Now What? Navigating the First Few Weeks Out of Rehab— the Five Resources You Need

If you are transitioning out of rehab, you may be fraught with anxiety. Now that you’re clean, you’re stronger and better equipped to manage life’s challenges. But no matter how solid your commitment to sobriety might be it, it will undoubtedly be tested as you return to “real life.” For many, the world they left behind to seek treatment is filled with the very pressures that fed their addiction in the first place. And if there’s anything you’ve learned in rehab, it’s that addiction is about far more than willpower alone.

The choices you make in the tender, pivotal weeks after rehab are crucial, often determining the success—or failure—of your recovery. Preparation is vital; awareness and steadfastness are key. Here’s what to expect—and the five resources you’ll need:

Social Support

Your first inclination may be to isolate yourself—a common feeling that’s borne out of shame in disclosing your addiction, fear of facing those you’ve harmed, or distress in navigating social situations sober. However, it’s critical that you aim for the opposite. Surrounding yourself with people who will support your sobriety and offer encouragement is crucial to lasting recovery. For many, such social support is found in 12-step and Refuge Recovery meetings, which provide compassion and connection in a nonjudgmental setting.

Structure

Treatment centers offer immediate and constant support, protection from temptation, and the comfort of structure. On the other hand, idle time often leads to an idle mind, which generates depression, anxiety, and boredom—all triggers to pick up where you left off. Creating a home routine that keeps you occupied and fulfilled will reduce the urge to use while also deepening your sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

Sound Nutrition

Substance abuse doesn’t just wreak havoc on your relationships and self-esteem: it takes a serious toll on your physical well-being, leaving many malnourished. Nutrition plays an enormous role in recovery, repairing damaged organs and tissues while stabilizing brain chemistry. Commit to a diet that’s protein-rich and packed with antioxidants, monitor your sugar intake, and be judicious with caffeine—it can create mood swings that may serve as a catalyst for relapse.

Self-Care

Self-care is often neglected—if not abandoned entirely—when you’re in the throes of addiction. Sufficient sleep, proper nutrition, regular exercise, even personal grooming are often less important than the next fix. Enduring recovery and restored self-confidence rely on self-care. Consider these basics the primary components of your daily routine.

Coping Strategies

One of the biggest obstacles people encounter in recovery is coping with stress without turning to alcohol or drugs for relief. Nurturing the coping skills you were taught in rehab will dramatically impact your recovery. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk when angry, reaching out to a loved one when lonely, or delegating when overburdened, discover what works for you and nourish it. It may seem difficult to believe, but something as simple as taking a hot bath when anxious may be the small grace that saves you from a relapse—and perhaps your life.