Creating a Plan After Rehab

Patty Bell on Jan 18, 2023 in Life Transition

It may not have been the best time you’ve ever had, but completing a rehab program most definitely is one of the most important things you will ever accomplish in your life. Attaining sobriety is akin to receiving a precious gift, a gift that you must now nurture and protect. Creating a plan for your life after rehab can help you do just that.

Why You Need a Plan After Rehab

It is very common to have mixed emotions when heading out of rehab and returning to regular life. While you surely feel somewhat empowered by your new sobriety, you may have some feelings of anxiety and ambivalence, too. Life after rehab is an unknown, which can be scary, and that is exactly why you need a plan.

By creating a plan for navigating life in recovery, you give yourself a head start in the journey. It can be immensely freeing to develop a game plan, something to adhere to and to help guide you, especially in those early vulnerable months. To learn how to make a post-rehab plan, keep on reading.

Develop Your Plan For After Rehab

After completing a treatment program, you may feel like you are fumbling your way through the dark. Make a plan for this important transition from rehab back to your home and community. Include the following elements to make your recovery success plan ironclad.

Aftercare actions. Add as many of these aftercare actions as possible to support recovery:

  • Sober living housing. Sober living provides a substance-free home environment that can be an excellent step as you transition from rehab to home. Sober living is especially beneficial if your home environment is not supportive of your recovery efforts.
  • Outpatient counseling sessions. Weekly group or individual therapy sessions offer ongoing support, especially during the early months of recovery.
  • Life skills classes. Rebuilding your life in early recovery often includes seeking employment. Brushing up on interviewing techniques and resume writing can be very helpful after rehab.
  • Recovery community participation. Attending a local A.A. or SMART Recovery community (or a variety of others) can provide the social support, fellowship, and accountability that reinforces sobriety.
  • Alumni activities. Alumni support enables you to reconnect with peers in recovery and enjoy sober social activities, motivational speakers, and volunteer opportunities.

Lifestyle changes. Immediately change your former unhealthy habits by replacing them with recovery-supportive healthy habits:

  • Regular exercise. The physical benefits of exercise are well known. Engaging in regular physical activity yields stronger muscles and joints, better heart health, and lower blood pressure. Exercise also has significant mental health benefits. For someone in recovery, these may be even more important that the physical health benefits because they can reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Revamp your diet. To restore health in recovery, create a diet that is rich in lean proteins, foods that have high omega-3 content, fresh veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and plenty of water. Avoid processed and sugary snacks, and limit caffeinated beverages.
  • Get quality sleep. Getting good sleep is essential to maintaining a positive mindset and attitude in recovery. Improve sleep quality by maintaining a regular bedtime schedule. You can also enhance sleep by shutting down electronic devices one hour before bed and reading a book instead.
  • Cultivate social ties. It is common to feel somewhat lonely in early recovery, since many of your prior associations will have to end. It is important to cultivate new sober friendships, as this is an important layer of protection against relapse. Attend some sober Meetup groups, join a sober gym, and make friends at your local A.A. group.

Don’t Forget to Develop Emotional Sobriety

Finding enjoyment in sobriety may seem like a strange and elusive concept in the early days of recovery. Emotional sobriety is the psychological piece of recovery, in which you develop a healthy attitude about sobriety.

Some tips for strengthening your emotional sobriety include:

  • Practice those CBT and DBT skills
  • Nurture healthy relationships and end the toxic ones
  • Take up a new hobby or interest, set new academic or professional goals, and take the steps to achieving them
  • Practice self-care by learning relaxation methods

Things You’ll Love About Sobriety

As you read all the important things to include in your post-rehab plan, you may begin to wonder if recovery is worth all this effort. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Consider these reasons why:

  • Finding renewed purpose. Sadly, addiction robs an individual of their sense of meaning and purpose in life. In recovery, you have an opportunity to redefine your purpose in life, and then pursue activities and goals that support that purpose. Start by considering the things you feel passionate about, and then begin the process of seeking a new purpose in life.
  • Being productive again. How amazing it is to feel productive again. Whether it is finding a new career path or resurrecting your former one, work is protective of recovery. In fact, a study cites employment as a key factor in positive treatment outcomes. This is because work not only provides an income source, but also structure, social connections, and a sense of self-worth and value.
  • Feeling joy again. What a welcome emotion it is to finally experience a sense of joy again. As you adjust to your new sober lifestyle, and as your physical, mental, and spiritual health continues to improve, you will begin to notice a change in your outlook. Instead of feeling lost and lonely as you did in active addiction, you begin to feel a sense of joy and happiness creeping back in. And now, with a clear head and healthy body, you can truly experience the beauty that exists all around you.
  • Being able to give back. A key tenet of Alcoholics Anonymous is to give back by assisting newcomers in their journey. In time, you can sponsor someone and help guide their steps in early recovery. There are many other satisfying ways to give back, such as helping out at a local charity by volunteering your time.

Just remember the old adage that patience is a virtue. As you progress in recovery, joy will come if you just stay the course.

About the Author

Patty Bell is the Family Relations Manager and Interventionist of Capo by the Sea, a luxury addiction and dual diagnosis treatment program located in South Orange County, California. After her own successful experience with the recovery process and journey, she decided to create a unique program that was individualized for each client’s specific treatment needs. Patty's passion to share his own positive experience with others, while being a living example of the freedom found in recovery, is what motivates her to guide clients toward their own stable, long-term recovery.

Patty Bell is a Addictions Counselor in Dana Point, CA.

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