When a person is in rehab, they are entirely removed from all temptations and distractions. This kind of environment is excellent for getting sober and working through the beginning stages of recovery.
Most of the day is typically spent doing different forms of treatment and therapy, which provides lots of space for growth and healing. When you leave rehab, suddenly you are back in the real world where you are surrounded by temptations and problems that previously would have made you drink.
To transition smoothly from rehab back to everyday life, you have to learn how to manage temptation, develop a new routine, and utilize community support.
How Do You Manage Temptation and Stay Sober Outside of Rehab?
Below, we offer 7 tips to help you manage temptation and stay sober following the completion of your rehab programme:
1. Figure Out What Your Triggers Are
In order to prevent relapse, it is critical to learn what your triggers are, so then you can avoid them whenever possible and prepare for them when you can’t avoid them.
There are two main types of triggers: internal triggers and external triggers. Internal triggers are any thoughts or emotions that cause a person to want to drink.
The other kind of triggers, external triggers, are the ones that are typically easier to avoid. External triggers are any things, people, places, or situations that trigger a person to drink. External triggers can cause internal triggers.
2. Watch Out for Relapse Warning Signs
Just like you need to learn your triggers, it is important to learn the warning signs of relapse. Often people feel like relapse comes out of nowhere, but more often than not, there are signs that if you know what they are, you can know it is coming and act accordingly to prevent it.
Warning signs include things like returning to addictive thinking patterns, seeking out situations and triggers, irrational thinking, irresponsible behaviour, and compulsive or self-defeating behaviours.
When you look for and identify these warning signs, you can stop relapse before it actually happens by engaging in healthy coping mechanisms to combat the bad ones.
3. Make Your Post-Treatment Plan
Post-treatment plans are just what they sound like; they are plans that you and a team develop to help you maintain sobriety after you leave treatment. You can develop this plan soon after you leave, but generally, it is better to come up with a plan with your treatment provider before you leave.
Typically speaking, this plan includes some sort of continuing care of aftercare. Aftercare includes things like continued one-on-one counselling, support group, and continued day-visits to your rehab centre. It can also include a plan for what coping mechanisms you are going to use when facing temptations.
4. Make New Routines and Avoid Old Ones
When you leave rehab and return to normal life, it can be tempting to also return to your same routines and habits. Unfortunately, if you do that, you are much more likely to relapse than if you develop new routines.
You should change many of the places you hang out (especially places you used to drink), the things you do, and perhaps even the people you spend your time with. It is going to be really hard to stay sober if you continue doing the same things you did and spending time with the same people you did before getting sober.
5. Healthy Living Makes Sobriety Easier
Drugs and alcohol can do some serious damage to both your physical and your mental health. If you focus on repairing your physical and emotional health, your body will begin to heal, and sobriety will be easier as you will have the mental and physical strength needed to avoid temptation.
You can do things like exercise regularly, eat healthily, get on a healthy sleep schedule, practice mindfulness with things like medication, and spend time on positive hobbies. All of these things will help you become both emotionally and physically healthy.
6. Get Your Finances in Order
Chances are, your addiction left your finances in a bad state. Between having to pay for the substance you used to most likely having problems at work, addiction can really hurt your finances. When you leave rehab, it is a great time to work on getting your finances in order.
You can make a plan to pay off any debt and start saving. You should also either go back to work or find a new job. Some rehabs have resources to help you do this once you leave. Focusing on your finances also will give you something to do other than think about relapsing.
7. Watch Out For New Addictions
It is really easy to replace your old, compulsive, unhealthy habits with new, compulsive, unhealthy habits. For example, you may find that you start to use drinking, so you don’t relapse on drugs and then find that you have developed an addiction to that. Or you may use gambling or binge eating to replace your drinking habit.
You need to pay attention to these things to make sure that you do not replace your old addiction with a new addiction because they will be dangerous and harmful to you as well. If you notice yourself developing new addictions, reach out for help as soon as you can.
What Are Some Sober Activities You Can Participate In?
Alright, so if you are avoiding older activities and habits, what are some sober activities that you can participate in? Well, a sober activity is anything that you can do without being around drugs or alcohol or being tempted to get drugs or alcohol.
It is important to find sober activities you enjoy just as much, if not more, as the non-sober activities you used to do, or you will not stick to them. Sober activities include things like exercise, meditation, playing sports, reading, arts and crafts, learning at school or just one course, gardening, and volunteering.
Of course, those are just a fraction of all the options that you have.
What Is the Importance of Community Support?
If you want to stay sober, you need to have a support system in place. Your support system can be made up of friends and family that you can trust and who support your sobriety. It can also be made up of peers with similar problems as you.
You can find peer support by going to group support meetings, group therapy, or attending 12-step meetings like AA or NA. Your support system will be the people that you can go to and lean on when you feel especially tempted or are at risk of relapse.
While you have to have intrinsic motivation to stay sober, a community is helpful when you need a little extra support to stay sober.
Can You Still Go To Bars?
The answer to this really depends a lot on you as an individual. There are some people that have been sober for years that can go to bars or clubs and not drink. They may not feel the same level of temptation that they used to, and they know coping strategies to avoid drinking.
They may do things like go with a sober friend or keep a non-alcoholic beverage with them, so they are less tempted. On the other hand, for some people, especially people who are newly sober, it is better to avoid bars and other high-risk situations completely until cravings dissipate more, and they get better at using their coping strategies.
Why Is It Worth Staying Sober?
There are many benefits to getting and staying sober. There is, of course, the obvious health benefits to both your physical and mental health, but there are many other benefits to staying sober that one might not originally think of.
These reasons include, but are not limited to:
- New, sober friends
- Increased mental clarity
- Both looking and feeling better
- Saving money
- Helping others who are struggling with addiction
What is PAWS?
PAWS stands for post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It is a variety of different symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and depression that can continue on for six months to two years after you are done using whatever substance.
If you are not careful, PAWS can become a barrier to sobriety if you are not prepared to recognize them for what they are and cope with them in a healthy way. The team of people at your rehab centre should be able to teach you everything you need to know about PAWS and help you learn how to cope with the symptoms.
Should You Go To Recovery Housing?
When you leave rehab, one option you have is to go to recovery housing. Recovery housing is a more long-term facility that you can stay at. Everyone living in the recovery housing will be committed to staying sober, and you will most likely still have access to things like group therapy through the housing.
This can be a great middle-ground for people as it allows them to go back to work and return to some normal life without dealing with the same level of temptation they would at home. If you are concerned about relapse, recovery housing could be a great option for you.
Keith stopped using drugs and drinking alcohol more than 10 years ago. He now spends a lot of time writing and editing content for this website. His mission is to assist people who are also looking to embrace addiction recovery. Keith believes a key way to accomplish this goal is through his writing.