Coming out on the other side of a detox and recovery program is a momentous time in your life and cause for celebration. However, the work doesn’t end here. This is the point at which you will take everything you learned in the past few weeks to create a great new life for yourself. Addiction recovery is a job that requires you to show up every day, and much like anything in life, it is beneficial to have a plan. A well-thought-out plan can be the difference between starting a new sober lifestyle and being set back by relapse.
What should your plan entail? It should highlight your strengths and weaknesses as a person. Your plan should be simple to follow, and not feel restrictive but instead liberating. As time passes on you may find yourself following your plan without even realizing it. But in those first few weeks following your exit from a recovery program keep your plan close by. If you feel something isn’t working, edit your plan but never give up.
What should your addiction recovery plan include? We’re here to highlight key ideas to incorporate for a successful recovery and life moving forward.
Build a Support System in Addiction Recovery
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well at this important time in your recovery journey your sobriety is a young child that can use all the help it can get. This doesn’t mean putting the success of your recovery in other’s hands. But instead by surrounding yourself with helpful guiding individuals, you can trust that when you need a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on you are making the best choice for your journey moving forward. What should your support system include? That is entirely up to you. But chances are you know the types of people for who you find yourself in trouble sacrificing your sobriety for. And you probably know the types of people who want to see you succeed.
Now that you are sober, you may have discovered that your past relationships were not only unhealthy but downright toxic. It’s not just your drinking buddies and drug dealers who can get you into trouble—sometimes those who are closest to you can contribute to a relapse.
Have some sober friends you can invite as your plus-one to a social event like a party or wedding. And stay in touch with your sponsor and call them if you’re feeling anxious or uncomfortable. Lean on close friends and family for support, even if your relationships aren’t what they used to be. Think about going to counseling or family therapy to help with that and to deal with other personal issues.
Identify Your Triggers
During your recovery program you likely spent a good amount of time considering what triggered your destructive behaviors. Now that you are back in the day to day routine of life, it is the chance to delve even deeper into what these triggers may be for you. It stands to reason that if you quit your drug of choice but continue with your same routine, hanging around the same people and places, and not making any changes in your circumstances, it will be much easier to slip back into your old behaviors and habits.
Become more aware of when and where you are most vulnerable to automatic use or when decisions are needed. You may also need to change your route to work or home in order to avoid any triggers, or people, places, or things that make you want to use drugs or drink again.
Stress is likely a large part of your triggers, but unfortunately stress will creep up from time to time in your recovery journey. How you handle these stresses during addiction recovery can guide you to the path of success that leads you to set back. Think of how you can employ relaxation strategies. A calm state increases our decision making capacity. Relaxation techniques, such as slow breathing or meditation, will help to decrease the stress response.
Practice Healthy Living
When you were an addict, your life most likely revolved around drinking or getting high. The times when you weren’t actually engaged in substance abuse were probably dominated by thoughts of how you would get your next fix, and you likely had everything arranged around making it possible for you to do so. Practice healthy living as a replacement for the times you were using or drinking.
The process of detoxing and enduring withdrawal from a dependence on drugs and/or alcohol is draining, making it important to begin focusing on rebuilding and then maintaining your strength and health after leaving treatment. Exercise, eating well, meditation, and channeling your energy to meaningful activities are all excellent ways to practice healthier living.
Eat Well: Your brain requires energy from food to make decisions. When blood glucose drops, our decision making capacity decreases. Keep your body fueled to increase your mental energy.
Exercise Often: How often did you work out while you were drinking or using drugs? You may be sober now, but are you healthy? Getting into a regular exercise routine can make a world of difference in improving your energy levels, your sense of well-being, and your feeling of self-confidence.
Breathe Deeply: A calm state increases our decision making capacity. Relaxation techniques, such as slow breathing or meditation, will help to decrease the stress response when things become mentally difficult.
Create a Schedule
You don’t recover from an addiction by simply stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will eventually catch up with you again. Early addiction recovery can be difficult for numerous reasons, but one of the most prominent reasons for this is the experience of feeling overwhelmed.
A routine, especially in early recovery, can reintroduce a person to healthy habits and balance. Having a daily or weekly routine can help provide structure and a sense of guidance or comfort. While it may not be possible to follow a routine exactly every day, having some semblance of structure can make days more manageable.
Things to include in your sober schedule during addiction recovery:
- The time a person wakes up or goes to bed
- Eating meals
- Engaging in hobbies
- Socializing with others
- Work schedules
- Personal hygiene
- Cleaning around the house
- Time for self-reflection or meditation
- Engagement with recovery services or support groups
- Exploring new interests or activities
Establishing these healthy routine parameters early in treatment can help improve the recovery process, as well as give you something to do if you start feeling the urge to use again.
Manage Your Urges and Expectations
While most urges last only 15 to 30 minutes, it can be hard to fight them off. You might try a substitute, like chewing gum or a personal mantra: “I am stronger than this, and it will pass.” Set aside time each day to reflect on your reasons for making this tremendous change in your life. Evaluate your progress, and be realistic about your expectations. Trouble-shoot problems, and determine what you need to do next. Identify your personal target and take daily action in that direction. You may be thinking that you need to charge back out into the world and take life by the horns. You may feel great, reinvigorated, and recharged, and you should absolutely live life to its fullest now, but don’t take on more than you can handle yet. The pace of life is likely to be quite different now, and it is very well worth it to take some time to readjust. Honor your journey, and always be proud of the progress that you have made to get you to this point in your journey.
Be Proud During Addiction Recovery
Your addiction has given you the opportunity to change your life. Changing your life is what makes recovery both difficult and rewarding. Prioritize what is most important. Your routine in addiction recovery is vital to your success. Be sure to make time for loved ones and rebuild relationships that may have suffered over the years due to addiction. These fundamentals will help structure the life you have always wanted and can be a valuable ally when you are feeling the struggle. Above all else, take pride in your recovery. This fledgling journey is a difficult task, but YOU made the decision to be here and that’s a wonderful thing.
We want to be there to be a support system during all the low times but also celebrate with you during all the great times. When our patients succeed, we succeed. Our goal is for every patient to enjoy a life free from the shackles of drug or alcohol addiction. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can help you at any stage of your recovery journey.