Success! You Completed Addiction Treatment – Now What Happens After Rehab?
It’s over. You made it through detox or a full treatment program for addiction. And you attained your overarching goal! You’re walking through the exit of the facility to re-enter the world at large. Moving from the confines of a protected space can be daunting for a newly sober person. Gone is the intensive structure and layers of support. What do you do now? What happens after rehab?
As you invariably have heard, treatment for substance use disorder is never completely over. Think of recovery as an ongoing process. Much to your credit, you have reached several milestones on this continuum. You achieved freedom from abusing substances. You are about to venture out on your own. You’re in control and you’re in charge. But that also means it’s up to you alone to maintain your status and access the tools you need.
What’s the best way to proceed? Employ this method: start right away, right after rehab. You can modify your plans as needed. The idea is to swing into action. That, in itself, creates comfort.
Follow Up with Aftercare
Building a bridge to life after rehab most often begins before a client finishes a program. Facilities typically offer aftercare planning as participants near discharge. If this applied to you, by all means, use it. If you chose not to go this route, please reconsider. Take a slight detour and ask if you still may obtain this personal map for the future. And if this aspect of preparing for discharge did not occur, put a system in place for yourself.
What exactly is aftercare? 12-step meetings is the backbone of a good aftercare plan, such as those run by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These interactive sessions are held in many locations at many times throughout the day and evening. During the pandemic, AA and NA started to host meetings on Zoom, which may continue after the crisis. Search for a meeting(s), attend as often as you wish, bond with members and find a sponsor. These touchpoints are vital links in developing a support network with those who have similar experiences.
See if Your Rehab Facility has an Alumni Program
The same applies to your treatment center’s alumni program. Take part in its offerings. These can range from hosted events at the facility on a regular or occasional basis to exclusive online content. Phone contact and online meetings may be others. These activities keep you in the loop; they also generate camaraderie and opportunities to mingle with practitioners and others who went through the program and likely have histories and perspectives in common. You may even have fun.
Consider counseling as part of your aftercare plan. There are many ways to do this and formats, such as individual therapy as well as group sessions. It all depends on your needs and preferences. You could work with a skilled practitioner on an outpatient basis weekly or more frequently. More robust options include intensive outpatient program or partial hospitalization. You could start one way and switch. Counseling provides another channel, which assists in smoothing the way and avoiding a relapse.
Pursue Hobbies and Other Outlets
Now that you’re not using, how do you spend your free time? Pass it wisely and fruitfully. Perhaps you had a hobby you enjoyed. Consider going back to it. How about activities you pondered but didn’t get around to do? Now is the time. Then there’s the universe of new things to do. The possibilities are vast and exhilarating. Why? Hobbies lower our stress levels, provide boosts to our health, and teach us about who we are, the people in our lives, and the world around us.
Hobbies to Pursue After Rehab:
- Get Active. The point here is to move. Put on your sneakers and sweats, open the door and walk. Or pick up the pace and jog or run as well as hike, bike, skate or skateboard. Alternatively, exercise at home in your living space. Find online videos for aerobic workouts, strength and balance, yoga and dance. Interested in joining a gym or fitness program? Go for it. Challenge yourself – it’s healthy and invigorating.
- Get Creative. Do you have artistic skills or interests? Explore that potential. Draw, sketch, paint or sculpt. Try handicrafts, such as sewing, knitting and scrapbooking. If your medium is words, journal, write poetry, blog or play word games as well as other kind of games. More… experiment with cooking or baking, convene with nature to garden inside and outside, put your energies into photography.
- Get Smart(er). Expand your mind, viewpoints and outlook. The time is always right to acquire knowledge. Take informal courses for enrichment or toward college credit. Attend programs sponsored by libraries, community groups or civic or fraternal organizations. Learn about a subject or skill via YouTube and other means. Tackle a new language. Join a book club. Listen to podcasts. Watch documentaries.
- Get Generous. Volunteer your time and talents. Helping and giving to others is fulfilling. It provides benefits to all involved. It’s also a way of making social and business connections in the process. So many organizations need assistance – community, civic, educational and religious. Inquire, explore and sign up to do things that interest you and that align with your schedule and strengths. You’ll be glad you did and so will others.
Life After Rehab
While there are many hobbies and activities you can partake in after rehab, the important thing is to take the first steps. It can be easy to become discouraged. After all, recovery is a journey. There is no single roadmap; no one-size-fits-all recovery. Taking the initiative and forging your own path after recovery is the best way to achieve long-term sobriety.
By Sherry Adler, a freelance writer based in the Greater New York City area