So, you’ve completed drug and alcohol rehab treatment. That’s an awesome accomplishment. Yet, you are wondering how you can maintain long-term sobriety in the days, weeks, months, and years after treatment.
This is a common question people ponder after successfully completing an addiction treatment program. After all, addiction and substance use treatment centers provide a structured environment and safe haven where the stresses, pressures, and relapse triggers of everyday life are removed. Venturing out of the confines of rehab can be intimidating, if not terrifying. Fortunately, there are many things that a newly sober individual can do following addiction treatment to help him or her maintain their abstinence and sobriety long after treatment.
Before getting into the tips for maintaining long-term sobriety, it is important for the recovering individual to know that lapses into drinking or taking drugs do not indicate that treatment was a failure. Instead, lapses signal that the treatment needs to be revisited or modified, or another treatment modality is needed.
In addition, keep in mind that recovery is a uniquely individualized experience. This means that every single person will go through this journey in their own way. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all path to maintaining a life of sobriety, just as there is no single treatment that works well for every individual learning how to overcome an addiction. Accordingly, use what resonates for your individual situation, and tweak the rest to fit your unique self.
- Take things slowly. Initially following rehab, you may feel overwhelmed by all the changes. That’s natural to feel that way. However, there’s no rush. Take things day by day, hour by hour, or if necessary, minute by minute.
- Keep a long-term view. There’s no doubt that rehab for drug use or alcohol addiction can be a grueling process. You may have an adjustment as you transition to everyday life. Not only is your body no longer comprised of toxic substances, but you’ve learned quite a bit about coping strategies and living a life of sobriety. You must not be so hard on yourself as you transition back into your normal routine. Transition will take time and accept that in view of a long-term, healthier life.
- Be cautious about taking on too much responsibility. You may be super excited to be free of all the toxins in your body, and getting back involved in your life. That’s a great sign. But it is important to not be so overeager that you take on so much responsibility that has the potential to make you too stressed or overwhelmed with dealing with the pressures.
- Refrain from spending time with friends who are still involved with drug or alcohol. You may be tempted to get in contact with old friends. However, if these friends still use drugs or drink, it is best not to hang around them (even if they say they will abstain while around you). Instead, develop new social activities that do not involve alcohol or drugs.
- Continue with aftercare. As part of your drug and alcohol rehab treatment, you were most likely introduced to aftercare programs or community meetings outside of rehab. Continuing with these aftercare programs is an important component of maintaining long-term sobriety and staying focused on recovery.
- Believe in your success. A critical component to success, whether in alcohol sobriety, abstinence from drugs, or getting that next promotion at work, is to believe it will happen. Having such a belief that you will succeed in a goal that you set out for yourself elicits a focus, energy, and confidence you need to realize those goals.
Are there more strategies for maintaining long-term sobriety than the ones listed above? You bet there are. The key is to utilize as many strategies, including new ones that will work best for you. Maintaining a life of sobriety involves continuous adjustments, growth, and learning, and it is so worth it.