Starting your life over after treatment for addiction can be difficult. Once you’ve left the sober confines of a rehabilitation center or treatment program, you have to tackle daily life without substances while still facing triggers. The first 90 days of your recovery are absolutely crucial to your sobriety. This is the time when relapse is most likely to happen.
Even though you are at a higher risk of relapse at this time, there are some ways that you can truly embrace your sobriety. Take these tips under consideration in order to give yourself the best chance at a full recovery.
How to Start Over Without Risking Your Sobriety
Your newly sober life will present itself with many challenges. Learning to navigate your daily struggles without the aid of your addiction can be hard, but it does not have to be impossible. There are many things that you can do to help you adjust safely and permanently to sobriety.
Some of the ways that you can reacquaint yourself to sober living are outlined in the following chart.
Tip for Starting Over and How to Do It
- Commit to Sobriety. -Focus on your recovery by making sure to go to self-help meetings, getting a sponsor to help you remain sober, and actively working your recovery.
- Prepare for Relapse. -Statistically, you are more likely to relapse than to not relapse. Prepare yourself by noting signs that may suggest you are close to relapsing. Being able to notice signs that you are in danger of relapse can help you prevent it from happening.
- Forgive Yourself. -Many recovering addicts struggle most with forgiving themselves. Accept that you made many mistakes, so you can stop living in the past, be able to move on, and begin making better, healthier decisions. Don’t be ashamed of your past; be proud of your present.
- Focus on the Positive. – Some people struggle with being able to focus on the positive because of the fear of living sober and the fear of relapsing. It is important to learn to focus on the positive aspects of your life. You’ve already made many beneficial changes.
- Take Care of Yourself. – One great way to help maintain your sobriety is to take care of your physical health. Eat well, make sure to get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. Be careful not to replace your addiction with another compulsion, though – for instance, exercising too often and too much. Always try to maintain moderation and balance.
- Make Good Use of Schedules, Routines, and Daily Agendas. – Daily routines and schedules can help to keep your mind busy; a bored mind is dangerous during recovery. Plan your days. Establish routines. Get a day planner to help you keep up with your meetings and appointments. Daily routines and schedules help you get used to managing your own times and maintaining a stable lifestyle.
- Build Your Support Network. – Having a support network is absolutely necessary for staying sober. You can find support groups online and in your community. You can also rely on friends and family as part of your support network. Choose people that are willing to help you remain sober and as free from stress as possible.
- Get Back to Work, but not too Soon. -It is important to go back to work, but it is equally as important to remember that you need to have time to attend your meetings and work your program completely. Ensure that your job allows you to still focus on your recovery. Sometimes, this means changing jobs or careers.
- Create Flexible Goals that Allow for Growth. – One common mistake made by addicts in recovery is making unrealistic goals because they are eager to prove to themselves that they can live sober and happy. However, concrete goals are not always healthy. Flexible goals allow for some wiggle room, so the addict doesn’t feel trapped by their own goals. You’re less likely to feel failure with flexible goals.
- Learn to Make the Right Choices. – You may struggle with finding the confidence to make your own decisions while in recovery. Take your time when making important decisions. There is nothing wrong with thinking about your choices thoroughly. Additionally, you can always reach out to your support network for help with decisions.
- Pursue Your Dreams. – Your sobriety is your second chance at life. Now is the perfect time to pursue dreams that you’ve always wanted to pursue. Change careers. Go back to school. Travel. It’s up to you!
- Serve Others. -Addiction is a very self-serving disease. Serving others can help you gain a sense of purpose and self-fulfillment that will help you maintain your sobriety. Volunteering and helping others can also help you combat boredom, which is one of the biggest relapse triggers.
- Find Ways to Relax. – Being able to relax will help you keep your emotions stable while in recovery. You can try things like yoga, reading, acupuncture, sound therapy, massage, meditation, joining a gym, and even playing golf.
- Find a New Activity or Hobby. – Activities and hobbies are also vital for sobriety because they combat boredom. Find things that keep your mind and hands busy like cross stitching, knitting, building model cars, putting puzzles together, or writing a journal.
- Know that You Deserve to be Happy. – Fully embrace that your past is in your past and that you deserve happiness.
Hard Truths About Sobriety – What You Should Know
As stated before, the first 90 days of your sobriety are crucial – they set the tone for the rest of your recovery process. There are some things that you need to be aware of and remember during the first three months of your recovery, and they are:
- Your chance for relapse is highest within the first 90 days of recovery.
- In fact, your overall health is at great risk within the first 90 days of recovery.
- “One day at a time” is a common mantra used for those trying to maintain their sobriety. It reminds you that every day will be better than the day before, but the first few days are the absolute worst.
