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Life After Rehab: Now What?

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Life After Rehab: Now What?

Going to rehab is hard enough. But actually staying sober afterward? Without any guidance? Aside from feeling a little daunting (one day at a time), a lack of direction in early sobriety spells danger with flashing red letters. Removing substance abuse from your daily routine, though positive, upheaves your entire life. It often leaves you with a list of questions about what to do after finishing a rehab program. What happens when you get bored and desperately want to use? How do you find a supportive community that won’t pressure you to relapse? Thankfully these questions about life after rehab all have answers.

Life After Rehab: Now What?

What Does “Rehab” Look Like?

Depending on the level of care of your rehab, you may or may not have actually completed a comprehensive program. A holistic recovery experience consists of several transitional phases. Each phase offers a different environment and set of rules that progressively prepare you for life after rehab:

  • Detox (7-10 days)
  • Residential (30-90 days)
  • Outpatient (3-6 months)
  • Sober Living

Though detox alone will get you physically clean and sober, that is not where the heavy lifting happens. Most of the work in rehab comes in through therapy and life planning.

Tools of Rehab

Several cornerstones of rehab address foundational issues of addiction. Taking care of this foundation allows you to build a sober life effectively once you complete a program. Comprehensive rehab programs teach all of these basic tools for people to be prepared once they transition out:

Tool #1


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Individual counselors and case managers utilize cognitive behavioral therapy for treatment planning. Since personal circumstances vary, each person’s path to recovery looks different. Negative and destructive thought processes get addressed here.

Interpersonal Therapy: Group therapy serves an important purpose in treatment. It helps peers recognize and evaluate each other’s progress while working on constructive communication. It’s often said that addiction is a family disease; interpersonal therapy prepares recovering addicts for approaching these damaged relationships.

Tool #2

Life Planning

School and Career Planning: Addiction often derails our lives. We drop out of school, run into issues at work, and simply don’t worry about any of those consequences… until now. Treatment puts the focus back on where it matters through structured life planning. Individual case managers should sit down with recovering addicts to outline the steps needed to get back on track. Whether that’s re-enrolling in school, finding a new job, or something else, rehab should point you in the right direction.

Crisis Planning: Emergencies happen. Major events often become relapse triggers for people in recovery. For example, if your best friend from treatment starts using again, how are you supposed to maintain hope that you’ll be able to make it? Crisis planning provides a toolbox for handling high stress situations without relapsing.

Tool #3

Sober Living & Aftercare

Most people in recovery benefit from transitioning to a sober living situation after they’ve completed treatment. This provides ongoing structure while allowing a manageable amount of freedom. But whether or not you choose sober living, working a program is essential.

Many rehabs also offer some form of aftercare. Try reaching out to their staff after you’ve discharged; most programs will welcome the update on your sobriety! Even if you’ve relapsed, your program can offer resources for you to get back on the right track. Our admission counselors are also happy to offer recovery resources over the phone at 855-737-7363.

Rehab: A Change of Mindset

You may have noticed that it’s termed as “recover-ing alcoholic” rather than “recovered alcoholic.” Although rehab has a definitive end date, recovery itself is an ongoing process. It requires a fundamental shift in behavior and outlook.

The purpose of rehab is to plant those seeds. It’s not a miracle fix. There will always be the danger of backsliding into old behaviors. In order to circumvent that, addicts in recovery cultivate certain habits. The change looks slightly different for everyone, but commonalities exist:

  • Being Present: Although altered states of consciousness may seem fun or tempting, they are an empty sink. All of that energy and time goes down the drain, when it could be going toward more productive and fulfilling pursuits. Being present helps recovering addicts focus their attention on reality.
  • Taking One Day at a Time: Viewing recovery as being “for the rest of your life” seems daunting. But managing to stay sober “at least for today” helps make that goal more manageable.
  • Finding a Fellowship: Having a support network offers critical help during times of crisis, and positive reinforcement on a daily basis. Cultivating a positive environment helps keep a good head space.


If you or a loved one is seeking help for a substance abuse problem, our addiction counselors are available 24/7 by phone: 855-737-7363

Posted in Addiction, Health and Wellness, Recovery, Relapse