Your time in an alcohol rehab is at an end and your heading home soon. You have done great in the last 4, 6 or 8 weeks and now it is time to head back out into mainstream society. You plan on staying free of alcohol but you know there is always a chance of relapse. Diligence is your best friend now and complacency is the enemy.
Inpatient alcohol rehab is not a quick fix, just like it took you some time to become an alcohol, recovery is going to take time as well. Good thing here is you have been working on your recovery and you should have a considerable number of tools to help you with staying sober after rehab. Here are a few tips that you may or may not already know. Regardless it is always good to review.
1: Staying Sober After Rehab - Aftercare
Locate and stay in aftercare, be that 12-step groups or a counsellor either way this is the first thing you need to plan on and stick to. The inpatient rehab you have been to should of already helped you set this up and it should be part of your plan of attack, also remember 12-step meetings and counsellors are not mutually exclusive you can do both and that's not a bad idea. If your inpatient rehab didn't help you set up aftercare you need to do it yourself as soon as possible. The more support and aftercare you have the better.
2: Staying Sober After Rehab - Your Plan
Follow your relapse prevention plan. Regardless of which rehab you went to all of them should of helped you make a relapse prevention plan and done some relapse prevention training, use it! Your knowledge of triggers are some of your strongest weapons against relapse, also what you learned during your inpatient relapse prevention training should be practiced regularly, especially in the first year or so. The longer you have been using the tools for relapse prevention the more automatic they will become and the less you will need to think about them.
3: Staying Sober After Rehab - Keep Busy
Keep Busy. You have probably decided not to hang around the same people you use to drink with and this is a great step, the problem with this is it can leave you feeling lonely and isolated if all your friends were drinking buddies. Developing a new support group, healthy hobbies and activities can be a great help in keeping you busy. If you were in one of the rehabs in Thailand you probably did a considerable amount of exercise, if you are feeling the like you want to drink out of boredom, restlessness or loneliness go to the gym or another healthy venue. In time you will build a new network of friends that are not triggers for your previous drinking. If you are not working, regardless of if you need the money or not, it could be a great thing for you not only will it keep you busy it will help with your self worth and is generally a healthy environment. Or volunteer somewhere, I would recommend at this point not in an addiction environment that can come later if it is something you feel you want to do. For now you are the most important person to worry about.
4: Staying Sober After Rehab - Look after yourself
Take good care of yourself. Many things can bring on an unexpected craving, dehydration, hunger, anger, loneliness can all induce cravings that might sneak up on you when you are ill prepared. Try to eliminate as many of these as possible by looking after your body as well as your mind. Eat properly and regularly always drink plenty of water, avoid stressful situations that you don’t absolutely have to attend. As mentioned above diligence is your best ally now.
5: Staying Sober After Rehab - Talk to your family
Talk to your friends and family. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible, speak with your family and other loved ones about how you are feeling the challenges you are facing be sure they are aware that you might not go to a family party because you are not willing to deal with the temptation of the alcohol that will be there. Even good feelings can trigger a relapse, by speaking with your family you are not only getting there assistance and support you are also developing a healthier relationship with them that may have been damaged due to your drinking previously. With their support you will also make healthier decisions as you progress in your recovery.
6: Staying Sober After Rehab - If you Slip
If you do slip and drink again, don’t let it turn into a full-blown relapse. Relapse can happen to anyone and that's why I keep bringing up diligence in your recovery. In this game of life we can’t win every battle so if you found that you have drank take a step back, call your support network and analyze the situation that triggered the lapse. Regret can be a very powerful emotion, don’t come down so hard on yourself that you accept defeat. Learn from the experience, get back on your feet and move forward. The one thing I do not like about the 12-steps is counting days since you drank and one drink taking you back to day one. One day at a time is great but if you can count all the time since you have had a drink as sober time, shouldn’t you also count all the time before your drinking was a problem? So if you are 40 years old and you were a problem drinker for 5 years, you actually have 35 years of sobriety under your belt, not just the last couple months since you had a drink. We are only human, we make mistakes, don’t let your mistake define you, learn from it and move on. If you do lapse it is not failure and you are better equipped with everything you have learned to pick yourself up and get back on track now then you were before rehab.
7: Staying Sober After Rehab - Listen to the Pros
Listen to your therapist, counsellor or sponsor. They want to help you to stay sober and have a considerable amount of experience learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to alcoholics living without alcohol. Take what they tell you to heart, they have your best interest in mind.
8: Staying Sober After Rehab - Take Action
Most importantly if you are feeling like you might drink take action, call your counsellor, sponsor, family member or trusted friend who knows what you are going through. Get yourself out of the situation that has you focusing on drinking. As I said above we can’t win every battle but if we take an aware and proactive approach and move away from situations and triggers that we have learned to identify we give yourself a much better chance.
In closing; You can do this, many people have already laid out the path for you. Seeking and maintaining aftercare and a healthy support network is the best thing you can do to help achieve your goals. Recovery isn’t a solo sport, it’s a team effort, look to your team for help, if you don’t have one build one. AA and NA are great for this and will give you people willing to help you through the dark times. No single suggestion will assure you always stay sober, you will have to put all your own tools together of all the ones that work best for you. Remember if you do lapse it does not have to be a full on decent back to rock bottom you have the tools to collect yourself and get out of it, you might need a little more help and that is fine, be sure to ask for it, it will be there when you need it the most.