If you or someone you love is battling addiction and trying to get sober, you have likely experienced the challenges of abstinence firsthand. You may remember those mornings where dragging yourself out of bed felt nearly impossible, or the days where seconds felt like hours and all you wanted was a drink. In hard times, you may have asked, “Is there life after addiction?” or “Will I ever be happy again?”
While getting sober carries the prospect of a fresh start, another chance, it is not easy. And rebuilding a life after addiction – then learning how to navigate that life – can be even more intimidating for those new to recovery. It requires a person to yield changes, to set goals, and to make a commitment.
Recovery happens gradually, day by day, step by step. But every moment of it is worthwhile. Life after addiction is the stage of recovery where people truly find themselves. It is the stage in which they learn how to live – eat, sleep, work, socialize, learn – without the dark cloud of addiction over their heads.
If you are working on your recovery, here are nine actions you can take to start building a life after addiction.
- Seek professional help – As much as you may want to fight this battle alone, your chances of lifelong success are much greater when you have professionals and a sober network by your side. That is where an addiction treatment program comes in. It offers you a safe space, free of drugs and alcohol, where you can focus on your recovery. In treatment, healthcare professionals will show you coping tools to ease the everyday challenges. Here, you can meet and talk with others of the same age and gender who also understand the hardships of addiction firsthand.
- Find a purpose in recovery – Enrolling in a drug rehab facility is just the first step. The real change will start to come when you open up and find meaning while you are there. After entering treatment, open yourself up to any opportunities that come your way. Take a job, volunteer, or participate in group activities to make the most of your time. Help others who you see struggling. In recovery, the more you give, the more you will get back.
- Set expectations and goals – In recovery, you will constantly be setting goals. You will also learn how to set and manage expectations. As a first step, you may consider asking your family what they expect of you, now that you are living sober. You can again be a functioning member of the family. What is your role? Once you set it, work towards achieving and maintaining it.
- Rebuild trust in damaged relationships – Drug abuse takes a toll on relationships, and your addiction likely broke the people who loved you most – close friends, a significant other, your family. You may have done things to hurt them, or failed to do things that you should have done. No matter your case, an important step in your recovery will be to find a way to mend those relationships. Show that you can be trusted. Go above and beyond to make things right.
- Find sober friends – Developing a sober network is an essential component to the recovery process. Most often, the people you meet in your drug treatment program or your 12-step meetings are the ones who will become your biggest supports. Like you, they are living proof that life after addiction is possible. If any temptations or negative situations come your way, they can help you navigate through them. Not only can they help you relearn sober social skills, but they can also offer advice, tips, and encouragement through the best and worst of days.
- Engage in new hobbies and activities – When you were using, all of your other priorities (sports, education, friends, hobbies) were put on the backburner. Drugs became your activity of choice. You spent your time seeking, obtaining, using, and recovering from the drug. But now what? What do you do now that you are sober? This is often the biggest challenge of the recovery process – occupying your time so that you do not fall back on the activity you know all too well. In the right drug treatment program, you will learn to replace your drug-using habits with healthy, engaging, and sober activities. At Turnbridge, we have team sports leagues, group outings, and other recreational programs that help our clients do just this.
- Pursue an education or a job – Those in recovery often find the most purpose in landing a job or continuing their education after rehab. Not only do they feel productive in society once again, but they find a strong sense of responsibility and independence in working towards something good. At Turnbridge, we maintain a focus on education throughout recovery so that clients can easily transition to school upon completion of our program. We also offer jobs and volunteer work to clients who are preparing for life after rehab.
- Establish a healthy lifestyle – Drugs take a major toll on the body. As part of your life after addiction, it is important to eat a healthy diet, establish normal sleep patterns, and exercise regularly. Starting this early in the recovery process will encourage stronger immunity, higher energy levels, a healthy appearance and more self-confidence in all that you do.
- Keep it up – Recovery does not end after rehab. Graduating a drug treatment program, rather, is a new beginning. It is the moment you can truly start living your life addiction-free. Maintenance is the key to doing so. After you graduate, find sober living homes in your area, move in with sober peers, and continue to work the 12-steps.
Credited To; Turnbridge