10 Tips for Coping After Rehab
Life After Drug Rehabilitation
Anyone going through a drug rehabilitation program should be personally invested in the process. If they are just doing it “because their family wants them to” or something of the sort, their chances of success are slimmer. If they are not honest about it and are just going through the motions, if they are just looking busy and not really doing the program, they will not get all the attainable results. There is also the situation of it not being the right program for the individual, which is where holistic rehabilitation comes in.
But providing that we have a good result after rehab – the individual has cleaned up and feels ready to get on with life – we still have post-rehab existence staring us straight in the face. Even when rehab was a howling success, facing life afterward can be utterly terrifying. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that anyone who has kicked drugs has probably quit and relapsed several times in the past. They’ve been around the block more than a few times. Coping with life after rehab can be just as daunting as any step of rehab itself if not far more difficult. Here are ten points to heed based on decades of experience:
Friends, Family, Support Network
The value of a strong support network cannot be overstated. These are your trusted family and friends and should also include members of the rehab facility’s aftercare section. Regular communication is essential, especially in the first couple of months. But factually, the support never really ends. The rehab graduate should be able to discuss what they are running into and what kind of environmental pressures they may be experiencing. After talking with a member of the support network, something that had “no solution” will often practically solve itself. Communication is fundamental.
Focus, Self-Discipline, Interests, Pursuits
When one has hobbies, interests, pursuits, goals and ambitions, one does better at focusing his or her attention. There is something on which to focus and a reason to employ self-discipline. It’s like a river. Without any channel, there is no flow. There is “dispersal” instead of direction. When the water is channeled, it reaches its destination, the ocean. When someone is focused on a destination that they are personally interested and invested in, they will – to greater or lesser degree – hold the channels in place. Focusing one’s efforts and having the willpower to work toward goal attainment is significant to post-rehab life.
Art is a powerful therapy. Many people recovering from substance abuse find solace in creativity – others’ creativity and their own. Learning an instrument, painting, writing, photography, and any other creative field are all excellent ways to channel emotions and communicate. Coping with life can be put into startling, compelling and beautiful perspective through the arts.
Hard Work, Honesty
One’s value to society is most commonly measured by the work you perform. One should be able to perform an honest day’s work and be squarely compensated for it. When a person holds a job, they get a sense of their inherent value to society. Even when one feels they are in a “dead end job,” at least they’re working. People who cannot work have a much bigger problem. You can always look for a new job, seek advancement, start your own business – the field is wide open. The stability of holding a job should not be underestimated. It is often the bedrock upon which one builds the rest of his or her life.
It’s not enough to have a destination. Without a road map, you’ll never arrive. Formulating a plan is a major component to building a post-rehab life. Plans can go from very broad, like “go back to school” to encompassing the next month, all the way down to what you’ll do in the next hour. Plans are very useful for focusing and channeling one’s efforts as noted above. One must also have the ability to adjust the plan as needed.
Dealing With Cravings
Cravings can and do happen. How these are dealt with is crucial and must be part of the personalized aftercare strategy worked out before completing rehab. Each person’s strategy is different. It could be as simple as going outside and taking a walk, calling a trusted friend, reading a message one wrote for oneself, or playing a video one made earlier for just this occasion, or any number of other approaches. It must be something effective a person can do immediately without hesitation in the advent of cravings.
“Remain positive” is not just a catch phrase with no practical application in the real world. Just living life and trying to get ahead can get you down. It’s not necessarily easy. Falling into despair doesn’t solve the situation, nor does drug abuse and numbing one’s feeling with chemicals. Maintaining positivity is an animated, alive, tangible, very real and continuous action undertaken to conquer life and all its annoyances, setbacks, heartbreaks, barriers and oppositions. It means not getting too “serious”. It means maintaining one’s sense of humor. And it is done each morning and with each passing moment. You fall down, but you get up, right?
You see a medical doctor and complain of something and they’ll probably prescribe a drug or medicine of some sort. Nothing against doctors – we need them – but they tend to treat the SYMPTOM rather than the CAUSE. Simply eating right, exercising, doing some sports, and taking a few supplements can go long way toward re-building and maintaining general health. Seeing a competent nutritionist, for example, can prove very enlightening and open the door to renewed vigor. All these elements help you cope with life. If your body is ill, fatigued, tired, etc. it doesn’t help you reach your goals. Paying due attention to your body (without worshiping it) is integral to a post-rehab strategy.
Hanging out with your old hard-drinking, drug-using buddies isn’t very conducive to staying clean and sober. If they encourage you to use again, you should ask yourself what kind of “friends” they are. Perhaps they need help too, but testing your limits is not the wisest choice. You don’t have to lean over the edge to know it’s there and that it’s a long way down, especially if you’ve fallen over it before. So maintaining a positive environment, one populated by positive people, is vital.
Doing Your Part
Another expression that is far more than a catch phrase is “giving back”. It means reaching out and helping others. Recovering addicts in rehab help other addicts as a matter of course. Factually, it is an important part of recovery, and there is no reason to stop post-rehab. Helping others, whether it’s other addicts looking to get cleaned up, tutoring kids in an after-school program, volunteering at your church, or just being a good friend, all add up to giving back in its many forms. It puts things in perspective. You just feel better. Who knows, you just may find a new calling.