Completing an inpatient addiction treatment program is a huge chapter in your recovery story. It is a time for celebration but may also cause some anxiety as you leave the structured environment of a residential rehab facility and re-learn how to navigate your everyday life. Many people ask themselves: what comes next?
Just as every person is unique, so are their journeys to recovery. While there isn’t a prescribed path that always works for everyone, there are several next steps that you can take to help you confidently maintain your sobriety after inpatient rehab.
Create a Plan for Continuing Care
Before completing your inpatient addiction treatment program, you should have the opportunity to meet with a Discharge Planner. These specialists help you develop a post-rehab treatment plan to help you maintain your newfound sobriety. For many, additional individual and group therapy in an outpatient setting is recommended and may include an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Other options for after-care could also include recommendations for sober living, continuing care sessions, or participation in other support groups.
It is important to think of addiction as a long-term or chronic disease that requires ongoing maintenance and support. Like other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension or asthma, relapses happen. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse is more likely if a person stops following their prescribed medical or clinical treatment plan. Planning for and continuing treatment after an inpatient stay helps reduce relapse risk.
Seek Support in Your Local Recovery Community
No matter where you are in your recovery, having a solid support system is always key. One way to find encouragement and accountability is by developing healthy connections with others who are in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and can offer insights into how they have remained sober. If you bond with a particular person with at least a few years of sobriety, you could ask them to be your sponsor.
There are millions of people who have been through what you’re experiencing now, meaning there are usually thriving recovery communities in every region. Attending meetings and support group sessions is the easiest way to plug into your local recovery community. National organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery, and many others offer support and education. Their membership is also wide-reaching, welcoming, and easy to connect within your home region or when traveling.
There are now also many online resources to find support, including streaming recovery meetings and social media groups. Your rehab program’s Alumni Coordinator can offer direction toward healthy resources and often can help you connect with fellow alumni and others in your local recovery community, too.
Focus on Your Basic Physical and Emotional Needs
A combination of self-care and self-awareness is another key to maintaining a life of sobriety. Taking care of your physical and mental health allows you to better recognize and minimize triggers or other signs of distress.
One technique used by those in recovery is HALT. HALT stands for Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness – four basic feelings that should be managed at all times. This simple mindfulness practice can help you maintain healthy habits after inpatient addiction treatment and long into your recovery.
Hunger represents being physically or emotionally starved. The need to eat is very apparent, but you must also meet your nutritional needs. A healthy body is needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Hunger also represents the emotional needs we have. Creating a solid support system will help fulfill these emotional needs and keep you from cravings. As a recovering individual, you must stay “fed” in all sense of the meaning.
Anger is a healthy expression, but problems can arise when it is mismanaged. When feeling angry, halt and try to trace the cause of your anger. Ask yourself if it is worth it, and if it is not, let it go. If your anger needs expression, consider expressing it healthily through activities like exercising or a creative project.
In any stage of recovery, isolation can be dangerous. Being alone can prompt negative feelings or even a temptation to return to your previous habits. You can counteract this by reaching out to friends, family, or your support community. Whenever you feel lonely, halt, and make a conscious effort to be more social. Call your friend, visit a loved one, or run some errands. Rather than secluding yourself, connect to those that want to see you happy and healthy.
In dealing with life’s responsibilities, it is impossible to 100% avoid tough days that wear you down. Low energy reserves can lead to clouded feelings and poor decisions. It is vital to your health and sobriety to make time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Recharging your body, mind, and spirit will help you overcome challenges and support your overall health.
HALT can serve as a reminder that we need to take care of our basic needs every day. For those recovering from substance abuse, paying closer attention to your feelings can help you prevent relapse. Take a moment each day to check in with yourself. Ask, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?” Assessing how you feel takes only a minute. Doing so will make the everyday stress of life easier to deal with and help you maintain sobriety.
While completion of inpatient addiction treatment is the beginning of a new life in recovery, it isn’t the end of the road. As with treatment for any chronic disease, maintaining your sobriety requires attention, care, and lifestyle changes. Set yourself up for success by planning action before you discharge your rehab facility and return home. Seek help from professionals in developing a plan and finding a support system. Remember that recovery may be hard work, but a healthy, productive life free of addiction is the reward!
If you or a loved one is struggling to take the first step in sobriety, there are resources for help. Our experts are available to talk 24/7. Call us at 888-SOBER-40 or Live Chat to learn more about our inpatient rehab facilities.