What comes after rehab? For many people recovering from alcoholism, life after alcohol rehab is both a hopeful and a worrisome thought. How will you stay sober, out in the “real” world, faced with easy access and constant temptations? Sure, you paid attention during all the relapse prevention workshops, but living it is different. How can you maintain a sober lifestyle? Here are some tips for not only surviving, but thriving, in your sober life.
- Don’t call it relapse prevention. That’s like telling yourself “don’t think about the color pink.” It puts the thing you don’t want to do front and center in your brain. Train yourself to be positive and focus on what you want: a happy, healthy, fulfilling sober lifestyle. You can come up with a catchier phrase than that, but be positive and focus on what you want, not on what you want to avoid.
- Keep the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) slogan “people, places and things” in mind as you develop a new life after alcohol rehab: new friends, hobbies and activities. Be wary of self sabotage, and keep making choices that protect and enhance your recovery.
- Stay connected to the communities of people that help you most: self-help groups and your therapist or therapy group. You might be able to attend therapy sessions less frequently over time as you advance in your sober life, but don’t cut that cord. Staying connected to professionals who know you is an excellent protective factor for your sobriety.
- Expect challenges. Expect to feel all sorts of strong emotions about being sober, including sadness, anger, resentment and grief. You have lost a part of yourself, and no matter how badly it needed to go, it is still a loss. From time to time, the emotions associated with that loss may come up. You will still feel unpleasant emotions in your life after alcohol rehab, but instead of relapsing, you’ll use all your different coping skills to process the feelings and ultimately accept them and move on.
- Coping skills. You might get sick of hearing that phrase, but developing new, fun, and powerful coping skills to address all the challenges of sober life is key. Your options are many: exercise, hobbies, meditation or prayer, journaling, artwork, and any other self exploration you can think of!
Life after alcohol rehab will have its ups and downs. Stay positive, and stay committed to yourself and your health, and you’ll get through even the most challenging times. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3163190/ https://psychcentral.com/lib/relapse-prevention/ https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh23-2/151-160.pdf