Addiction recovery involves many different steps. While there are many steps that someone has to take when first beginning their addiction recovery treatment, such as detox and learning applicable coping mechanisms and life skills, there are also many changes that occur after someone has gotten to the later stages of their recovery. Achieving and maintaining sobriety are difficult tasks, but there are also many other aspects that someone has to address in life after recovery from addiction. Life after addiction is very complicated and needs to be broken down into manageable steps. Rebuilding life after addiction will be a complicated process but is definitely possible with the right mindset and strategies.
Before taking the step into the world at large after recovery and planning one’s path for rebuilding their lives and relationships, it is important to internalize the fact that recovery isn’t something that has a single, definable “end” point. There is no final exam or action that someone can do to absolutely ensure that they will forever be sober, and never again have an urge to drink or use drugs. Rebuilding your life after addiction will still involve constantly dealing with urges, and will demand the persistent use of someone’s grounding techniques and coping mechanisms on a daily basis. It is common for urges to be present for years after someone has left a dedicated recovery facility and has pursued their own personal and professional goals. Recovery from addiction is a life-long affair. However, that isn’t to say that people cannot recover from addiction and learn the proper techniques and coping mechanisms to continue living a healthy, sober life.
Step One – Setting a Starting Point
Creating a plan for someone trying to rebuild their lives after drug addiction or alcohol addiction involves a few different aspects. First, it involves knowing the starting point. This starting point is a list of known and suspected triggers, practiced and effective coping techniques, and emergency plans and contacts if urges or other signs or threats of relapse surface. It is also notes of the various communities that someone is a part of in both their recovery and social spheres. This includes someone’s outpatient group therapy, as well as if they are a part of a club or group that partakes in a shared hobby. Lastly, if someone knows their starting point, they can begin to set goals for themselves. These can be overarching goals for someone’s achievements, such as reaching a certain position within a company, or a certain familial milestone that holds significance. Rebuilding life after addiction involves both knowing where someone is starting from, as well as ultimately knowing where they would like to go.
Step Two – Create a Routine with Manageable Goals
Rebuilding your life after addiction is a very daunting task. With personal and professional aspects to address, there is no easy way to tackling all of the various moving parts all at once. Instead, create a daily routine that can help someone develop and maintain a steady rhythm amidst the constant changes that they will be facing. This can involve setting one’s own morning routine and morning alarms, to scheduling out time for one’s own self-care, social obligations, and time spent at one’s job or going to interviews. This helps someone visualize where their time is going, and how much of it is being spent addressing each dimension of their lives. Balancing time developing one’s self on a professional front is just as important as spending time reconnecting and reestablishing relationships with family and loved ones. These daily goals and time management are all at the behest of each individual, as each person may require varying time allocations for their own wellbeing. However, achieving these daily goals all while maintaining sobriety is a cause for reward on its own. These daily routines give an air of control to someone who is rebuilding their lives after addiction and frame each day as another successful venture in their own lives. Creating a rewards system, such as a weekly movie night or nice dinner out as a reward for accomplishing the goals of each day or week is an important part of keeping on track with these routines.
Step Three – Take Your Time
Each aspect of rebuilding life after addiction takes time. Personal relationships will require someone to begin earning trust again. This involves practicing honesty, even amidst shame, and lots of open communication. For some, this will involve setting any number of boundaries and/or consequences based on each person’s unique situation, as well as their own goals. Trust is something that is fragile and takes time to rebuild. Due to the massive number of changes that someone had undergone during their time in recovery, it could take time as families and loved ones learn to live together again. Threats of relapse and stresses over change may all be constant. Trying to rush others to regain trust rarely leads to truly beneficial results. Some situations may even require family counseling to learn to how deal with these new transitions from both ends, in order to address the situation in a healthy way while still maintaining the necessary respect that the situation demands. Despite the time that it takes to rebuild this trust between family members, it is important to keep constant contact and continue working alongside family and loved ones through the transitionary period in order to maintain a unified front in quelling someone’s urges or triggers.
Taking time has another important factor – romantic relationships. It is important not to rush into a relationship like this when first rebuilding life after recovery. There are many different changes and stresses that someone will be facing day to day, and it can be difficult to juggle all of them without also juggling new romantic relationships. The beginning of this rebuilding process also holds great risks in urges and relapses, and it is important to continue to prioritize recovery over all else until someone’s new life begins to take a definitive shape before delving into the romantic side of life.
Step Four – Exploring Employment Options
Similarly, it is important to take one’s time when pursuing one’s professional goals as well. For some, it may involve restarting their professional career, or deciding to pursue a new career path entirely. In these cases, it is common that someone may have to begin from an entry-level position again. While this can be disheartening, it is also important in signifying the rebirth of someone’s life and the agency that they have over its direction. Searching for jobs can take time, and so taking the opportunity to volunteer where needed can help someone continue to develop their own professional skillset, boost their resume, and even begin creating new connections for references and networking if needed. There can be any number of triggers and stresses from the workplace, and it is important not to feel like there is a rush to delve back into that world due to these stresses and the ultimate threat of relapse.
Finding employment is a difficult process. For someone rebuilding their lives, it is an essential, yet highly stressful, step. Rebuilding life has a financial component, but it is also possible that someone is still involved in their own outpatient therapy in order to better deal with the stresses and anxieties of this transitionary phase. If this is the case, it is important to continue to prioritize this recovery therapy, as experiencing a relapse can cause someone to lose their job and have to restart yet again.
Step Five – Keep Active and Keep Social
Rebuilding life also means that someone has to maintain control over their own wellbeing in almost every way. Setting one’s own schedule and maintaining their own methods of self-care, all while balancing recovery appointments and responsibilities. Keeping physically active is a major part of this. Going on bike rides or jogs, or engaging in recreational sports all are major stress relievers, which is very important during these transitionary phases of life. Maintaining a healthy body can keep one’s homeostasis in balance while also providing an outlet for any stress, anxiety, or depression that all may accompany the rebuilding process. Likewise, it is also important to stay social during these times. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of aspects that need to be addressed, and having active social circles can also provide an outlet for someone to express their own newfound identity after recovery, as well as the opportunity for self-care. Isolation is one of the major contributors that can lead to relapse, and keeping active, both physically and socially, can help someone better cope with the triggers and threat of relapse in a healthy, proactive way. While outpatient and group therapy are important social outlets, it is also important to have one’s own social circles and a healthy, supportive group of friends and loved ones.