It takes a fierce amount of pain, effort, and strength for someone suffering from an alcohol or substance use disorder to surrender and ask for help. But once you complete a structured rehab program, what’s next?
After graduating from a recovery program, most of us will pack up and head back home. And that’s when a new challenge begins and the journey on the path toward recovery continues.
The Big Transition
The first 90 days of sobriety is often referred to as intensive care. Detoxing and “coming to” is an intense and frightening process. So, what can you do to make sure your transition from rehab to home is a successful one?
Here’s a quick guide containing seven insightful tips that will help you make the most of your sober homecoming.
- This Is Only Temporary
The fear and uncertainty you feel post-rehab is absolutely normal. Sobriety can feel a lot like shaking a carbinated beverage and opening it. All of the emotions we’ve pushed down with drugs and alcohol come forcefully spewing out. It can be extremely overwhelming. The key is to stay steady until you get your sea legs.
Don’t spend too much time alone. Get some sober friends to go to the movies, see a show, go for a walk, cook together, or just spend time together and talk. The emotional roller coaster will come to a halt with time, so as difficult as it may seem/feel, be patient.
- Make Self-Care a Priority
Addiction is the antithesis of caring for ourselves. It’s time to go back to basics. If getting through a full day is too hard, then take a nap. Your body’s been through a lot and will need to catch up on rest. Don’t fight it; surrender and lay down.
- Go Ahead, Eat Some Sweets
Alcohol and drugs feed off reward receptors in the brain. That chocolate craving you’re trying to stifle is actually a normal part of the detox process. Sweets can actually give your brain a nice little boost and help soothe lingering cravings. Carry hard candy, chocolate bars, caramel chews, or other sweets with you throughout the day.
- Stand on Your Own
Saying goodbye to your drug of choice is difficult. After all, this drug or alcohol has essentially been the love of your life for quite some time! In its absence, you may notice an urge to relationship hop. Don’t do it!
Broken hearts are one of the leading causes of relapse. For now, steer clear of emotional entanglements and focus on you. And don’t let yourself fall in love in therapy sessions or 12-step meetings. That’s like shopping in the dented can isle of the grocery store.
Replacement Strategy Tip: Once home, you’ll need to replace old drug-fueled habits with positive and healthy activities. For example, instead of hanging out with people who are still using, you can invite a few sober friends over for a cookout. It’s all about making smart and sober choices.
- Don’t Run with Your First Thought
A slip always starts with a thought or, worse yet, built-up resentment. It’s a good idea to check in with a trusted friend, family member, or sponsor about any major decisions that fall in your plate during your first 90 days home.
In truth, most successful people run their thinking by trusted and respected friends/co-workers. Remember it’s our bright ideas that got us into this mess in the first place.
- Don’t Be a Hero
So you’re clean and sober, meaning you can’t drink or do drugs anymore. Now what?
Well, look at it this way; it’s certainly not the worst thing that could have happened. You don’t need to overcompensate by working sixteen hour days or constantly pretending that you’re fine. It’s okay to take a few mental health days and turn down invitations to cocktail parties. You’ll be able to handle life like never before…if you just give yourself enough time.
- Avoid Taking Yourself Too Seriously
Easy does it on the drama. Many of us are very sensitive and, as we begin taking our heads out of the ground to view the wreckage, we can easily slip into self-pity or depression.
Finding ways to laugh is vital to our early sobriety. Go see a comedy show, a funny movie or simply hang out with that wacky friend who always cracks you up. It’s a great mood changer and, even better, it’s not an activity that will send you back to rehab.
Additional Reading: The Role of Yoga in Embodied Recovery