What to do after alcohol rehab

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To maintain sobriety after alcohol rehab, create a long-term recovery plan with a specific treatment provider that keeps you focused on maintaining your sobriety.  Recovery process happens in the long-term. Rehab for alcohol is just one step in the journey to staying sober after alcohol rehab. [1] 

Here is what to do after alcohol rehab: 

The first 30 days 

  • Learn to settle in your new environment 
  • Eat a healthy diet and have regular exercise 
  • Take supplements to curb addiction cravings 

A month after rehab 

  • Finding a safe and peaceful place to live away from temptations 
  • Instill healthy habits and daily routine 
  • Keep yourself away from possible alcohol triggers to relapse 

Two months after rehab 

  • Join alcohol rehab treatment centers and support groups with the support of treatment providers

Three months after rehab 

  • Work with treatment providers on behavioural and motivational therapy 
  • Discuss professional and future goals with a life of sobriety 
  • Get a new hobby 

Six months after rehab 

  • Socialise with sober friends and family members 
  • Get medical assistance in times of emergencies 

12 months after rehab 

  • Join alcoholic groups and share your successful recovery in specific treatment centers
  • Find new healthy ways to live a life of sobriety 
  • Evaluate progress in rehab aftercare treatment centers 

How to help a recovering alcoholic after rehab? 

Supporting a recovering alcoholic can be done by prioritising your safety and happiness with professional treatment advice and peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. [2] 

To help a recovering alcoholic, contact a therapist, a substance abuse counsellor, and a certified addiction professional rehabilitation provider.  

Here’s how to help an alcoholic after rehab:  

  • Learn about addiction and recovery 
  • Be prepared for extended problems 
  • Do not have unreasonable expectations 
  • Make changes to support sobriety 
  • Do not go so far as to be unfair to yourself 
  • Arrange a safe living environment.  
  • Instil healthy habits and routines. 
  • Help them find a purpose 
  • Socialise with sober friends.  
  • Get support in a specific treatment facility.

Stick to a recovery plan. A recovery plan will help a recovering alcoholic to avoid relapse. [3] 

How to deal with an alcoholic after rehab? 

To deal with an alcoholic after rehab means offering support and encouragement whilst recovering from addiction.

It is crucial to set boundaries and avoid enabling. 

Here is how to help them: 

  • Stay away from temptations 
  • Counsel their stressors, anxiety and depression 
  • Find a therapist for their emotions and mental health 
  • Find healthy ways to express their emotions 

Support is also available with aftercare programmes such as the AA. [4] 

Community-based rehabilitation alternatives an alcoholic can take are:  

  • Individual therapy 
  • Group support 
  • 12-step programmes 
  • Community volunteering 
  • Counselling 

Community-based rehabilitation alternatives an alcoholic can take are:  

Individual therapy

Seeking assistance as an individual might be an ideal way to share thoughts, triggers and elements that lead you to drink.

Group support 

In addition to getting comprehensive moral support in group programs, group counselling motivates you not to quit in your journey to sobriety

12-step programmes 

12-step programs is a holistic model that helps recovering alcoholics stay away from elements that cause drug and substance addiction

Community volunteering 

Volunteering is the opposite of alcohol addiction. When you participate in community activities, the chances of reverting to addiction get significantly low

Counselling 

Working with a professional boosts your chances to attaining full recovery.

Can you drink alcohol after rehab? 

You should not drink alcohol after rehab. Total alcohol abstinence is an integral part of maintaining long-term recovery.

One drink might trigger a relapse, reinitiating alcoholism. [5] 

In their first year of sobriety, 60 to 90 per cent of persons who try to stop drinking will fall into relapse.

While the first years in recovery can be the most difficult, the relapse rate decreases over time. [6] [9] 

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 21.4 per cent of recovering alcoholics relapsed in their second year, but only 9.6 per cent relapsed in years three through five, and only 7.2 per cent relapsed after five years in recovery. [7] 

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health study indicates that more than 70% of those battling alcoholism will relapse at some time. 

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How to stay sober after rehab? 

Up to 80% of people who achieve long-term sobriety have had at least one relapse. It takes more than willpower and good intentions to stay sober.[8] 

Here are tips to help you stay sober in your life after rehab:  

  • Identify your personal triggers 
  • Recognise warning signs of relapse 
  • Prepare for post-acute withdrawal syndrome (paws) 
  • Avoid old habits and routines 
  • Building healthy relationships 
  • Create a structured schedule 
  • Focus on healthy living 
  • Focus on your finances 
  • Learn from past mistakes 
  • Celebrate milestones 

If you’re recovering from drug and substance abuse disorder, you already know how daunting it can be to get there. It might seem that a relapse might be the last thing that can happen to you, but the truth is that relapses are common for people near recovery.

Based on recent research, over 80% of people who achieve long-term sobriety experienced at least one relapse along the way. The effort to avoid relapse is certainly good, but it takes more than willpower to prevent having a relapse.

For some recovering alcohol addicts, however, staying sober isn’t that straightforward. The more strategies you learn to identify triggers, manage stress and handle your new sober life will help prevent relapse.

