For many addicts, the hardest part of recovery doesn’t take place within the walls of treatment centers – it occurs when they have to reenter society and go back to living their daily lives. Once they overcome withdrawal and get used to the routine during rehab, many addicts find peace and comfort among a community of doctors, therapists and other recovering addicts. However, it’s a whole different ballgame when they are on their own and thrown back into a life of old triggers, stressors and friends who drink and/or do drugs.
It’s no surprise, then, that a recent study in the research journal Addiction found that the rate of suicide and death is 10 times higher for drug users who had been out of a hospital or rehab facility for less than a month than those who had been out for a year or more. These numbers are both startling and sad.
There’s no doubt that acclimating to daily routines and life can be a terrifying prospect for an addict who might not know how to function on a daily basis. But millions of people have done it successfully, hitting bumps in the road along the way, but ultimately succeeding in create happy, fulfilling lives for themselves. Below are some tips on how you can make the process a little easier for yourself or a loved one.
- Use your local resources. Just because you are out of rehab doesn’t mean you are on your own. Find support groups in your area, like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or various other organizations, to maintain the community and accountability you had at a treatment facility. Meeting other addicts going through recovery and living on their own will help you through your own recovery, and most will be more than happy to “show you the ropes.”
- Attend regular therapy sessions. Half of the battle of fighting an addiction is getting to the root causes for substance abuse through therapy. Maintaining a relationship with a therapist will help you work through these issues and keep you on a steady path.
- Take care of yourself first. One of the more difficult things for a recovering addict to do is sever ties with old friends with whom they used to party. Many people feel guilty. Don’t. Leave negative influences in the past and do not let anyone coerce you into doing things that could result in relapse. You’ve worked hard for sobriety and your true friends will understand and support that.
- Ask for help when you need it. Your family and friends are proud of you for taking the steps to make positive changes in your life and understand how very difficult the process is for you. They will be eager to support you and help keep you sober. If you need help with anything from finding a new place to live to attending a support group meeting to being sober with you at a party or event, ask! Chances are, they will be grateful you did.
- Keep moving forward. You likely will have memories of bridges burned, friendships lost and selfish behavior that occurred when you were in the throes of addiction. Make amends for these as much as possible, but do not dwell on them. Use them as lessons as to how you would like to live your life and move forward in your recovery. Everyone makes mistakes and the important thing is that you now have the tools and knowledge to empower you not to make those mistakes again.