10 Things to Do After Rehab – Living Life in Early Recovery
If you’ve recently completed a residential rehab programme, congratulations – it’s a brilliant achievement. Asking for addiction help and achieving sobriety are huge steps that take courage and commitment. But what happens after rehab? How do you prepare for and live your life in early recovery?
In this post, we’ll give you our top 10 suggestions for life after rehab. We’ll explain how to put your addiction recovery first, strengthen your health and well-being, pace yourself and prevent relapse.
1. The Day You Leave Rehab – Prepare and Share
Towards the end of your time in residential rehab, you’ll discuss and make plans for leaving the treatment centre. Your focal counsellor and the wider treatment team will guide you on the considerations for the day you leave.
You’ll get clear on where you are going when you leave, how you’re travelling to your destination and whether you need support in place for the journey. Is a relative or friend coming to collect you? Is there anything you need to make the trip more comfortable? If it’s a long journey, do you know where you’re taking breaks along the way?
Most importantly, as you’re approaching the date you leave rehab, speak about how you’re feeling about returning to the community. Group therapy and 1-2-1 sessions are the best place to voice any concerns you have about going home. Talk about anything that’s on your mind – no matter how big or small it seems. Most people experience some anticipation or concerns about leaving rehab – it’s normal to be a bit nervous about this important stage.
In a few cases, people choose to extend their time in rehab or go on to another addiction recovery facility. You’ll be able to discuss and plan this during your time in rehab – so you’ll know exactly what’s happening when you’re due to leave.
2: The First Day and Night at Home after Rehab – Keep it Simple
After spending weeks or months in rehab, getting home or to the place you’re staying can bring up mixed emotions. You might feel excited to spend time with your family and sleep in your own bed again. Or you might be worried about going back to an empty flat.
Perhaps you share a house with friends or relatives who don’t understand your addiction – or they’re addicted themselves.
Whatever your circumstances, there’s time to prepare whilst in residential rehab. You can identify the pros and cons of where you’re living and develop strategies to deal with anything risky or challenging at home. Whilst you can’t predict everything that’s going to happen when you leave rehab, talking through how you’ll deal with likely situations builds your coping strategies. This includes knowing what to do if you experience cravings to use or act out in your addiction. Most recovering addicts get some cravings to use in early recovery – in rehab, you’ll learn how to spot what’s happening and get help quickly.
Our main suggestion is not to take too much on immediately after leaving rehab. Remember that you’ve just been through an intensive rehabilitation programme for a serious illness. You haven’t been on holiday. You don’t need to tell people everything (or anything at all) about rehab. Take things at your pace.
So, you might prefer to go home and take things easy after rehab, rather than making plans to go out with friends. Or if you don’t want to be at home alone on your first night, you can ask a good friend to come over. Even better, go to a local addiction recovery meeting and talk about how you’re feeling.
If you have trouble sleeping on your first night home, try to use some of the relaxation techniques you’ve learned in rehab such as meditation or deep breathing. It may take a few days to settle back in at home – that’s completely normal to need time to adjust.
3. Go to Local Addiction Recovery Groups – the Best Free Support
There are thousands of 12-step recovery groups across the country – as well as in most countries worldwide. Search online for the Anonymous fellowship of your choice and find a list of local meetings.
There are also alternative addiction support groups in many towns in the UK including SMART Recovery groups – though these are fewer in number. For people who live in remote areas, there are telephone and online recovery meetings that you can join – get in touch with the organisation via their website for details.
Why are addiction recovery groups a good idea? Recovery from addiction is a process not an event. Rehab gives you the best possible start – allowing you to detox safely and learn vital recovery skills with the help of experts. However, most people find that with every new situation in recovery, there can be challenges and strong emotions to manage. By attending local support groups regularly, you’ll benefit from the ideas and knowledge within the recovery community.
4. Attend Free Aftercare Sessions – Structure and Continuity After Rehab
Good rehabs including all UKAT facilities offer free aftercare sessions to clients who complete their programme. Whilst in rehab, you’ll be informed about when these groups run. Typically, they are weekly groups that operate at a time when most people can attend easily – such as evenings.
Aftercare is really useful for managing the transition period between leaving rehab and resuming your life in the outside world. You can discuss all aspects of living life in early recovery – as you take up activities and face new challenges.
5. Continue Learning about Recovery – Growth and Resilience
There are many ways to continue developing your addiction recovery skills. It’s a good idea to have a range of approaches – including regular face-to-face contact with recovering peers. The most tried and tested methods include:
Participating in addiction recovery meetings – listening and sharing in group sessions, reading the literature and books on offer, taking up positions within the group to help run meetings.
Going through an addiction recovery programme – for example, the 12-step programme or the SMART Recovery programme. You’ll work with a mentor or sponsor who will guide you through the process.
Exchanging phone numbers with addicts in recovery – ideally people who are practising a recovery programme themselves, who you can call to talk through issues.
