The first step away from alcohol dependency is often the most challenging.
If you’ve finally decided to walk away from it for good, one of the biggest struggles you’ll start with is finding out where and how to begin getting your old life back. Addiction manifests in compulsive behavior that can be damaging to your relationships with family, friends, and other people who matter, including work colleagues.
But apart from making it a goal to get rid of the alcohol in your system, you may also want to start restoring relationships destroyed by addiction. Here are your keys to rebuilding yourself, your relationships, and your life after alcoholism:
- Continue Your Recovery Treatment Plan
The recovery process takes a while and doesn’t stop once you’re done with in-house therapies. Assuming a 60-day treatment program can fix everything is the same as underestimating your problem’s severity. The truth is, getting back to your life before alcoholism took over will take a little more time than you might think.
After checking out of rehab for alcohol addiction, you have to continue attending counseling sessions and perform other activities that will help you continue your journey towards healing.
Here are some of the continuing support or aftercare practices that may help sustain your progress in life after rehab:
- Working with a family therapist: Alcoholism impacts not only you but also those closest to you. Changes in relationships with family and friends during addiction are often fueled by abusive behavior, and often include stealing, lying, and cheating.
A family therapist can help you rebuild strained relationships by facilitating effective communication with each other. Family therapy sessions are usually done individually first before proceeding to sessions with the family.
- Attending regular check-ups: Making time for check-ups with a mental health expert is essential as it promotes accountability. Some can be as frequent as once a month, while others are only once a year. Either way, it helps ensure that you’re staying on your course to recovery.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate medical check-ups into your schedule. That’s because prolonged exposure to harmful substances may lead to serious side effects, such as heart problems and abnormal weight loss or gain. Keep in mind that maintaining a healthy lifestyle as you complete your rehab requires a healthy body.
- Building a social life: Activities that aren’t alcohol-centered may seem boring for recovering alcoholics. It might also be your case. However, because rehab opens many new opportunities, there’ll be many alcohol-free activities where you can find mental and social outlets. Take advantage of these new possibilities by building your social life.
Things that you can do are:
– Taking a dance or music class
– Volunteering for government or non-government humanitarian or environmental programs
– Trying out new sports
– Going to the movies with family or friends
The abovementioned continuing support programs are only some of the many aftercare activities that you can try to stay healthy and sober. Find something new and interesting that will keep you active.
- Join A Support Group
Most people think that no one can help them unless the other person has been in their shoes. This is why having a support group with members who are on the same boat, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), can help you recover more easily.
Apart from group sessions, AA provides a more focused approach by pairing you with a sponsor. Some smaller, more specific groups also exist, and they’re geared towards more diverse genders, age groups, and populations affected by addiction.
The benefits of being a part of a support group include:
- Creating new friendships with individuals who have had the same problems you’ve experienced and probably facing the same challenges too
- Having a group that can serve as your outlet as well
- Not having to feel alone in your struggles to maintain sobriety
- Learning more about recovering from addiction
- Having a clearer idea of what life can look like after complete recovery
- Getting the chance to comfortably open up about things that would otherwise be uncomfortable for you to share with family and friends
Support groups are a vital part of the healing process of alcoholics. In fact, millions of people attend support groups in the United States every year. It’s a testament to how these group meetings can be so helpful. Don’t skip an opportunity to be a part of one.
- Socialize With Loved Ones
The stigma of being addicted to alcohol and other substances has long-term effects, and it can be tempting to just hide and avoid any type of social contact.
To help yourself maintain mental resiliency, don’t forget your old support system. They’re the same people you relied on before and during your addiction – your family. Now that you’re on your way to recovery, they’re the same group you can depend on to reach your sobriety goals faster.
Your family can help you:
- Cope with stress: Most people who can easily cope with stress have strong family support. Instead of seeking negative coping mechanisms (e.g., drinking alcohol), you can talk to your loved ones about your problems.
- Boost cognitive function: Alcoholism affects the brain. The stress it creates accelerates the wear and tear of both the brain and body. Recovering addicts who want improved cognitive functions and a significantly lower allostatic load should maintain a good social relationship with family and friends after rehab.
- Improve your psychological well-being: Psychological well-being improves and becomes better when a person recovering from alcohol addiction has a good relationship with parents, siblings, as well as his/her marital partner and children. That’s because social ties provide better emotional support, not to mention it contributes to the development of a greater sense of purpose or meaning in life among those living the life after rehab.
- Engage In Productive Activities: Participate in activities that’ll help take your mind off alcohol consumption. One of the best ways to do this is by following a strict exercise regimen. Apart from providing various health benefits, exercising can help generate a positive mood by stimulating the body to produce happy hormones called endorphins.
