Sounds a simple word, doesn’t it? Defined as “the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.” Simple. I’ve done it a lot. I transitioned from a seemingly happy kid to a sad one. I transitioned from a kid who smoked the occasional joint with the other kids who lived on our block to a kid that was taking stronger stuff to feel good, to get a higher high. I transitioned from teenager sneaking a bottle of liquor from my Dad’s drinks cabinet to someone who would wake up in a dumpster of all places, with no memory of how I got there or how I got all the bruises. Yes, back then, transitioning was an easy thing to do.
I have now transitioned from an addict into a recovering addict. My body has transitioned from being weak and unhealthy to one that is fit. My mind has transitioned from the utter mess it used to be to one that is nowhere near mess it was. Thanks to rehab, I’m where I am now - a recovering alcoholic and a recovering drug addict that has a sense of hope about the life I’m living now. This transition, however, has been far from easy. To be honest, thousands and thousands of miles from anything remotely approaching easy. Thankfully, I got help.
This article is for those that are interested in the subject, and those that have to be interested in the subject - those who find themselves at a point in their lives where I once stood. It’s entitled “5 Tips etc...” but it could well be named “Your All-Important Next 5 Steps....” Because these next steps that you take are paramount to remaining clean and sober once you have walked out of that rehab’s front door.
By following the advice given below, learned from someone who was there, someone as fearful as you that relapse back into addiction would one day come knocking, you stand a better chance of getting to where you need to be, and staying clean and sober. My name’s Andy. Let’s begin.
Start Planning During Rehab for Your Life After
What’s that saying? “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” That’s as true of you know as it ever was. Probably more so. Planning while in rehab, with the support of the professional staff around you, for what comes after is your first step. Remember, treatment is about getting sober; recovery is about staying that way.
Some hard facts. The threat of relapse is evident, even after getting sober. In fact, after treatment, 60% of drug addicts relapse, and 90% of alcoholics do so too. That in itself highlights the importance of good planning. The plan needs to provide practical ways for you to transition into a better life than the one you had before, all messed up and broken as it was. This new, better life has one key element - it’s a life of abstinence. And it’s for the long-term.
Individuals will benefit from the preparation rehab provides them, such as:
- Education: Knowing about the warning signs of possible relapse, and how to react.
- How to deal with cravings and outside triggers.
- The importance of family support in continuing therapy.
- Confidence-building exercises in overcoming everyday obstacles and problems.
When this information is imparted to you, believe me, you need to be the best, most attentive student in the classroom.
The Importance of Structure
A day in rehab is a highly structured one. It’s filled with therapy, both one-to-one and group, meals served at set times, education, and recreation. By having your day so structured, it provides the recently detoxed addict with the security of knowing exactly what is going to happen next. Once you leave rehab, you need to create your own structured day.
Your day-to-day structure needs to be planned, and filled with similar activities, preventing the onset of boredom and reducing possible stress. Activities can include such things as:
- Exercise: This activity, done aerobically, will not only keep you active, but will help to reduce cravings by increasing levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine provides us with a feel-good sensation. Exercise during addiction recovery will also help your general mental health by improving confidence and mood. It doesn’t matter to me how you exercise, but it matters to you. Choose a physical activity you like, or learn a new one, to maintain your interest.
- Work/Chores: Do something productive. Productivity increases self-esteem and provides a valuable sense of purpose.
- Keeping a Journal: Using a journal to reflect on the past, and allow you to focus on the improvements in your life is excellent self-therapy, as well as a worthwhile activity. Use it to remind yourself of why staying clean and sober is important to you. Always, always make a note of what you have achieved that day; self-praise is the positive reinforcement you need.
- Other activities: Don’t be limited by these recommendations. Do more. It can be anything from scheduling coffee with a friend, going to a meeting, making a call to a family member, even just going for a simple walk. Structure them into your day.
You should, of course, still be receiving a level of therapy for your addiction. As well as this, you definitely need to schedule in relaxation time.
Understand Your Relapse Warning Signs
You cannot escape the warning signs of possible relapse, regardless of the number of years you have been clean and sober. You can’t avoid them, and you need to deal with them. Such warning signs may include:
- Mood swings
- Overconfidence in your recovery
- Bad expectations
Life in rehab will have taught you how to deal with these warning signs. The importance of the rehab classroom again.
Your Support System
Vital for the recovering addict is their support system. Your rehab / treatment center will assist you in building the necessary network - this should include:
- Healthcare professionals: Your therapist, doctor, other addiction specialists.
- Influential figures: Parents, other family members, close friends not involved in your previous abuse.
Lastly, Look at the Long-Term...
Not only do you need to take a long-term view of your condition, so do those around you. Addiction is a chronic disease and requires your attention every single day of the rest of your life. Fact. Your transition into your better life ahead hinges on you accepting this. If you don’t or can’t, your life will return to what it once was. Those around you need to be aware of this too.
However, take it from me. Look at it long-term, and that’s how long your recovery will continue to be a successful one.
This article has looked at 5 tips to help you transition to a better life after rehab. It won’t be easy for you, but it’ll be worth it. By starting to plan your transition in rehab, knowing the importance of a daily structure, understanding warning signs, building a support system, and looking at the long-term, that better life is waiting for you.
If you would like to comment, please feel free to do so below. Have you got any advice for those facing such a transition? Let us know your thoughts. Take care.