You've graduated your treatment program with flying colors, but now you're dealing with the ambiguous aftermath of what's next?
As you've probably learned in treatment, staying sober is more than just completing a successful inpatient or outpatient episode.
It requires diligence, discipline, willingness, and a lifelong commitment. Let's get into the top tips for maintaining a sustained recovery.
Were you working with a sponsor or therapist while in treatment? Did you make sober friends during your experience? Don't let that all go just because you completed or graduated.
As humans, we are social creatures, which means that we rely and lean on other people for emotional support and connection.
What does this mean for you and your new life? It means that you need to stay connected with your foundation! In early recovery, the key to staying sober often depends on your support and influences.
Isolation is a huge risk factor for relapse. While you don't need to be the biggest social butterfly in the room, it's essential that you stay social and engaged with others on a regular basis.
You'll feel better and take care of your recovery at the same time.
Furthermore, if you have toxic people in your life (and most of us do), now is the time to practice setting healthy boundaries with those individuals.
Negative energy can impact your self-esteem, other relationships, and coping skills. If someone negative has too much power in your life, it's up to you to do something about it.
You probably heard the famous self-care cliche in treatment, but it's a cliche for a good reason!
Self-care is important for stress management and emotional regulation. It's also important for helping you feel balanced and grounded in your daily activities.
When you take care of your mind, body, and soul, you'll feel less depressed and anxious, and you'll likely experience fewer cravings. It's a win-win!
Mastering self-care is a highly individualized process, but it's all about finding what helps charge your emotional batteries. Chances are, you've discovered a few hobbies, passions, or activities that make you feel uplifted or positive.
For some, it's in the form of yoga or exercise. For others, it's through mindfulness activities like meditation and prayer. And, for some, it's a combination of several different activities.
Whatever your self-care strategy looks like, make sure you prioritize it as part of your routine. It's not an optional luxury; treat it like a medication that you need to take on a regular basis.
Inevitably, you will struggle at some points during your recovery. The key to staying sober is knowing how to ask for help when these stressors arise.
Telling a trusted friend, sponsor, or mental health professional exposes the "secret," but it also opens the door for suggestions and advice.
When you reach out for help, you choose to honor your sobriety, rather than give into your addiction. That's a huge step in the right direction, and it's a necessary step all recovering individuals will need to take at some point during their journeys.
The most important advice here? Asking for help is never weak. In fact, admitting vulnerability and strength is a commendable sign of strength.
Staying sober means taking care of both your emotional and physical health. In the throes of active addiction, most people neglect their nutrition, hygiene, and medical appointments.
In sobriety, it's important to be kind and compassionate to your body. Chances are, you've been poisoning it with substances for a long time. Give it the opportunity to heal with:
While there is no "perfect" way to take care of your physical health, it's still an essential part of staying sober.
Best of all? You'll likely feel more confident and energized when you actually take the steps towards physical wellness. Who doesn't want that?
In the early stages of staying sober, you may feel triggered everywhere you look. Triggers can be anywhere from your parents' house to an old song to a specific food or clothing item.
It should be noted that triggers are not inherently good or bad. They're neutral- they just are.
They only have power if you give them power, and when you're newly sober, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and intimated by your own triggers.
With that said, knowledge is power. Knowing your triggers can help you create an effective action plan for dealing with them as they arise. Furthermore, knowing them will also allow you to help eliminate or avoid their presence in your life right now.
Remember this: everyone has triggers. They are not a sign of weakness or failure. The only weakness here is pretending like you're above having a craving.
Holding yourself accountable is important in staying sober, especially when you're newly out of treatment.
Committing to action means agreeing to some kind of aftercare plan, whether it's sober living, securing a part-time job, continuing with therapy, drug testing, or 12-Step involvement.
Action helps keep you accountable, and it also helps to keep you "out of your own head" at a time where you may feel consumed with your thoughts and feelings.
We all know that there isn't a single solution that guarantees sobriety. However, you have more tools and resources available to you than you probably think!
Tap into what you know, follow through with action, and reach out when you need additional support.
Sobriety may be challenging, but it's always worth the work?
Got questions? Concerns? Worried about yourself or a loved one struggling with addiction? We've got you covered.
Reach out and speak to one of our confidential treatment advisors today.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 8th, 2018.