Building a relationship with your GP – it’s a good idea to check in with GP in early recovery and let them know how you’re progressing. They’ll also need to know if you’re recovering from substance addiction – because this is an important consideration if you need prescribed medication in future.
Taking up outpatient addiction counselling – you can ask at your rehab about where to find addiction counsellors who work in the community. This is particularly helpful if there are things you aren’t comfortable to talk about with peers – including childhood trauma or abuse.
Mentor or sponsor other people who want to recover from addiction – once you’ve established your own recovery, you can begin working with other people in their recovery process. Mostly, this takes place in free addiction support groups – but recovering addicts find other ways of passing on their skills, including by volunteering at rehabs.
Joining recovery communities online – there are countless websites, apps, social media groups and recovery resources available for people online. If you don’t like one, try another. Find communities that inspire you to develop your recovery.
Secondary care or other residential programmes – occasionally after rehab, people find they are still struggling to maintain their recovery. If this is the case for you, then there are many options for ongoing, structured support including secondary care facilities.
6. Boundaries with Family and Friends – Stick to Your Recovery Plan
Your recovery from addiction may be great news for some people in your life – but others may react strangely or even in hostile ways. For example, your mum might be delighted you’ve given up alcohol – but your best friend has stopped inviting you out or calling round.
In recovery from addiction, you may face choices about what matters most to you. Is your recovery more important than keeping other people happy? The best advice we can give you is to take things day by day and put your recovery plan first. Other people don’t have to get what you’re doing. You know why recovery is essential for you. Stick to the plan and you’ll reap the rewards – including vastly improved relationships with family and friends.
7. For People Returning to Work or Education – Know Your Allies
Depending on your circumstances, you might go straight back to work or education after rehab or you might take time out. Sometimes people have a phased return to their job role – such as starting out part-time then increasing hours gradually. For others, a job or course is a definite advantage in early recovery – it gives structure and purpose to the day.
Whatever you decide, it’s really important to know who you can talk to at your work place or educational establishment. In larger firms, there’s usually an HR or occupational health department. In smaller companies, you may need to talk to your line manager, the managing director or CEO. If you run your own business, then it’s up to you to decide – so you may need to speak to other business owners in recovery for guidance. In all cases, talk about what your plans are whilst you’re still in rehab.
Our main suggestion is this – whatever you decide about returning to work or education, know that you can change your mind it if it feels too much. So if you go back to work full-time straight away and the pressure is too much, consider temporarily reducing your hours and getting extra recovery support. If your college or university course feels overwhelming, ask for extra time to complete assignments, take up counselling or defer for a year.
8. Holidays – Is it Too Soon to Go Away?
Taking a holiday in early recovery can be a life-affirming and refreshing experience – if you’re going for the right reasons and you have good support in place. So it’s not so much about when you take a holiday – it’s about why you’re going, who with and whether there’s local recovery support available.
Before booking a holiday, we’d suggest talking through your plans with recovery peers. This will help you identify the pros and cons of going away – and whether there’s a better destination or plan for your break.
9. Relationships – Make-ups or Break Ups
When it comes to relationships, early recovery is often a time people want to start, revive or end relationships. This is because the feelings that were numbed by addiction come to the surface – and often, they can feel very impulsive.
Unless there’s a really pressing reason to end a relationship – such as emotional or physical abuse, criminal behaviour or an addicted partner who is threatening your recovery – then it’s a good idea to give yourself time in recovery before making big decisions. Do get support from peers or an addiction counsellor with conflict in relationships – don’t suffer in silence.
In terms of starting a new relationship or getting back together with someone, many addiction professionals advise to take new relationships slowly in early recovery. This is because the start of recovery is about embedding all the things you need to do for yourself to stay well. However, there’s really no right or wrong – so if you do get into a relationship in early recovery, make sure you’re talking about it with trusted people and you’re still attending to your needs.
10. What Next in Life? – One Thing at A Time
After rehab, people often feel a new lease of life. They’re keen to get on with all the things that addiction prevented them doing. They want to make decisions and move forward with new determination.
Recovery from addiction is inspiring – so you may get lots of creative ideas in early recovery about what you want to do next in life. Ideally, work an addiction recovery programme first. Keep note of all the things that you feel inspired to do.
Then you can choose one thing at a time to add into your life. By not overwhelming yourself with too much to do, you’re more likely to enjoy and achieve your goals. This includes for high achievers and high earners – give yourself time to grow in early recovery.
At UKAT, we offer residential rehab programmes and secondary care to clients nationwide. Our service is confidential. Our rehabs are monitored by the Care Quality Commission. Please call for an addiction assessment today.
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09 Aug 2020
I dont have enough words to describe my gratitude towards all the support staff, therapists & management. The programme content was incredibly insightful & I now have an arsenal of tools to combat my illness head on. I would recommend this place to anyone, and I intend to. It’s changed my life.
