A Clean Slate: 5 Tips on How to Stay Sober After Treatment
There’s a saying that most addicts are probably familiar with: “Recovery is a journey that never ends.” Once an addict, always an addict.
Now, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope for recovery. What it does mean is that maintaining sobriety after treatment and recovering from an addiction is something that’s lifelong.
And we won’t lie to you: it’s difficult. 40-60% of addicts experience some sort of relapse after treatment.
Set yourself up for success after treatment by following these 5 tips. While these tips won’t do the work for you, they will help you get in the best mental and physical place possible for you to be successful during your recovery.
1. Find Things to Occupy Your Time
Think about how much time and energy your addiction took up. Between partying, using your drug of choice, finding ways to hide your abuse, talking with your dealer, and planning schemes to get drugs/money, chances are most of your life revolved around your addiction.
So now that you’ve gone through treatment, you might find yourself with much more time on your hands than you’re used to. All this free time can be dangerous: if you get bored, sad, or depressed, you might find yourself falling into old habits.
Find new, and healthy, things to occupy your time.
Consider taking up a new hobby. Running is a great hobby that will keep you healthy and can even help in addiction recovery (more on that later). Or, you could try learning a new instrument.
Or you could join a book club. Or start a blog. Try taking a class at a local college. Consider baking, cooking, or crafts.
Anything that will keep you busy, occupied, and away from environments that encourage drug/alcohol use will help you stay sober.
2. Avoid Stress and Triggers
Whether you went to out-patient or in-patient rehab or simply got a treatment method from a doctor, once that treatment is done, you’re free to go back to your old life.
The problem is your old life put you on a path to addiction. Instead of falling back into old habits, you need to identify problem areas in your old life that you should avoid.
Identify Triggers and Avoid Them
Did certain friends have a bad influence on you? What about certain hangouts, like bars or parties? Did you always want to drink or use at concerts or before a stressful meeting at work?
Identify what parts of your old life triggered your need and desire to use. Once you’ve identified those triggers, do your best to avoid them, especially in your early recovery.
Perhaps one day in the future you’ll be able to attend concerts or go to bars without being at risk of a relapse. But to stay sober right after treatment, you should do your best to avoid those things that trigger you.
High stress and anxiety are huge triggers for relapse. Avoiding things that trigger those emotions for you is a great start for avoiding relapse.
However, you should do your best to reduce your overall stress as much as you can. This could be with breathing techniques, medication, mindfulness, relaxing baths, going to therapy, or anything else that helps reduce stress for you. The use of NAD boosters has been shown to relieve stress and decrease the likelihood of a relapse.
2. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
When you’re healthy and living a healthy lifestyle, you’ll feel better. So if you fill the void your drug of choice used to fill with unhealthy foods, laziness, and other unhealthy habits, you’ll feel awful.
This can lead to a relapse.
Diet and Nutrition
A healthy diet filled with whole, natural foods will make you feel great, and can help undo some of the damage that drug abuse does to your body. Eat foods high in protein, starches, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating these types of foods can balance the serotonin levels in your brain that have likely been affected by your drug/alcohol use. Balancing those levels out makes recovery easier, relapse less likely, and will make you feel happier.
Getting proper exercise is a huge help for staying sober after treatment. Numerous studies show that consistent exercise will boost endorphins in the brain, which can help fight depression and anxiety (both of which are common in recovering addicts that can lead to relapse).
Studies also show that exercise can be used as a treatment for drug addiction since it can improve mental and physical health in recovering addicts.
4. Join a Sober Community
We don’t necessarily mean you have to live in a sober living house (although those can be beneficial after treatment). However, it can be hard to be the only sober one in your social circle or your family.
Find sober friends, sober community groups, and meetings you can attend. Having a social group to lean on for support and understanding is crucial for successful recovery.
If you aren’t comfortable in social settings, there are plenty of online communities you can join.
5. Recovery Doesn’t Stop After Treatment
Recovering from an addiction isn’t like recovering from a cold. You don’t get treatment and claim to be cured.
It takes consistent effort and work to overcome addiction. This means that treatment is never truly over: you have to keep working.
Meetings and Recovery Groups
Find group meetings in your area, like Alcoholics Anonymous or Sex Addicts Anonymous, or sober community clubs/groups. There, you’ll find the community we talked about in tip #4 and give yourself a chance to keep working through your issues.
Most addictions are the result of underlying issues, whether that’s anxiety, depression, relationship problems, mental disorders, or stress. Working through the root of your issues in therapy is crucial to really overcome your problem.
Whether you got therapy in rehab, went to a treatment program, or got treatment from a doctor, you need to keep up with your follow-up appointments. Don’t get overly confident after you leave treatment: you’re not out of the woods yet.
It might be tempting to blow off follow-ups if you’re feeling good. But don’t fall into that trap. Recovery takes consistent work; don’t stop working just because you got cocky after treatment.
No matter what treatment program you went through, recovery doesn’t end after treatment. Use these 5 tips to set yourself up for long-term success fighting your addiction.
Do you find yourself needing some extra help or some more support? Contact us and we can help.