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How Do I Stay Sober After Rehab?

Getting sober is an incredible accomplishment worth celebrating, but staying clean is another challenge in itself. Some ways to stay sober after treatment are to set goals and create new hobbies.

Transitioning From Rehab To Normal Life

woman hikingRehab is a supported living environment – one that promotes comfort and safety, making it easier for someone struggling with addiction to stay sober.

It provides a solid foundation of security, as well as the tools needed to heal and cope even after leaving the facility.

Moving on from rehab can be a very exciting time, but it may also bring up new challenges when learning how to navigate a brand new, sober lifestyle.

Fortunately, by recognizing temptations you may face after you leave the rehab facility, you can learn how to avoid or manage these triggers. This makes it easier to stay sober in the future.

How To Avoid or Manage Common Temptations After Rehab

The move from a supported environment back to normal living can be a tough transition.

Upon leaving rehab, you may find yourself put in trigger situations, or situations that spark the thought of reverting back to old habits. Things like returning to your old neighborhood, seeing old friends or family members, and even certain emotions may tempt you to go back to using or drinking. 

There are a few things you can do to avoid or manage these temptations in your daily life after rehab, such as:

  •  Find a solid support system. Surround yourself with sober people, as well as people who have your best interests at heart and want to help you be successful. Find a support group in your area, or even someone you can call when you feel tempted.
  •  Modify your environment. Before returning home from rehab, ask a loved one or someone you trust to remove any paraphernalia from your house. Try to avoid places that spark feelings of interest toward using.
  •  Set goals for the future. When you set goals for the future, it will be much easier to manage your temptations when they arise. When you have a sense of why you want to stay sober and all the benefits it will bring to your life, it will be much easier to stay on track.
  •  Keep your follow-up appointments. If you’ve scheduled follow-up appointments with your rehabilitation center or a doctor, stick to these appointments. You may feel tempted to skip them, or think that  you can handle it on your own, but it’s much easier to avoid or manage temptations when you are receiving support from health professionals.
  •  Find a moment each day to be thankful. When we have a strong appreciation for the life we’ve been given, it’s easier to recognize how much we have to be thankful for. Consider starting a gratitude journal and writing down five things each day that make you feel fulfilled and happy.
  •  Create new, healthy habits to replace the old ones. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology shows that it takes more than two months before a new habit becomes automatic, so find a new, positive habit you enjoy doing and stick with it.

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Participate in Sober Activities Instead Of Using Drugs or Alcohol

Replacing old habits with positive, new habits is critical during your recovery. Sober activities don’t have to be boring — there’s still plenty of fun to be had without drugs or alcohol.

Here are a few examples of healthy ways to keep your mind occupied during your transition from rehab:

  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Play sports
  • Read
  • Visit an arts and crafts shop
  • Go back to school or start an online course
  • Learn a new language
  • Plant a garden
  • Volunteer

Find Outlets that Provide Community and Support

No matter where you live, there are positive outlets that provide community and support during your life after rehab. Surround yourself with encouraging individuals by joining a support group, attending counseling sessions and participating in meet-up activities.

You can also participate in many types of continuing care, including individual therapy, check-ups, 12-step meetings and alternative support groups.

Going to Parties or Bars Without Drinking or Using: Is It Possible?

sober party
For some, it’s best to completely avoid tempting situations, as people in early recovery are often more vulnerable than people who have been sober for several years. As a newcomer, you may not have replaced your old habits yet, making it that much more difficult to resist temptation.

“I stay away from old places and things. [It] took time to build the trust back with my family. But I don’t blame them. I did a lot of harm. My life is so different then how I used to live. I love myself today.”

Jennifer*, recovering addict

However, if you’re placed in a situation where encountering some type of drinking is inevitable (like a family holiday party), there are a few steps you can take to make the situation as easy as possible.

How to avoid temptation in social settings:

  • Surround yourself with people you trust and go with a sober friend.
  • Keep a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand to keep your senses occupied.
  • Keep your time at the party to a minimum – arrive late or leave early.
  • Leave immediately if you start to feel uncomfortable or tempted.

The Benefits of a Sober Life: Why It’s Worth Getting (and Staying) Sober

Staying sober allows you to reap many health benefits – from improved liver and heart function to enhanced performance in daily activities to better quality sleep. However, embarking on a sober life is worth it for reasons beyond the physical benefits. Other reasons to stay sober include:

  •   Making new, sober friends
  •   Saving money
  •   Enhanced mental clarity and excitement for life
  •   More energy to do things you enjoy
  •   Looking and feeling better
  •   Becoming a source of hope for others who are struggling with addiction

Recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. It won’t be a quick and seamless process: it’s a lifelong commitment. By making an effort to stay sober, you’ll acquire a newfound strength from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t.

Every journey starts with a small step in the right direction. When you’re feeling tempted to slip back into old habits, remember why you wanted to get sober in the first place.

If you’re wondering if you should go back to rehab or need help staying on a sober path after rehab, please contact us now for help.

*Some names have been changed.

Sources & Author Last Edited: February 2, 2016

  1. Livestrong. (2013). What Are the Benefits of Staying Sober? Retrieved on January 22, 2016 from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/123504-benefits-staying-sober/
  2. European Journal Of Social Psychology. (2009). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Retrieved on January 22, 2016 from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejsp.674/abstract
About the Writer, Kayla Smith

Kayla Smith is the editorial director for Addiction Center. After working for years as a journalist, she joined the Addiction Center team in hopes of spreading awareness about addiction and mental health issues and helping people get treatment.

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