08 Aug 2020
Came into the centre in a real mess and desperate, the staff were very sympathetic with no judgement just genuine care. I now leave for the next step of recovery feeling human and optimistic Thank you to all the staff
08 Aug 2020
My time at Liberty House Clinic has been fantastic overall and an amazing experience with some obvious difficulties in the process. Everything was explained to me well and the groups were extremely helpful. The staff were great and there was always someone to talk to if I needed. The days were busy with therapy and other things and which i enjoyed a lot. I do believe to get the most out of the beginning of your recovery here you must push yourself and attend as many groups as possible. I am not fixed but have learnt so much and my mental health has greatly improved. Thank you Liberty House and its staff!
07 Aug 2020
Very good treatment centre. Helpful and food was lovely
07 Aug 2020
Treament went well,staff good
07 Aug 2020
The stay at Oasis bradford went really well, staff looked after you, would recommend
06 Aug 2020
My stay at Liberty house was made very comfortable by all the staff and although I’ve never had therapy before I thought that the therapists were brilliant as were all the support staff. It has been a very relaxed and positive stay and my peers have been very nice and friendly. I’ve also made a couple of really good friends that I believe will be friends for life.
06 Aug 2020
I arrived at the recovery lighthouse very low in mood and feeling very ill. I was made to feel welcome as soon as I arrived, treated with respect and empathy. I was introduced to the other peers who were also welcoming and non judgemental. I was shown into a relaxing bedroom and given time to settle in. I gained knowledge and confidence from both the varied workshops and having time to chat in groups with my peers as well as a great deal of laughter. Mealtimes were social occasions, the food was nutritious and varied. Zoom meetings were also a group activity and gave me the confidence to open up to the group. Wonderful walks to the beach and park, where somtimes we would meditate…so relaxing, and sometimes we were able to buy an ice cream!!!!! I left feeling refreshed, growing in confidence and with a positive attitude to face my future and the world without the need for alcohol. A brighter happier future. Thank you to all who helped me on the start of my road to recovery.
06 Aug 2020
It is an amazing experience and would highly recommend it to anyone who has or is in my position
06 Aug 2020
In a very stressful and worrying time in my life with alcoholism it was very helpful that there was some where as professional as Oasis Bradford where there in my time of need.
06 Aug 2020
Very helpful and supportive team. I truly feel blessed to have chosen The Lighthouse (Worthing) to begin my journey on the path to sobriety…..
06 Aug 2020
On the whole very good centre. Excellent staff. good therapy. Meals much better than expected and flexible for peoples dietary requirements. Leaving after 4 weeks clean and sober but feeling confident that the next step of the journey is some.thing I have been well equipped for now. Still much work to be done and they offer continued support. Staff here are excellent. highly recommend this centre.
06 Aug 2020
I came here new to everything and I found everything strange, however I found the meditation and gong bath very helpful, I think the staff have been brilliant and very efficient, it took me a few days to get in to the process of things but I got the hang of it. I think it is beneficial that people working here are in recovery themselves to give deeper knowledge and empathy to all of us in here.
06 Aug 2020
06 Aug 2020
Sanctuary Lodge is the second rehab facility I’ve been too. It has completely changed my perspective on my illness and how I can move forward living with addiction. I have been converted to understanding the benefits of the 12 step fellowship programmes. The facilities are excellent with amazingly caring and patient staff. My individual therapist has been fantastic and I would recommend making the most of just grabbing them for 10 minutes outside of your scheduled 1 on 1 sessions. You really get out of the treatment what you put in. I gave it my all and believe that’s helped me get to the place I’m at. Would highly recommend this centre to anyone struggling with addiction.
06 Aug 2020
This is my third time at the Lighthouse Recovery due to relapsing mainly because i did not folllow the simple instructions nor get involved 100% with the AA fellowship. This time round I am aware of the need for me to put those foundations in place. The staff at the lighthouse are amazing and have had a big part to play during this recovery experience. The lighthouse is truly life-changing and i could not recommend it highly enough. It has also been amazing to meet wonderful people that will now become friends for life. Thank you
05 Aug 2020
The treat,met was exactly what I expected. Was hesitant at first. But the staff calmed me down and it all went smoothly from there. I feel like my 9 lives had ran out and this place has granted me a tenth. I hope to co,e back as a volunteer one day or work.
05 Aug 2020
I cannot thank the staff enough for all the help and support I have recieved during my stay. The staff are all friendly and very nice. Special mention for the chef. The food was exceptional. Thank you all.
05 Aug 2020
was in a really dark place before i entered recovery lighthouse. I have had a total change in myself and my view on life and cant thank the staff enough for all there help and advice on how to deal with all aspects of my life, would highly recommend the lighthouse house to anyone that has reached rock bottom due to alcohol and drugs,
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