Staying sober isn’t easy, and some of your toughest challenges will occur after you leave the rehab center. Relapse rates can be as high as 85 percent during the first year of recovery, which is why it’s important to have a solid aftercare plan in place once you finish your initial treatment.1
Aftercare can involve a number of different services and resources such as continued counseling, sober living homes, 12-step programs and more. In this post we’ll look at some of the typical challenges of staying sober, and we’ll talk about sober living homes and other types of aftercare programs.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and recovery is a lifelong journey. Real life brings temptations and pressures that can make it difficult to stay clean. If you’re having trouble staying sober, a few basic tips can be helpful:
- Take one day at a time: You’ve probably heard this saying many times, but there’s truth to the idea. Worrying about anything beyond today can be overwhelming and might create the urge to escape; it’s these feelings that often lead to relapses.
- Take care of yourself: Staying sober is easier when you feel good. Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising and making time for hobbies are all important forms of self-care.
- Build a solid support system: Not everyone has supportive family members they can count on, but there are other ways to build a reliable recovery network. Sober friends, 12-step programs, and fellow residents of a sober living home can all provide valuable friendship and support.
Dealing with Triggers
Part of the recovery process is learning how to manage triggers. There will be times when you experience cravings, and there will be times you encounter people, places or events that make you want to drink or use again.
It’s important to be aware of your triggers and prepare for how you’ll handle them.2 Do some role-playing, even if it’s just in front of a mirror, and rehearse what you’ll do when you get the urge to use again.
Another way to handle triggers is to avoid testing yourself in the first place. If walking past a bar is a trigger for you, then avoid routes that take you past a bar. It’s tempting to check the strength of your recovery with these little tests, but your sobriety is more important.
Aftercare and Sober Living Homes
While 12-step programs, therapy sessions and support groups can be powerful aftercare options, sometimes these aftercare programs aren’t enough. You need a safe place where you can rediscover yourself and learn how to navigate your new lifestyle.
Sober living homes provide support and structure that can help you make the transition from rehab to independent living. Community is an integral part of life at a sober living home, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who share similar goals and challenges.
Alcohol or drugs might have controlled your life before, but you’re in the driver’s seat now. With a good aftercare plan and support system in place, you can build yourself up and begin your new, sober life.