Life after recovery is the definition of the term “fresh start.” A life of sobriety after addiction completely changes everything you knew before. There are countless differences—some small, some big. You may be living in a different place, perhaps a sober living house, or have a new job. Your relationships will change—you may be rebuilding some friendships while distancing yourself from others. The structure of your days and nights will take on a completely new look, because you are looking at life through the new prism of recovery. It can be exciting, but there are many unknowns as well. So what does life look like after recovery? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you launch yourself into this amazing new chapter.
In Life After Recovery, Who You Spend Time with Matters
One of the first things you’ll notice when you embark on a life of sobriety is that your relationships will be undergoing profound shifts.
In some cases, it will be vital to rebuild trust with people close to you, and it will require honesty and a willingness to share your true feelings in order to, ideally, repair and restore the relationship. In other cases, there will be people who have stood by you and supported you in your choice to enter recovery and work on your addiction issues. There are still other people you will meet in support groups who understand what it means to pursue sobriety and can be helpful resources for you during life after recovery. These are the people you should be spending your time with. They will be the people you can share your goals with, who can hold you accountable, who can listen to you when you’ve had a good or bad day. Their positive influence can be a great encouragement to you.
When you leave your recovery program, you will have done a lot of work examining the issues underlying your addiction, as well as your potential triggers for relapse. Sometimes, those issues and triggers revolve around certain people. If there were friends who spurred you on to get high, or family members who cause tremendous stress in your life that can’t be resolved, you will have to take the step to remove them from your life. People who can’t understand why you are pursuing sobriety won’t give you the support you need, and may even try to pull you back into your addiction.
There are Situations to Avoid in Life After Recovery
Some circumstances are obvious no-go’s during sobriety, such as a bar for someone addicted to alcohol. But what about that restaurant where all your co-workers go every Thursday for happy hour? If that is a trigger for you to potentially relapse, that should be avoided as well.
You may be tempted to fill your life after recovery with an extensive schedule of commitments to keep yourself busy. While it is beneficial to establish routines, taking on too much too fast can pose a risk of relapse. This can lead to undue stress, and if you can’t cope with it, the temptation to return to your addiction to “take the edge off” may be too great to resist. Strike a balance in life and don’t be all-consumed with just one thing. For instance, if you decide to go back to school to prepare for a new career as part of your sobriety, start with one or two classes rather than a full load. And always make sure you have time built into your schedule for support group meetings.
You also want to avoid spending too much time alone. Of course, you want to carve out space for solitary pursuits to meditate and reflect on life, but too much time alone may lead to loneliness, which may be another addiction trigger. If you live by yourself, find activities, such as volunteering, that can help you meet people with similar interests and keep loneliness at bay.
It can be helpful to really think about these potentially problematic situations before you leave recovery, so you are fully prepared for your new “normal” life. You can also think of ways to deal with these situations if you end up in one of them. For instance, if you can’t turn down an invitation to your sibling’s boozy holiday party, bring a friend with you who can keep you accountable for your sobriety goals. Once you are out of your recovery program, it may help to keep your schedule of events limited until you see what you can handle.
Find New Activities in Life After Recovery
Another reason you want a balanced schedule is so you have the time for hobbies, events and activities that give you pleasure. When your life feels rich and satisfying, the craving for your addictive substances lessens and instead you are focused on your newfound happiness.
Hobbies, for instance, can be especially rewarding. You may discover a new passion, such as a gift for speaking Italian or watercolor painting. This creative outlet can be stimulating mentally and emotionally, and your self-esteem can get a tremendous boost as you build your skills and discover your talents. You can develop a sense of fulfillment and inner peace.
Another important activity is exercise. Much research has shown that the endorphins produced when working out can be a great mood booster, and that exercise benefits you emotionally and mentally as well as physically. You will feel healthy and strong, and that may make you less likely to want to turn back to your addiction.
Exercise is an important part of self care, which is crucial for your well-being, especially during those early days, weeks and months of your life after recovery when you may experience many ups and downs while you are gaining your footing. Self care can also include eating a healthy, whole-food diet, regular massages, keeping a clean home and relaxation techniques that reduce stress. When you practice the proper self care, you are less likely to be fatigued, tense or hungry, which can lead you to make poor decisions.
Life after recovery can be transformative, especially when you are prepared for what you can expect. But to get to that point, you have to enter into recovery first. At Casa Palmera, our recovery programs are staffed with empathetic, highly trained professionals who are focused on individualized, whole-person care. With our many addiction treatment options, it is the perfect place to build a firm foundation for sobriety. To learn more, contact us today.