder or substance abuse disorder find their sleep patterns are drastically disrupted.
Bingeing on drink or drugs, staying up all night and sleeping off your excesses during the day may have become standard operating procedure.
Even if you were able to maintain something approximating a regular schedule, you don’t get good quality sleep after abusing drink or drugs. You may fall asleep in no time, but that sleep will be broken and interrupted.
Getting enough sleep, and the right quality of sleep, is vital if you want to fire on all cylinders. Improving the amount and quality of sleep will make you feel more alert, more upbeat, and stronger physically, too.
Use the early stages of recovery as the perfect opportunity to recalibrate your sleeping habits and to place a sharp focus on aiming for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
5) Eat healthily and exercise daily
Many people in the throes of an active addiction fail to take enough nutrients onboard.
Make preparing and cooking healthy meals part of your daily routine. This will help you to reestablish structure and order while also helping you to reinvigorate a system battered by the abuse of drink or drugs.
Perhaps you’re already back at work and your problem is not filling time, but the fact you always seem crunched for time. Try batch-cooking and freezing meals for later in the week.
Try to incorporate a source of protein and some complex carbs in every meal. Shoot for 5 daily portions of fruit and veggies, too. If you find it hard eating enough of these, consider some juices or smoothies as a short-cut.
Eating well will also help to keep your dopamine levels high enough to boost your mood without needing to resort to drink or drugs.
Avoid excessive caffeine consumption, and try to limit your intake of fatty, sugary foods to avoid spikes and crashes of energy.
6) Work on rebuilding your relationships
By now, you should have established a firm foundation for your body and mind. Recovery is a chance for healthy new beginnings on all fronts, and it’s time to get to work on rebuilding your relationships.
When you were abusing drink or drugs, you will have pushed friends and family away, if not intentionally then by your actions and behavior when under the influence or recovering.
Now is the perfect time to build on the work you’re undertaking in counseling and therapy sessions and to start making amends with your nearest and dearest.
While there’s no time like the present to begin this process, you shouldn’t expect miracles overnight. Trust is easy to lose but often takes time to regain. As we’ve said before and we’ll say again, recovery is an ongoing journey. Rather than being impatient or trying to force things, get back into the flow of living naturally without being clouded by the poor judgment induced by substance-abuse.
Many people will be remarkably amenable to forgiving past transgressions and moving forward. Not everyone will be so willing, though, so make sure you prepare yourself for this. If you meet resistance, refrain from lashing out or reacting negatively. This will only inflame and compound the issue. Instead, simply try again another day. Many people need time to adjust, others may feel you need to earn their trust back over time. Accept this and move slowly forward.
Being patient and stressing the fact that forgiving you does not mean forgetting anything bad you were responsible for should help you start rebuilding burned bridges.
Be honest with your loved ones and don’t hide your struggles from them as you push ahead with the challenges of recovering from substance abuse.
If you and your loved ones struggle to communicate meaningfully and without conflict rapidly occurring, you could consider family counseling. Sometimes, an intermediary can diffuse tension. You’ll also learn superior communication skills you can build on at home.
7) Choose your friends wisely
When you’re easing your way into a life of sobriety, especially if you were addicted to drink or drugs for a lengthy period, you need to be extremely careful about who you spend time with.
You should limit contact with anyone who is not fully supportive of your recovery. If you feel any friends are liable to encourage you to have “Just one” or to in any way interfere with your progress, you should think twice about socializing with them.
Good friends will not worsen your cravings by reminding you of drink or drugs. On the contrary, they will help you to have fun without needing to rely on substances. Good friend will keep you motivated when you’re tempted to relapse, they’ll help you focus on your commitment to sobriety.
Don’t be afraid to be selfish with your time. How you spend your time in the early phase of recovery doesn’t need to be permanent, but you should do everything you can to surround yourself with positive influences, and to limit temptation.
When you’re re-evaluating your friendships – as you surely will when the drink and drugs fade away – ask yourself this one question…
“Is this person an obstacle to my recovery?”
Any “friend” who does not actively support your goals is not someone that deserves to be part of your life.
8) Don’t interact with toxic people
Linked to the above point, you should do everything you can to cut off contact with any drink or drug buddies likely to increases your chances of relapse.
When you start rebuilding your life in a way that doesn’t revolve around a bar or the inside of a darkened room, you may start to question why you would spend time with some friends you only really hung out with when drinking or using drugs. This is a normal part of the recovery process.
While this may be easy enough to accept, it can be hard to stop spending time with people without offending them. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this. Simply state your position, and your reasons for keeping to yourself for a while. All you can do is focus on yourself, your welfare, and your recovery. Don’t feel guilty about this, and do what’s right for you.
9) Take full advantage of peer-support groups
If you’ve just finished up an intensive treatment program, especially if this was in residential rehab, you may well find that 12-step meetings of local NA or AA groups offer the support you’re missing from your treatment program.
Surrounding yourself with other people just like you committed to ongoing sobriety can keep you motivated when you feel tempted to relapse. If you can’t visualize yourself remaining strong long-term, hearing stories from recovering addicts with years of abstinence under their belts can be remarkably inspiring.
10) Pursue ongoing addiction treatment
Build life after Recovery and find the right Treatment Programs for you
If you’re putting addiction behind you, the recovery process is ongoing. Just because you’re no longer experiencing frequent cravings for drink or drugs, it doesn’t mean the work stops.
For anyone still actively using drink or drugs and looking to stop, we hope you have taken some inspiration from today’s guide to rebuilding your life after recovery. If you need help right now, reach out to the friendly team here at the District Recovery Community. You can call us at 844.287.8506 and we’ll help you get back on track.