Did you know that 10% of American adults have had a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives?
Having an addiction to drugs or alcohol can wreak havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. If you’ve struggled with a dependence on substances, you know full well that alcohol or drugs can all too easily become the number one priority.
While getting help from an addiction treatment center is a great start, the journey isn’t over when you walk out of rehab. In fact, many people would argue that that’s when the journey begins.
Are you wondering how to rebuild your life after addiction? Let’s take a look at how you can structure your life to be most supportive of your best self.
Learn to Forgive Yourself
After recovering from alcohol addiction or dependence on any drug, it is common to feel written with guilt and shame. Many people experience feelings of failure, self-disgust, low self-esteem, and fear. If you are experiencing any of these thoughts or feelings, you may find some comfort in the knowledge that you’re not alone.
That being said, this type of negativity can act as a hindrance to your recovery. Rather than focusing on where you feel you’ve gone wrong, focus on how much determination and strength it took for you to enter addiction recovery in the first place.
Forgiving yourself is not something you can force just because you feel like it’s something you should do. It is a real, deep process that likely won’t happen overnight. However, learning to forgive yourself and love yourself for who you are (flaws and all) is going to be an essential part of recovering from drug addiction.
Life after addiction is an exercise in patience. It’s important to remember that recovery is a journey and it’s not over when you leave the rehab center. You will continue to face challenges along the road, and some days you will feel like it’s two steps forward and one step back.
You’ll want to be compassionate and patient with yourself during this time. At the same time, your addiction has likely been difficult for your loved ones as well. You’ll also want to practice patience and understanding with your family and friends, as it may take them a while to learn to trust you again.
Create a Daily Routine
It can feel very strange to re-enter normal life after addiction. There’s a good chance that you used to spend much of your time and money on using drugs or alcohol, and now you have chosen to remove them from your life. It can feel like you have an infinite amount of time but no idea what to do with it.
One of the best things you can do is create a routine for yourself. Having a schedule can add structure to your life which is very important after recovery.
Consider creating a morning routine and a nighttime routine that you follow every day. Don’t overload yourself at first, as this can be overwhelming and lead you to bounce off of it. Instead, start small, and once you’ve successfully built a new habit you can add more to your routines.
You can create a schedule for the next day the night before, or sit down first thing in the morning and make one. You might even find you benefit from creating a schedule for the full week.
Prioritize Your Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Well-Being
Drug addiction often means that we are neglecting our whole person. Not only can it have negative repercussions for our physical health, but it can also affect us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When you are entering life after addiction, it’s important to prioritize your health in a holistic way.
Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Routine
Exercise is going to be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal after addiction. It can help to reduce your stress, improve your mood, and improve the quality of your sleep. It can also help to increase your energy levels and boost your immune symptom.
On top of all of that, exercise can help to prevent relapse according to a number of studies. This is because it can help to manage depression, stress, and anxiety, all of which are common causes of relapse.
Don’t let exercise intimidate you. You don’t have to run a marathon to experience the benefits of exercise. Scheduling a daily walk can be a great, low-stress place to start.
Prioritize High-Quality Sleep
Getting high-quality sleep is one of the most important things all people can do for their overall well-being. Not getting enough sleep can lead to physical health problems, cognitive issues, and more. There are a number of things you can do to improve your sleep health, including having a relaxing nighttime routine, keeping your room cool, quiet, and dark, and having set sleep and wake-up times.
Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated
After addiction, your body is likely hungry for actual nourishment. Focusing on eating unprocessed, whole foods can give your body the sustenance it needs to recover. By ensuring that you’re drinking enough water, you can help your body perform a long list of essential functions and improve your mood, cognition, and sleep quality.
Learn Stress Management Techniques
Stress is a normal part of life, and there’s no way to completely avoid it. In the past, there’s a good chance that you turned to alcohol or drugs to help deal with stress and anxiety. In your life after addiction, it’s important to practice healthy stress management techniques.
Here are some effective ways to relieve stress:
- Guided imagery
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Breath exercises
- Create artwork
- Spend time in nature
Remember, you can’t control what happens in life, but you can control how you respond to the things that happen.
Click here to learn about healing your brain after addiction.
Consider Engaging in Spiritual Practices You Find Meaningful
Many people recovering from substance abuse disorder have found a tremendous amount of meaning and purpose through spirituality. Whether you belong to a traditional, organized religion or you have your own personal sense of spirituality, it’s worth entertaining the idea that these types of practices could help you during your recovery.
Spirituality can help in a number of ways, including:
- Improving your sense of connectedness
- Increasing compassion, attention, and empathy
- Helping you to live a healthier life
- Making it easier to overcome hardships
- Encouraging you to work through negative emotions
You might find that attending a religious service weekly and participating in a religious community is beneficial to you. On the other hand, you might simply enjoy finding time to practice gratitude, mediation, or devotional activities.
Find New Hobbies
Now that you no longer use drugs and alcohol, you might find that you have more time than you used to. It’s a good idea to find some engaging, productive, and fun hobbies that you can participate in.
This can mean anything from mountain biking and volunteering to knitting and woodworking. Hobbies are great because they can keep you busy, help build a sense of accomplishment, and often can introduce you to a positive community.
Work to Rebuild Damaged Relationships
There is a good chance that some of your relationships suffered due to your addiction. Rebuilding these relationships will take time and hard work, but it is possible. Forgiveness and patience are essential factors in rebuilding relationships, as well as:
- Keeping your word
- Attending therapy together
- Having an open-door policy
Trust is often damaged as a result of addiction. Working to rebuild relationships will take compassion and empathy, but for those who matter to you, it will be worth it.
Consider Cutting Ties With Toxic Friends
On the other hand, there might be some relationships that are better left in the past. Old friends who also abuse drugs and alcohol can act as relapse triggers and most likely don’t want the best for you. While it’s ultimately your choice about who you keep and cut out of your life, be mindful of the dangers it poses to you to continue spending time with other addicts.
Life After Addiction: It’s Waiting For You!
There is a good chance that the process of recovering from addiction will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. While it’s not easy, you will learn with time that your new life is incredibly rewarding in a way that substances never good be. Rebuilding your life after recovering from addiction is difficult, but one day at a time you can learn to forgive, heal, recover, and grow.
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