Whether this is your first time in rehab or your fifth, learning how to stay sober after treatment is important. Getting sober in the first place is a huge accomplishment, but staying sober in the long run is difficult for some. Addiction, being characterized as a chronic, relapsing brain disease, means that relapse is sometimes a part of the disease. In fact, relapse is completely normal. However, it isn’t mandatory. While plenty of people relapse, plenty of people stay sober after their first time in treatment.
Addiction treatment centers provide a safe, supported living environment that promotes safety, comfort, and sobriety. It’s easy to stay sober in treatment with the right therapy and support, but after you leave, you may be exposed to triggers that make you want to use or circumstances that seem especially challenging. For these reasons, it’s important to have a relapse prevention plan. Here are 5 tips that help prevent relapse and help you stay sober after leaving addiction treatment.
Join a Support or Self-Help Group
Recovery doesn’t end after rehab is over. Consequently, most rehabs encourage patients to join a support group or self-help group to help them stay sober after treatment ends. These groups help connect like-minded individuals who suffer from addiction or alcoholism. Most recovery support groups hold regular meetings where members get together to share their experiences and talk about how they stay sober. Some examples of support groups include:
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
- Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- Other 12-Step Fellowships (Heroin Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, etc.)
- SMART Recovery
- Refuge Recovery
- Online support groups
New studies found that participation in 12-Step programs promotes abstinence at significantly higher rates than treatment alone. Depending on your individual needs and beliefs, the support group that you join may be different than other people. However, as long as you find community, emotional support, and sobriety, it doesn’t matter which group you join.
Adhere to Your Aftercare Plan
When you are ready to leave treatment, your therapist will help you devise an aftercare treatment plan that will help you stay sober. Your aftercare plan may consist of mandatory 12-Step meetings, regular individual therapy sessions, outpatient treatment, or even living in a sober home. Leaving rehab is both exciting and scary, and you may be excited to see your friends and family. You may also look forward to getting your social life back. All of these distractions make it easy to neglect an aftercare plan. However, you should adhere to your plan at all costs. After all, this relapse prevention plan was devised specifically for you by professionals, so if you want to stay sober, you should do what is suggested of you. This ongoing care will help solidify your foundation in recovery, reinforce coping skills, and help you manage future triggers down the line.
Replace Old Habits with New Positive Ones
Recovery is more than just abstinence. It often involves completely changing your hobbies and behaviors. For instance, before getting sober, it’s likely that you spent a lot of your time getting substances, using substances, and recovering from the effects of those substances. In addition, your habits may not have been the healthiest ones. Whether your behaviors were illegal or something as minor as having an irregular sleep schedule, replacing bad habits with positive ones will help you stay sober after treatment. You’ll stop getting into trouble, stay away from things that make you want to use drugs, and become a more productive human. This will give you more self-confidence and purpose in life, further supporting your recovery. Lastly, these new positive habits can act as coping skills to help you actively manage unpleasant emotions.
Stay Away From Negative Influences
Sometimes, certain people are unhealthy to be around. Specifically, friends who abuse drugs or alcohol or family members who are enabling. These influences only hinder recovery. Instead, surround yourself with supportive people that you can trust. Your support group may consist of your peers in rehab, close family members, friends, and members of your self-help group. Having people who support you and are positive influences in your life will help you not only stay sober but ultimately reach your goals.
Eat Healthy and Get Some Exercise
Lifestyle changes that focus on promoting overall health and wellness have many benefits when it comes to people in recovery. For example, exercise is good for the mind and body. It helps increase energy levels, decrease stress, and boost healthy dopamine production. It is also used as a healthy outlet for anger, stress, or anxiety.
Furthermore, eating healthy helps regulate moods, improve depression, and improve overall wellbeing. Research has proven that a healthy diet is good for the mind – a concept called “nutritional psychiatry.” Eating well improves mental health and decreases the risk of psychiatric disorders. By making these lifestyle changes, you are allowing both your mind and body to be healthy, functional, and energized. The better you feel and the more stable your mood is, the less likely you are to use drugs or alcohol to cope.
Get Sober Today With Harmony Outpatient
Are you ready to get sober and stay sober? Our outpatient treatment programs in Delray can show you how. Call us today to speak with an addiction specialist about your treatment options.