The completion of rehab is only the beginning of recovery. Substance use disorder can take months, years, or a lifetime of continued treatment and therapy to cure or fully control.
Substance use disorder (or SUD, a term that covers both substance abuse and addiction) is a persistent mental condition that directly changes how the brain functions. Because the brain takes significantly longer than other parts of the body to heal, SUD usually poses a significant challenge for people who have had it for some time.
If you just completed a rehab program, you will probably find the road ahead to be quite a challenge. But the goal of a life free from substances is ultimately rewarding. Below are seven things every person who has completed rehab should remember. If you’re in North Texas and need treatment, check out this comprehensive directory of rehab centers in Dallas.
1.) You are still responsible for your actions
Substance use disorder directly attacks and destroys a person’s willpower. However, that does not mean that people with one do not bear any responsibility. SUD severity is in a spectrum, and most people with the illness are perfectly capable of understanding at least some of the consequences of their actions to some extent. For many people leaving rehab, this is something they may have to come to terms with if they want to fully recover.
2.) You need to take each day as it comes
Large problems become less difficult if they’re broken down into smaller, easier-to-handle ones. Real life will probably seem daunting after one finishes a residential program or leaves a transitional home. However, it is still likely to still be just a series of small, solvable problems that you could face a few at a time.
By letting go of what you can’t control and just taking each day as a set of solvable challenges and recovery opportunities, you can start to feel less overwhelmed. When this happens, you can focus on your recovery and at becoming the best you could be.
3.) You may never be fully cured, and that’s OK
Total “cures” for mental health problems are extremely rare. SUD and trauma can cause changes to the brain that may take a lifetime to heal from. And even when one heals, they will never quite be the same as they were before the drugs and trauma came into their life.
But while one might not be back to how they were, a full recovery and a life free from the substances that ruined your life is always possible. The brain might not have the same connections it once had, but it can form new, stronger pathways, given time and proper therapy.
4.) You must know when and how to relax
Anxiety and stress often come with recovery. However, they are not entirely out of one’s control. If you joined a residential or intensive outpatient rehab program, chances are that your therapist will have given you some tips on how to mitigate the worst effects of these negative emotions.
While the right strategies for relaxing are different for everyone, meditation, mindfulness, quiet time, and counseling are just some of the many options out there for constructively and sustainably removing stress and anxiety from one’s life.
5.) How to build and maintain healthy relationships
People with substance use disorder often have dysfunctional relationships with those close to them. Learning how to repair and even let go of relationships is an important part of moving forward after rehab. Understanding how to build new, fruitful relationships may also be critical for recovering individuals who do not have a supportive environment.
6.) Your physical health has a direct effect on your recovery
Regular exercise and healthy eating is a critical part of a sustainable recovery. Exercise can help reduce post-rehab depression and anxiety, stabilize one’s mood, and give a natural high. A healthy diet can help one feeling and look great as well. Taken together, diet and exercise can help build the confidence needed to stay the course and maintain one’s recovery.
7.) Things will get better
All things being equal, recovery will come with time. If you can get over the initial hump and stay the course, things will just become easier and better from there. The key is to make good mental and physical practices a habit. While that’s easier said than done, for most people who have achieved maintained their recovery, keeping good habits and ensuring one is surrounded by positive influences proved critical.
Despite what you might have thought going in, the first few months after rehab are probably going to be tough. However, a full recovery is always possible. The key is to build good habits and buy yourself the time you need to heal. It’s not going to be easy, but a life free from substances is certainly going to be worth the effort. Good luck, and be well!