What to do after alcohol rehab

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There are many challenges involved in the transition from an inpatient rehabilitation facility to daily life.

Recovery is a long-term process. Alcohol rehab is just one step in the journey to staying sober after alcohol rehab. [1] 

To maintain sobriety after alcohol rehab, create a long-term recovery plan with an addiction specialist that keeps you focused on maintaining your sobriety.  

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 
  • Instil healthy habits and daily routine 
  • Keep yourself away from possible alcohol triggers to relapse 

Two months after rehab 

  • Join alcohol rehab aftercare and support groups 

Three months after rehab 

  • Work with therapists and counsellors 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 
  • Find new healthy ways to live a life of sobriety 
  • Evaluate progress in rehab aftercare programmes 

How to help a recovering alcoholic after rehab? 

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

To help a recovering alcoholic, contact a therapist, a substance abuse counsellor, and a 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 

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 

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. 

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 post-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 looking for post-treatment care, Abbeycare Scotland or Abbeycare Gloucester can help you settle into your new life after alcohol rehab. 

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete 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. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.