You’re leaving rehab and feeling anxious. What will life outside be like without alcohol and drugs? How difficult will it be to achieve a healthy and happy lifestyle?
It will not be easy, but do not be discouraged, if you are prepared to put in some effort, you will soon see results. Just remember that in early recovery, doing nothing and just hoping that ‘everything will be ok’ is not an option. You learned in rehab treatment that you have to work hard at recovery and that ‘it works if you work it’. Rehab treatment prepares you for the challenges you will face in your new sober life, but you will need to apply what you have learned. Luckily there are plenty of ways to help yourself build a vibrant, varied and stable social life.
10 Ways to Handle Early Recovery & Build a Social Life after Rehab Treatment
1. Be positive. In order to avoid relapse, recovery has to be enjoyed. Think positively and this will happen. The laws of attraction say that ‘like attracts like’ – being positive attracts other positive people to you.
2. Take care of yourself ““ body, mind and spirit ““ eat, sleep, exercise and open your mind to new mental and spiritual experiences. This will bring you in contact with other like-minded people. Remember HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired): these emotions have to be kept under control by regularly checking your physical and social needs are being met.
3. Plan and prioritise your day with reference to your aftercare plan ““ if you do not make recovery your priority, your social activities will most likely lead you into danger.
4. Use the support networks ““ the AA/NA Fellowships, aftercare and ex-patient networks, family and loved ones. Don’t just show up for meetings and get-togethers but be involved, feel part of the ‘team’.
5. Branch out: Try organising different social activities. For many of our old buddies, the pub may seem the automatic meeting place, but there are plenty of other (much) more interesting places to meet ““ art galleries, coffee shops, cinema, meetup groups, yoga club etc. If old friends don’t like this, perhaps we need to find new friends who do.
6. Avoid dangerous social situations and practise saying ‘no’.
7. Practise making small choices that are right for you ““ in early recovery, even a trip to the supermarket may need careful consideration.
8. Have an emergency plan to extract yourself from social situations you can’t handle: a telephone number of an understanding person and a means of departure ““ a taxi number perhaps.
9. Use social media in a healthy way: Platforms such as Facebook have a wide variety of groups and connections that can be really helpful for making new contacts or for staying in touch. But beware the dangers of spending excessive time on your computer ““ it can close your mind to other activities.
10. Don’t obsess about your addiction ““ it is nothing to be ashamed of. You may feel there is a social stigma and that everyone is judging you negatively but in reality most people will give you respect. Recovery from addiction is a great achievement. Walk tall!
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