How to Survive and Thrive After Rehab (10 Essential Tips)

You may think that going to rehab was the hardest thing you ever had to do; but leaving rehab can be just as tough if you haven’t prepared yourself properly.

Going to rehab to deal with your addiction may be hard work, but it’s also a safe, caring place, with people to support you 24/7. When your time is up, and you have to stay clean and sober in the real world, you must all face your issues without the same level of support and protection.

It is essential to make a plan for coming home from rehab, in order to avoid relapse and deepen your recovery. Here are 10 tips to help:

1. Clean Your House

When you get home, it’s important to get rid of any reminders of your old life. That means throwing out any drug or alcohol-related objects. Wine glasses and beer mats may seem innocent enough, but any paraphernalia related to your addiction is a potential trigger for you to use. It’s better to err on the side of caution and eliminate anything that might jeopardize your recovery. Clearing away anything that could put you in danger of relapse is a way of committing to sobriety and making space for new, healthy things in your life.

2. Disconnect

Getting rid of old triggers also means deleting and blocking phone numbers of dealers, drinking buddies, or other unsafe people. You may have to ‘defriend’ certain people on social media networks if they’re not supportive of your recovery. It may sound harsh, but your recovery is number one from now on – and anyone that doesn’t respect that has no place in your life.

3. Get Your Story Straight

Friends and family might not understand that you’re in the process of changing your life. Prepare what you are going to say to anyone who offers you drugs or asks you out for a drink. If you feel uncomfortable about telling others about your addiction and recovery, a few white lies about why you aren’t drinking won’t hurt. Generally, though, it’s best to be as honest as you can, so that people understand that you’re committed to a new way of life now.

4. Learn to Deal With People

People outside rehab will not necessarily be as supportive or sympathetic as your rehab keyworkers and counselors. You will meet people who act unkindly or stress you out, and there will be no-one to call a group meeting or intervene. Keeping a clear conscience is vital to your recovery, so, if you encounter someone mean, don’t ever drop to their level. Consider that this poor person has to put up with themselves 24 hours a day; you only have to suffer them for a fraction of that time.

5. Intervene Early

You can prevent a lot of problems by dealing with issues as soon as they arise. You should make this your new attitude to everything in life, from dealing with bills, to coping with relationships, to dealing with threats to your recovery. Addiction is a disorder of hiding away; recovery is about facing up to things. If you are struggling with your sobriety, get help immediately, rather than watching helplessly as all the red flags go up.

6. Get A Routine

Your rehab will have had a strict schedule to adhere to, with set activities, regular meals and time set aside for recovery work. If you’ve been an addict, you may have found the schedule a shock to the system, as you may have been living a chaotic existence. Developing a healthy routine is a very good idea when you get home. Make sure you’re eating and sleeping regularly, and putting aside time to do what’s necessary to help you maintain your sobriety. Having a routine can ensure you don’t have too much idle time, which can be dangerous when you’re newly sober.

7. Get Aftercare

If your rehab package includes an aftercare program, use it. Recovery work does not stop when rehab ends. You must do things that support you to stay clean, sober, and healthy-minded on an ongoing basis. If your package does not include aftercare, there are other things you can do. You could consider getting a Recovery Coach, attending fellowship groups or joining other recovery-related groups. While face-to-face interaction and support are ideal, recovery literature and self-help books can also be useful aftercare tools.

8. Develop Your Interests

Unfortunately, boredom has been the cause of many a relapse. Addiction takes up so much time and energy, and causes so much drama, that life can feel empty and flat without it. Fill your life with things that uplift and inspire you. Find out what you’re interested in, and pursue it. Join interesting groups, clubs, classes, and invest in your personal development. Recovery is not just about staying sober; it’s about building a satisfying and fulfilling life without drink and drugs.

9. Finish Healing

In rehab, you may have only had time to start touching on the elements from your past that may have contributed to your suffering from addiction. In my experience, most people who have had addictions have issues from childhood that have led to low self-esteem, anxiety or other problems. You will feel much freer, and much happier sober, if you get help to heal those deep emotional scars. Seek out a Therapist to finish clearing the traumas of your past.

10. Stay Present

Let go of worries about the past or future, and don’t have any expectations – except that things will get easier if you do the right things. This attitude can help you get through difficult situations, torrid emotional states, and cravings to use. Remember that even the most painful days will always end, and you will be able to deal with problems much better with a clear head and a clear conscience.

Beth Burgess

Beth Burgess is a Therapist and Recovery Coach, specialising in addiction, anxiety, stress, mental health, and wellbeing. She is the author of The Recovery Formula and The Happy Addict, and also a speaker, trainer and freelance writer. Beth is a bit of a walking miracle, having recovered from alcoholism, social anxiety disorder, bulimia, self-harm and Borderline Personality Disorder. Beth uses traditional psychotherapy, NLP, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and more. She offers sessions in Islington, London or via Skype.
Beth Burgess