Overcoming an alcohol addiction is a long and challenging process; after all, you did not become an alcoholic overnight, so it would make sense that you will not recover overnight either. The process requires a seven to ten-day detox where the physical addiction is broken, which is followed by rehab in either an inpatient or outpatient facility. But many people wonder what to do after alcohol rehab finishes. Will they just return to their normal everyday life in the hope that everything will go back to the way it was before they were addicted? Or will everything change completely?
If you have been fretting about what to do after alcohol rehab, the following paragraphs will give you some ideas of what to expect.
Rebuilding Your Life After Rehab
If you have been through a programme of detox and rehabilitation and are now back living in the ‘real’ world, it will be time to start sorting your life out again. While you may be feeling good about being sober and are no longer craving alcohol, you should proceed with caution as you are still vulnerable to a relapse, particularly within the first twelve months of treatment completion.
While your recovery should still be your number one priority and you should be involving yourself with sober groups and activities, you can also start building the life you want. There is no chance that things can simply go back to how they were before you became an alcoholic; too much has happened in your life for you and your family to just forget about things. However, you can have a much better life than before if you are prepared to put in the effort and work hard to maintain your sobriety.
There is a lot for you to think about; your health, your relationships, returning to work or education and learning how to enjoy yourself without alcohol.
Your Health in Early Recovery
When pondering what to do after alcohol rehab, it is important that you think about your health and what you can do to improve it. During detox, you may have experienced several withdrawal symptoms but while most of these will have passed, there could be some that seem to be lingering longer than you expected.
After years of alcohol abuse, your body is going to take some time to get back to normal. It is not unusual for some symptoms to linger for the first year or so. It is important to visit your GP for a full check-up once you are back to daily life after treatment. It is important that your doctor is fully aware of your history and the fact that you have completed a programme of rehabilitation.
There will probably be a number of tests the doctor will want you to have, but these will depend on your age, any symptoms you are still experiencing and the substances that you were using. It is important to keep your doctor fully aware of any new unexplained symptoms that you experience as these could be the result of damage caused by your drinking.
It is crucial that you adopt a healthy lifestyle now as this can help reduce the risk of you experiencing further problems down the road. You need to make sure you are getting plenty of fluids, plenty of healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients, and you should also keep active. Nevertheless, be careful not to do too much exercise in the early days as your body is still recovering. Speak to your doctor about a healthy eating and exercise plan.
Relationships often suffer greatly when one person struggles with any type of addiction. When it comes to alcoholism, the affected individual can be quite unpredictable and difficult to live with. Some alcoholics may be aggressive or even violent while under the influence, which can be extremely difficult for family members to deal with.
You might assume that things are going to get back to normal when you are sober, but this is rarely the case. Your loved ones will need time to adjust to the new situation. After all, they have been learning to live with an alcoholic for a long time and have adapted to your changing moods as and when these occur. Now that you are sober, they will not know what to expect. They are bound to be wary for a while and there will be a constant fear that a relapse is just around the corner.
You should not expect things to just return to the way they were before you became an alcoholic. While your loved ones are probably delighted that you are no longer drinking, there may still be a certain amount of hurt and resentment lingering under the surface; this is completely normal. You need to remember that it is going to take time for everyone, yourself included, to adjust to this new way of living.
Rebuilding bridges with children can be especially tough. If your kids are young, they may be confused as to what is going on. If no one has ever explained to them that you were ill and that they were not to blame for your chaotic and unpredictable behaviour, they may be emotionally scarred by things that have happened in the past.
It is important that you sit with your children and try to explain what has been happening and what is going to happen going forward. Give a brief explanation to younger children; reassure them that they are not to blame and that you had an illness that caused you to act the way that you did.
Older children will understand a bit better and will probably need a more in-depth explanation of the situation. You may face anger, confusion, and resentment from your teenage children, and it can be hard to know what they are thinking. Most teenagers do not like to let their parents know what is going on in their heads and where alcoholism is involved, they may close up even more.
However difficult it is to get through to your children, you must not give up. You need to do more than just tell them you are better; you need to show them this is so. It is going to take time to regain their trust but if you work hard on staying sober and show them that you can put them first, the walls may eventually come down.
The same can be said for other family members, particularly a spouse or partner. It is up to you to show your loved ones that you can be trusted to stay sober.
Once you are stronger in your recovery, you can start thinking about a return to education or work. Your addiction has probably been getting in the way of your life for a long time, and it may have affected your ability to work and earn an income. Now that you are sober, you can start to consider what you want to do with your life.
If you dropped out of school before getting any qualifications, consider returning to college or university as a mature student. Think about what you would like to do and work towards achieving these goals.
Maybe you want to return to the job you already have or perhaps you have decided that you would like a complete change of career. Whatever you decide, it is important that your recovery is stable before you make any major decisions. A significant change while your recovery is still in the very early stages could put you at greater risk of a relapse.
If you decide to return to the job you already have, you might be thinking about what you should tell your co-workers, if you have not already told them that you were in rehab. It is best to be honest about your situation. It may be the case that rumours began circling when you were absent for so long. You may also find that although you thought your secret was safe, those you worked with had already realised you had an issue.
The best thing to do is to take someone you like and respect to one side and explain that you have been in recovery. Tell them about your journey to this point and that you are working hard to stay sober and are taking things a day at a time. Ask this individual to spread the word so that you do not have to tell every single person yourself.
Another important thing to think about after rehab is staying sober. As you try to get your life back together, you are going to need to stay alert to the dangers that surround you. You should know that the threat of relapse will always be present for you, but with continued monitoring and vigilance, you can avoid it completely.
While some triggers are going to be fairly obvious, there are others that will be less so. Having a plan of action and knowing what to do when facing temptations is very important. Make sure that you have someone you can call should you feel tempted to drink. It may be a close family friend, your counsellor, or a sponsor.
Should you feel as though you want a drink, try to do something to distract yourself. Maybe you can read a book, watch a movie, or even go for a walk. Occupying your mind and body will help until the feelings pass. If you find that you are feeling the urge to drink regularly, start going to more fellowship meetings and talk to someone there about what you can do.
Remember, you can call us here at Addiction Helper for free and confidential advice and information. We can also put you in touch with a professional counsellor should you need to speak to someone about avoiding a relapse.