Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance throughout the world. Alcohol does not see color, religion, gender, or sexual preference. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, more than 88,000 people die every year from alcohol-related deaths. To date, alcohol continues to be one of the nation’s most preventative causes of death second only to tobacco and poor diet/sedentary lifestyle.
The following statistics are not new and have likely been visited before on a previous blog, but they are worth revisiting if for no other reason than to shine a light on the impact alcohol has on the American populous.
- Estimates show that approximately fifteen million people struggle with an alcohol use disorder.
- Of those fifteen million, less than ten percent will receive treatment.
As of 2010, it was estimated that approximately one in eight American adults meet the diagnostic criteria for an alcohol use disorder. But there is good news among the negative statistics. That being, with treatment, most people can overcome alcoholism. Roughly one-third of people who successfully complete a treatment program for alcohol addiction report having no further symptoms one year later. When a person is addicted to alcohol, the decision to seek treatment such as that provided at The Hills is a challenging one that requires hard work and commitment. However, after the treatment phase ends, a new chapter in be story begins, which will also require hard work and determination.
Below we have outlined several things you can do not only to survive the challenges of life after rehab but to thrive after your alcohol addiction. In the days, weeks, and years after leaving The Hills or your respective alcohol treatment program, you will face challenges. Some of the steps below may help those challenges to feel easier to navigate.
1) Clean your House
When you return home, it is important, even essential, to get rid of any reminders of your old life so you can continue to thrive after alcohol addiction. This means taking the time to look through cupboards and other storage areas and throwing out any alcohol or alcohol-related items. This includes things you may not think of immediately, such as wine glasses or beer bugs. These may seem innocent enough, but early on, any items related to your addiction can and will be a potential trigger for you to use. Consequently, it is better to err on the side of caution and toss out anything that may put your sobriety at risk. Clearing out anything that may put you in danger of relapse is another way of committing to your sobriety and making some space in your cupboards (and refrigerator) for new and healthy things in your life.
Purging old triggers from your life also means deleting, blocking, or erasing phone numbers of drinking buddies, the local liquor store, and other unsafe or potentially triggering people. For a time, you may have to defriend certain people on social media networks if they are not supportive of your recovery. This may sound harsh or like something “a friend would not do,” but your recovery is your number one priority from now on. If people are not respectful and supportive of your decision, spending time socializing with them could be triggering.
3) Prepare your story
Friends and family may not understand the process you are going through. The path to recovery and sobriety is a life-changing process. It will be helpful for you to prepare what you are going to say to anyone who offers you a drink. This will happen, so it is better to be prepared as opposed to caught off guard at what could be a weak moment. If you feel uncomfortable discussing your addiction and recovery with others, feel free to write your own story about why you are choosing not to drink. Regardless of what you say, be sure to have your thoughts prepared. As a general rule, it is best to be as honest as you can so everyone will understand your commitment to your new way of life and your goals of thriving after alcohol abuse.
4) Learn to deal with people (outside of rehab)
People outside of rehab will not always be as supportive of sympathetic as those you worked within rehab. You will meet people who act in a way that induces stress or is merely unkind. Unfortunately, once you leave rehab, there aren’t on call group meetings or people by your side to intervene. Keeping a clear head is vital to your recovery, so when you do encounter those people, don’t stoop to their level. Let them be in their negative place and move on with your day.
5) Don’t let problems take control
You will be able to prevent a lot of problems and potential triggers if you deal with issues as soon as they arise. This should be your new attitude about everything in your life going forwards. This includes mundane tasks such as paying bills, dealing with relationship challenges, or coping with triggering events. Addiction is a disorder that involves hiding and isolating. Thriving after alcohol and your continued recovery is about facing up to things and addressing them in the best and safest way you know how. If you are struggling with sobriety or triggers, get help immediately rather than sitting on the sidelines, watching red flags go up, and hoping it gets better.
