The early days of recovery can be overwhelming and filled with challenges. Some of the challenges can seem insurmountable and the person may wonder if it’s worth the effort. When this mindset develops, the individual is at high risk for relapse. They give up, not realizing that their inability to handle daily challenges is why they become addicted in the first place.
Choosing drugs or alcohol as a coping tool didn’t work then, and it won’t work this time around, either. It’s time to develop new skills and strategies.
Recovery Challenges Faced After Rehab
Rejoining society after rehab is like learning to live again. Seeing the world through sober eyes is like waking up from a long nightmare. The combined effect of these new sensations can be overly stimulating and somewhat scary.
For someone in recovery, the number of obstacles on their path may seem limitless. It seems like temptation and triggers are around every corner. Here are some of the obstacles they will face:
- Learning which coping strategies work. During rehab, patients learn many proven coping skills that will help them manage triggers. But, applying them in daily life can be hard. It takes a lot of determination to walk away from temptation.
- Transitioning from rehab to the outside world. While in rehab, patients felt safe in a secure, comforting environment. All their daily needs were met, and compassionate staff members were always nearby. Someone was available to talk to if things weren’t going well. But, back in the real world, there may be times when the person feels all alone and abandoned. It may be hard to find a sympathetic ear, and a sense of despair can settle in.
- Repairing damaged relationships. People in recovery often discover that not everyone is willing to forgive or forget. Rebuilding trust and making amends doesn’t always work out. When this occurs, it’s easy to feel discouraged and want to give up.
- Finding a new purpose in life. During their drug-using days, the only thing that mattered was getting high. The only goal for the day was to make sure more of the drug or alcohol was available. But, now it’s time to find something worthwhile to focus on. Setting and reaching goals is one of the hardest things for a person in recovery to do.
- Learning to have fun sober. Some people feel that being sober is boring and they can’t imagine a weekend without booze or drugs. But, for someone in recovery, this mindset must change. They need to find new, sober ways to have fun. They may discover that it isn’t as hard as they thought it would be.
- Rebuilding self-image. Letting go of shame, fear, and guilt about the past is vital to helping a person regain self-esteem. This is important because low self-esteem is one cause of substance abuse. It won’t be easy to stop feeling ashamed of things that were said or done while under the influence. But, with the right support and guidance, it can happen.
How to Handle Recovery Challenges
Many people manage to apply the skills they learned in rehab to help them navigate the strange new reality of life after rehab. Others struggle to maintain the positive mindset and determination required for managing the challenges effectively. For those individuals, we offer some tips that may help them handle recovery challenges and avoid relapse.
- Tip #1. To avoid feeling alone in your recovery process, consider staying in a sober-living home during the early days or months after rehab. These homes provide a structured, drug-free environment for patients as they attempt to re-establish their place in society. Residents in sober-living homes must adhere to specific rules such as curfews and contributing to daily chores. The goal is to help a person establish routines that are vital to surviving in a world based on rules.
- Tip #2. Finding a new purpose in life won’t be easy. But, staying active and being sociable can help. Boredom and loneliness are two of the main relapse triggers for someone in early recovery. So, it’s a good idea to find new, sober friends who can introduce you to healthy ways to have fun. As a result, you’ll be more open to change and can think more clearly about the direction you want to go in life.
- Tip #3. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect. But, you can improve yourself by going back to school, volunteering in community programs, reconnecting with religious convictions, or helping another person who is also in recovery. Each day, you’ll feel better about yourself, and with this improved self-esteem, your chance of relapse decreases.
- Tip #4. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. You’ve got a lot to accomplish, but it can be done in stages. You can’t fix everything all at the same time. Focus on one or two things each day or each week so you don’t become overwhelmed. Trying to do too much all at once can leave you frustrated and increases the risk of relapse.
- Tip #5. To help you stay on track during recovery, attend self-help programs or weekly counseling sessions. Interacting with others who are going through the same things can help you see that you aren’t alone. The groups are also a great source of guidance, encouragement, and support.
The main thing you should do is to stop focusing on the mistakes you made in the past. Instead, look forward to achieving your full potential in life.
Design for Change Recovery
At Design for Change Recovery, our program is based on the philosophy that everyone has the ability to change. We help our clients form new habits and positive ways of thinking that will help them transition from hopelessness to optimism.
If you or someone you know needs to overcome substance abuse, contact our Lancaster, CA facility today to learn more about how we can help.
- huffpost.com/ – 8 Ways to Prevent Relapse
- ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ – Prevent Relapse and the 5 Rules of Recovery