When a recovering addict walks out the door of a rehab facility, they are stepping into unfamiliar territory. They are faced with the task of relearning how to navigate life without using drugs and/or alcohol. For many people, that’s a scary proposition. The substance abuse had most likely become a crutch they could depend on when life didn’t make sense. Now, they have to find better ways to cope with everyday life.

The Early Days

The early days outside of rehab are very important. The individual wants to get off to a good start. If they learned their lessons well in counseling, they know they have to avoid familiar faces from their former drug life. That would include enablers, fellow users and drug dealers. That doesn’t leave much room to maneuver around in the old neighborhood.

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With that said, there is an alternative to returning home right away. Most reputable treatment centers can provide access to a sober living or transitional living option. In that type of an environment, recovering addicts get the opportunity to slowly integrate themselves back into normal society. They will usually work with house counselors to determine when and how they begin taking on normal responsibilities. This is a wonderful option because they can avoid stress, which is generally considered a universal trigger for addicts. When the time is right, the sober living resident can resume normal activities like paying bills, working, raising the kids and/or going back to school.

While addressing aftercare options, it’s always a good idea for a recovering addict to remain diligent about their addiction. It’s quite possible that some additional outpatient counseling will help strengthen one’s resolve. 12-Step meetings are another great aftercare option. There’s nothing quite like getting help and comfort from someone who has actually walked in the same shoes.

In summary, it’s important for the recovering addict to surround themselves with resources to help them stay clean in the early days of freedom from treatment.

Staying Sober

The work one does in treatment is difficult. From detox all the way through therapy and counseling, the patient is asked to submit to strict rules under impossible circumstances. To do this, they must stay focused at all times. During detox, the patient usually has to deal with some rather harsh withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be painful and trying. Fortunately, a medically-monitored detox process can help mitigate the effects of withdrawal.

After detox, the patient has to get real. In order to get what they need from treatment, the patient has to be open and honest with their counselors. Anything less will cause something to get missed, which usually translates to a relapse.

After learning the truth about their addiction, the patient then has to work hard to develop a better set of coping skills. These skills are the weapons they are going to use against temptation and their triggers.

All of this hard work is what the recovering addict has to protect after treatment. Otherwise, it might not amount to anything more than a waste of time and money.

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The Most Important Rule – Avoid Temptation

Addiction treatment centers are filled with folks who thought they could put themselves in familiar situations and not get sucked into old habits. Why would anyone want to test themselves? Recovery is not about ego. It’s about getting clean and staying clean. Putting oneself in direct contact with the people, places and things that led them to abuses substances in the first place is a formula for failure. First and foremost, the recovering addict has to go out of their way to avoid temptations.

The Second Most Important Rule – Learn to Recognize Triggers

Triggers are a different animal than temptations. Temptations are external forces that could cause a person to relapse. Triggers are emotions that lie within the recovering addict’s soul. They too can cause a relapse.

The stress one feels due to mounting problems would certainly be considered a trigger. Arguments with loved ones are also a primary source of triggers. Unfortunately, some people just know how to press a certain person’s buttons that shouldn’t be pressed. As strange as it may seem, sights, sounds and smells can also serve as triggers. The psychosis one carries that prompts them to abuses a substance could also be considered a trigger.

All of these issues are things the recovering addict needs to be aware of at all times. When something seems to be falling out of order, that’s the time they need to draw on their newfound coping skills.

Above all, coping with life on life’s terms is the only way someone is going to stay clean over an entire lifetime. When the doors of a treatment center open up, it is merely the beginning of recovery. If all goes well, it will hopefully be a worthwhile journey.

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