Ideal recovery activities can be any of the following:
- Start a new hobby: Fulfill that long-held wish of tackling a hobby you’ve been curious about but didn’t have the chance to pursue while you’re inside the rehab center or before you succumbed to alcohol addiction.
- Challenge yourself: Ending alcohol abuse is an act of restoration. Why not tackle something challenging and can impact your brain and body positively at the same time? We’ve already mentioned following a strict exercise regimen. In addition to that, you can also follow a healthier diet plan, and join hiking, running, or cycling groups. Just keep in mind that your goal should be to create a better version of yourself.
- Tackle a weakness: Maybe one of the reasons you drank in the past was it makes you feel more confident. With alcohol running through your veins, you probably thought you can be better at doing things you’d normally find hard to do. So, how about taking on those things that terrify you, but, this time, no alcohol involved?
Enroll in a dance class if you struggled with dancing, especially in front of other people. It’s also a good idea to join speech groups if you’re terrified of public speaking. It’s one of the best methods in personal development for recovering alcoholics. That’s because doing something that absolutely scares you can generate a sense of accomplishment—a kind of reward that beers and liquors can never bring.
- Appreciate the real beauty around you: Addiction will divert your attention away from what’s really beautiful. One of the things that you’ve probably missed on as an alcoholic is the world’s natural beauty. Now that you’re well on your way to recovery, why not start taking in the beautiful things in your surroundings? No, it doesn’t mean traveling abroad and going on a trip to exotic destinations. Sometimes, all you need to do is go to the nearest botanical garden, go on a nature tripping, or if you love art, visit art galleries.
Opening yourself to the beauty that surrounds you may help you acknowledge your own purpose. For anyone battling alcoholism, the biggest hurdle is finding activities that won’t trigger cravings. The truth is that you can do so many exciting things that don’t involve alcohol, you just need to look closely around you.
Engage in anything that makes you happy or challenged instead of reaching for a bottle. It’s one of the keys to recovering completely from addiction.
- Work On Mending Your Relationships With Colleagues
When a person becomes addicted to dangerous substances, they tend to engage in risky and erratic behaviors that could put their relationships in jeopardy. You probably remember losing all your inhibitions and engaging in questionable behavior. This creates trust issues within family and friends, which often leads to a strain that will take time to repair. Again, this is where family therapy sessions can make a difference. Spending more time with your loved ones can help rebuild your relationship with them.
However, excessive alcohol and substance use not only impact your relations with loved ones but with work colleagues, too. If this is your case and you want to resume employment in the same company after treatment, find ways to mend your relationships at your workplace.
- Find A New Job
One of the best ways to divert your attention away from alcohol is to keep yourself busy with job responsibilities. However, if you lost your job because of addiction, looking for a new one may be difficult once you’ve gotten out of rehab. That’s because there’s still a stigma against any kind of addiction in modern society.
If you’ve just got out of the rehab center and would like to find a new job, take heart. Below are tips that can help you improve your chances of getting hired:
- Seek legal advice: consider seeking legal advice regarding discrimination as provided for by the law. Specific laws protect impaired persons, including those recovering from substance and alcohol misuse, against discrimination. As long as the disorder does not cause impediments to an applicant’s competence and work performance, they should be equally considered for a job position.
- Apply through government assistance programs: There are assistance programs that the state and most local governments offer as their way of helping individuals in recovery get a job. In these programs, you have to undergo training and work with employment experts before submitting your applications to companies that are suitable for your skills.
- Consider freelancing: Stress could be a potential trigger for relapse. That’s why a part-time job may be a better option, especially if you fear that you can’t handle the responsibilities that come with full-time work.
- Let go of or at least lower your expectations: Letting go of your expectations or keeping them low may present more job opportunities that you may never have before.
- Ask the members of your support group to be your reference: Individuals who assisted you in your recovery can be positive references to potential employers. Talk to your therapist, counselor, or doctor and ask their permission.
The most important thing to remember when applying for a job is to never get discouraged. Always remember that with confidence and hard work, you’ll be bound to land a role you’ll love in a company you want to work for, regardless of your past.
- Avoid All Forms Of Temptation
This may be easier said than done. Refusing alcohol, especially when everybody else has access to it, requires the highest level of self-control and discipline. In fact, it’s said that one-third of individuals in recovery fall into a relapse due to peer pressure.
Choose who you’re letting into your life. The right friends should always have your best interests at heart. A real friend will never offer alcohol and illegal substances to their friend who’s recovering from addiction.
At the same time, maintain a strong resolve to rid yourself of toxic people and bad influences. Refuse any form of temptation and stick to your decision to get better no matter what.
Alcohol addiction represents a dark chapter in one’s life, but you don’t have to let the stigma scar you forever. Choose to move forward by starting with a clean slate. It is no doubt challenging, but not impossible with enough determination and a strong support system.