6) Routines are important
While you are at rehab, you will have had a strict schedule to adhere to. This schedule was filled with set activities, regular meals, and time set aside for therapy and recovery work. Developing a healthy routine is essential to your ability to thrive after alcohol addiction treatment and your return home from rehab. Make sure you are eating meals on a regular schedule and sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Also, be sure to set aside time to do the things necessary to maintain your sobriety. Putting a routine in place will help to ensure you don’t have too much idle time, which can be very dangerous to someone who is newly sober.
7) Aftercare is important
If the treatment program you completed has helped you arrange care after you leave residential treatment-use it. Recovery work does not stop when your initial rehabilitation stay ends. You must continue to do the work and do the things that support you to stay clean, sober, and healthy-minded on a long-term basis. You may also consider things like getting a recovery coach or attending meetings with recovery-related groups. Although face to face interaction and support is the most beneficial, items such as recovery and self-help books can also be useful.
8) Don’t ignore your mental health
Prolonged, heavy drinking has been shown to have a significant impact on the brain. More often than not, those who have an alcohol use disorder also have a diagnosed mental health disorder as well. Issues such as anxiety and depression are very common co-occurring disorders for those in treatment for alcohol abuse. If you experience feelings of anxiety and depression either during rehab or during recovery, be sure to seek treatment for these as well. Ignoring these emotions can lead to maladaptive coping skills and potentially relapse.
9) Develop new interests
Boredom has been the cause of many cases of relapse over time. While you are experiencing the symptoms of addiction, your addiction takes up so much of your time and energy and contributes to so much drama that your post-rehab life can feel too quiet and empty. This is when you need to fill your life with things that are inspiring and uplifting or which help you find a sense of purpose. Drinking often offers a feeling of pleasure you cannot get elsewhere, and now that outlet has been removed. Take the time to seek out those things you are interested in and pursue them. These can include things like joining a like-minded group or club, taking a class, investing in our personal development, or starting an exercise routine.
They may also be things such as going back to school, volunteering, or learning a new craft. Whatever you choose, it should be an activity that draws upon your strengths as that can lead to a deeper sense of fulfillment. Recovery is not just about staying sober, and it is about how you thrive after alcohol addiction. As a result, your time becomes about building a satisfying and inspiring life without alcohol. Ensuring you remain busy provides less time to fall back into destructive patterns.
10) Finish Healing
In rehab, you likely only scratched the surface on the elements from your past that may have led to or contributed to your suffering from addiction. Many people who have addictions as adults have or had unresolved issues from their childhood, which led to low self-esteem, anxiety, and other emotional or mental health problems. Even after rehab is completed, you will feel better in the long run if you seek out help for the deeper emotional trauma that likely has not been addressed as of yet.
11) Live a healthier life
People who eat well and exercise will feel better both physically and mentally. This does not mean you need to rush out and buy a gym membership or sign up for the next Spartan Race. Quite the contrary. Take the time to get outside and be in the fresh air. Go for a walk or hike. Consider taking a bike ride or participating in a club sport. The goal is to get out and move your body physically as opposed to sitting at home (likely in isolation), trying to move beyond the memories of your past, which surround you. Additionally, try to eat a balanced diet and eat regular meals. Keeping your diet in check and limiting fatty or starchy foods will also ensure you have more energy and feel physically better each day.
12) Stay present
Allow yourself permission to let go of worries about the past, present, or future. Don’t create or hold onto expectations except for that things will get easier if you stay the course and do the right things. Adopting this attitude can help you get through difficult situations, triggering events, and overwhelming cravings to self-medicate. Remember, no matter how painful or difficult the day may be-it will end and tomorrow will be a different day. You will be better able to deal with any challenge that arises with a clear head. Challenging days will come-but, so will amazing days. Thriving after alcohol addictions means that in time, the amazing days outweigh the challenging ones and the challenging ones become much easier to manage.
If you have been struggling with alcohol addiction, and aspire to change your life for the better, consider addiction treatment at The Hills. Our expert team of medical providers can help you determine the best treatment plan for you and help you through the most challenging aspects of the path to sobriety. Rehab and recovery are not easy, but with a strong team to help you through the process, the challenges become much more attainable.