Life after rehab is fraught with risk, but it can also be a joyful time of new beginnings. To avoid the negative outcomes, like relapsing, and to fully embrace your new life of sobriety, it’s important to make a plan. Perhaps the most dangerous way to approach recovery is to wing it. With a formal plan for how you will tackle life after rehab, you give yourself the best chance of a successful, enjoyable and fulfilling recovery. Here is a step-by-step guide for making that plan:
- Start during rehab. Your action plan for life after rehab should start in rehab. Make use of the professionals at your service to create your plan. These are the experts, and they can guide you as you try to figure out what your new life will look like.
- Include your family. Hopefully you have a chance to visit with your family members while you’re wrapping up your stay in rehab. If so, talk to them about what you think your future will be. Ask their advice and support in crafting a plan for recovery. It’s especially important to involve those people with whom you will be living after you leave rehab. These are the people who will be directly supporting you in your recovery.
- Determine who your friends are. You know who will support you in recovery and who will not. Eliminate all those friends who will not support you and may even actively sabotage your recovery. Knowing in advance who to get rid of will make it easier to keep them at a distance once you’re back home.
- Line up a support group. Treatment doesn’t end with rehab. To have a successful recovery you need to continue with some kind of addiction treatment or care. A support group is a great way to do that. Figure out what group you’ll join and when the meetings are before you leave rehab.
- List your triggers and plan how to avoid them. This is a task that your counselors at rehab are particularly qualified to help you with, so get them on board. Make a physical list of what you think will trigger you to relapse and work with your therapist or counselor to make a specific plan for how to cope with each one. For instance, if stress triggers you to drink, come up with a list of alternative activities that can help you reduce stress during those times.
- Plan your work/education/activities. Important triggers for anyone in recovery are boredom and lack of purpose. Your life used to revolve around drugs or alcohol. Now you need something to replace that purpose. Decide what one or two activities you want to focus on and make a plan for how you will approach them. Will you go back to school or work? Will you look for a new job? Will you start a business or look for volunteer work? Decide on a few things now and don’t be afraid to follow your dreams, even if they seem out of reach right now.
- Plan for relapse. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is plan for relapse. No matter how hard you try, it may happen. Decide now what you will do, how you will cope and how you will get back to sobriety and recovery.
Making a plan is the best way to approach your recovery from addiction. Rehab was just the first step. Now you have the challenge of living a sober life with meaning. Make a plan and be ready to start your new life with hope and purpose.