7 Ways To Move On With Your Life While Still In Recovery


Entering into a drug or alcohol recovery program is considered a big accomplishment, but for the individual on the receiving end, withdrawal (think diarrhea, abdominal pain, sweating/chills, insomnia, and seizures) isn’t the only arduous part of the process. Handling guilt and shame; managing a job sober; and interacting with loved ones, friends, and co-workers can cause feelings of anxiety, irritability, dysphoria. Despite the insurmountable amount of roadblocks that can prompt a relapse, there are several crucial habits one must adopt — in conjunction with a professional treatment program — in order to stay positive and motivated throughout the entire process, and beyond. 

1. Handling Guilt And Shame

Many people avoid treatment due to the stigma surrounding drug and alcohol abuse. So, before anything else, an individual in rehab needs to learn how to cope with feelings of guilt and shame with psychological soul-searching techniques such as:

  1. Facing difficult feelings and being open to talking about them.
  2. Determining whether feelings of guilt are coming from a rational place.
  3. If applicable, apologize in order to seek peace.
  4. Accepting that you don’t need everyone’s approval and that not everyone is perfect.
  5. Commiting to the present and future in an effort to disregard feelings of shame.
  6. Learning to forgive yourself.

2. Maintain Relationships

It’s important to maintain healthy relationships with a partner, family, friends, and co-workers throughout all stages of treatment — getting a grasp on guilt and shame is beneficial in this case. It's suggested that people who feel good in their own skin have the capacity to have close relationships with others. In this case, start small by reaching out to one person per week. The more support someone in treatment has, the more apt he/she is to stay in the program.

3. Return To Work With Confidence

Along with re-establishing relationships with co-workers and managing feelings of guilt and shame, it’s important to discuss treatment plans with an employer. Find out the company’s drug and alcohol policy and employee rights and whether there’s an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for counseling and referrals to rehab facilities. It’s also crucial to have a grasp of what health insurance will cover because it varies with each provider. However, all plans under the Affordable Care Act are required to offer mental health and substance abuse services. An employer is required to respect the privacy of the employee in a rehab program, so hopefully this provides the individual in treatment with solace in knowing coworkers won’t be having any water cooler conversation.

4. Take Care Of Your Health

The body went through a lot of wear and tear under the abuse of drugs or alcohol, so it’s crucial to incorporate proper nutrition (insurance may cover a nutritionist if necessary), adequate sleep, and exercise. A negative mood can derail treatment, so participating in endorphin-boosting activities can be extremely beneficial.

5. Adopt A Hobby

Engaging in a hobby or activity like painting, needlepoint, biking, horseback riding, or cooking can have a positive impact on self-esteem. Newcomers experience what is called “a pink cloud,” which translates to a blissful state one experiences for the first time since engaging in drugs and alcohol.

6. Give Back

Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with others, but it also establishes the realization that there are other people, animals, places, and things that require aid. By giving back, many individuals in treatment regain feelings of self-worth.

7. Practice Optimism And Gratitude

Practicing gratitude during treatment has a great impact on mood, to include a lower level of negativity and feelings of peace and calm. It’s suggested that anyone in treatment conduct the “Three Good Things” exercise before bedtime which entails writing down three things he/she is grateful for that day — big or small.


The Importance Of Aftercare

Even if rehab is a success, it’s wise to engage in an aftercare plan to avoid a possible relapse.

Aftercare can involve everything from sponsorship, mentorship, and support groups to goal setting, modification of coping skills, and stress management. Certain people, places, and things can trigger old feelings, so having a solid rehab plan can provide the necessary ammunition to beat temptation and make healthy choices.

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