- Never try to quit cold turkey. In the beginning of your recovery, it is smarter to do too much to remain sober than too little.
- Getting the proper support when you begin your recovery will make it more likely that you will have a successful recovery and stay sober for longer.
- Addiction recovery is not about just stopping the use of substances – it is a literal reinvention of yourself and your life that does not involve substances.
Some of the most important things to know regarding recovery and sobriety include:
- It gets harder before it gets easier. In the beginning of your recovery, you will have to adjust your life according to what your sobriety needs. This may require cutting some relationships out completely and repairing others. You must face things you may have done in the past that you are not proud of so you can move on. Self-awareness is key at this phase.
- You are not alone. As an adult, many activities that you do have alcohol (and sometimes other substances) present. Staying away from substances often can feel isolating – like you’re having to stay away from your friends and family. There are plenty of ways to make sure that you do not feel alone. Embrace online recovery groups, chatrooms, and websites.
- It’s okay to not be okay. You will have bad days. It is inevitable. And it’s completely okay to have bad days. Don’t hide your emotions on these days. Allow yourself to feel them in order to overcome them. Having occasional bad days does not make you a failure.
- Your life will get so full. When you first enter sober life after rehabilitation, it can feel extremely lonely. Cutting out the substances in your life also means cutting out certain people and activities that used to make you happy. However, there are so many chances to grow within your sobriety. Replacing substances with fulfilling activities and healthy relationships fulfills your life in ways you would not have believed were possible before.
- Change is uncomfortable. This sounds like common sense, but some people don’t realize exactly how uncomfortable change can be. During your addiction, you developed habits and routines that were unhealthy. Changing these habits and routines can prove to be difficult. You must focus a bit more in order to not make poor choices. Evaluate things more closely. Build up your self-worth in order to feel confident in your recovery. Start with small changes and work up to bigger ones that will help maintain your sobriety.
- Don’t set your expectations too high. Do not leave rehab thinking that you are so strong that your triggers won’t affect you. Do not think that you are above relapse. Understand that statistics show the chances of an addict relapsing can be as high as sixty percent If you stumble and fall into old habits during your recovery, know that entering a treatment program multiple times is not failure – it’s simply a determination to succeed.
- Boredom is the real threat to sobriety. Make sure that you follow up with support groups and make new friends that also live sober lives. Find things to do that are not centered around alcohol and drugs. Go back to do old hobbies you stopped because of your addiction. Find new activities that make you happy. Stay busy! Boredom is the number one cause of relapse.
Dealing with Relapse: How to Regain Your Sobriety
Understanding how relapse happens is the best defense against relapsing. There are two different types of relapse. One is called traditional relapse and happens when a recovering addict knowingly ingests drugs or alcohol. The other kind, called “freelapse,” happens when someone unknowingly ingests drugs or alcohol.
With traditional relapse, the relapse can begin weeks or even months before the recovering addict actually drinks alcohol or uses drugs. There are often three stages of relapse:
- Emotional Relapse describes the stage where the recovering addict starts to neglect dealing with their emotions in a healthy way. Bottling up their feelings, falling into isolation, and neglecting their own self-care are signs that they are in emotional relapse. In this stage, the addict may not be thinking about using again but their actions will lead them to relapse if they are not fixed.
- Mental Relapse describes the stage where the recovering addict starts to feel conflicted about their sobriety. They may be struggling because one part of them wants to stay sober while the other part is craving alcohol or drugs. During this state, the addict might try to glorify their past substance abuse and actively seek out situations where they can get high.
- Physical Relapse describes the stage where the recovering addict literally ingests drugs or alcohol.
It is important to be able to recognize when you are entering emotional or mental relapse in order to correct your behavior and thoughts to avoid physical relapse. Preventing relapse is the best way to protect your sobriety.
Know that the following factors are the biggest risks for relapse in recovering addicts:
- Exposure to personal triggers
- Increased stress
- Problems in your personal life
- Peer pressure
- Lack of a support network
- Pain due to new injuries, accidents, or medical issues
- Low confidence in your sobriety
- Positive moods that make you want to “celebrate” with substances
Maintaining your sobriety is possible with determination and a conscious effort to change your life. Understand that you are replacing the void that you used to fill with substances with things that keep you healthy and happy like positive friendships, proper diet and exercise, and activities that you love.
Sobriety is not just staying away from drugs and alcohol – it is rebuilding and reshaping your life to not have a need for substances.
If you’re trying to get addiction treatment for yourself or for someone you love, reach out to The Hills for comprehensive and caring treatment that will help patients detox and learn the skills to cope with their triggers and their addiction. You have options, let The Hills be one of them.