Identify relapse warnings

A relapse might affect you, often because it is difficult to identify the signs of relapse. At a glance, the three phases of relapse include the emotional stage, mental and physical relapse.

Warning signs include reverting to addictive thought processes, engaging in compulsive habits and getting involved in situations that involve addicts who use drugs and alcohol.

You might find yourself in a place where drugs or alcohol seem like a quick fix from temporary pain, and you think less rationally and behave less responsibly.

Watch personal triggers

Identifying relapse warnings is a significant part of watching external signs, including people, places, situations, and elements that trigger cravings associated with substance abuse.

It also includes internal feelings, thought processes and emotions associated with drug and substance abuse. Upon identifying the most significant triggers, you establish a plan to prepare and stay away from them.

Common triggers include stress, emotional swings, people discouraging you from rehab, relationship, financial and work-related problems.

Avoid situations that tempt you to drink

For some, it’s ideal to completely stay away from tempting situations, given that people who’ve just begun their recovery journey are more vulnerable than those who’ve maintained long-term sobriety.

 While you may have recovered from your old habits, it might be slightly hard to resist temptation. If you are in an environment where some drinking is inevitable – like a holiday or a party with friends – there are a couple of things you could do to avoid temptations.

Surround yourself with people who do not tempt you to drink. Ideally, you might want to accompany a sober friend. Always have a non-alcoholic beverage to ensure you’re occupied and keep your time at the party at the very minimum.

In addition to arriving late, leave immediately you begin feeling the urge to drink.

Make a post-treatment plan

It is crucial to develop a plan to maintain long-term sobriety at the end of your inpatient rehab program or outpatient rehabilitation.

Ideally, work with your initial treatment provider to define how you’ll stay on track and maintain long-term sobriety. This might include continuing with alcohol treatment to improve your chances of keeping off drugs and alcohol.

Aside from practicing a healthy lifestyle, connect with health care professionals, friends and family members who encourage you to stay sober.

Some alcohol treatment programs also offer treatment support through your life after rehab, often termed as continuing care, aftercare, recovery support treatment centers and support groups typically overseen by medical professionals.

Build healthy relationships with sober people

It’s not just people you drink with or drug dealers who create a downright toxic environment. Sometimes the closest people can contribute to a relapse.

Although your past relationships could not have been utterly unhealthy, research has shown that maintaining such relationships might increase your chances of relapse.

To minimize the chances of relapse, it’s crucial to develop and maintain healthy relationships by getting new friends, joining a specific treatment center and support groups and spending more time with family.

You can also create a more satisfying lifestyle that helps you avoid situations you would typically drink.

Prepare for occurrence of post-acute withdrawal symptoms

Depending on alcoholism and drug dependence, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last from six months to one year.

It comes with a broad range of symptoms, including irritability, sleep disorder, prolonged depression and irritability.

Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal can be a barrier to recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. Aside from being able to identify them, it is crucial to know when to seek help.

If the symptoms are severe and prolonged, a medical professional can advise how to work on them and move to recovery without the possibility of relapse.

Focus on your financial health

Financial troubles and work-related stress are some of the top triggers for relapse. Although it is possible to have had problems with work responsibilities, maintaining employment and managing money, it is possible to rework your finances and set everything in order.

If you were an alcohol addict for some particular period, the chances are that you might have had financial challenges. Keep in mind, however, that those rectifications won’t happen overnight.

Once you complete your alcohol rehabilitation program, create a workable budget and develop baby steps to safeguard your finances.

Deal with your past mistakes

Most addicts making their way to full recovery go through a lot of pain and suffering in their wake. Feeling guilty or shameful for a past action during active addiction is pretty awful but a good sign that you’re on your way to full recovery.

Shame drives negative perceptions about your self-worth, and guilt gives you negative feelings about your past habits.

If these emotions propagate, they can hold you back from successful recovery. If you try to maintain a sober lifestyle with toxic feelings, you can relapse if you don’t manage them properly.

To avoid relapse and achieve full recovery, take the necessary steps to learn from past mistakes and begin to live a more sober life.

Be ready if relapse occurs

Relapse doesn’t mean you’ve failed in your alcohol addiction treatment program. In most cases, relapse means that you’re on your way to full recovery.

Plan on actionable steps to take if you experience relapse. It should include people to contact, support groups to attend, health care providers to communicate with and family members. Having an actionable plan can quickly help in finding support to get back to treatment.

About alcohol abuse recovery

An alcohol rehab program may last for almost 90 days, depending on the inpatient's' needs. After detoxifying their blood, inpatients would experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms within two weeks or more. Many inpatients' experience severe headaches, anxiety or total blackouts as they stop taking alcohol, so it’s best to have professionals around.

Inpatients must be trained to manage withdrawal symptoms, reconnect with their families, and cultivate new, healthier habits to achieve full alcohol abuse recovery.

If you’re looking for treatment care through your life afet rehab, Abbeycare Scotland or Abbeycare Gloucester can help you settle into your new life after alcohol rehab. 

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Last Updated: November 1, 2021

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.