What Happens After Rehab?

woman walks along the beach to consider what her life will be like after drug and alcohol rehab

Table of Contents

What to Expect After You Complete Rehab

Addiction treatment is exactly that; it is a treatment process- not a cure. Ensuring that you have success in long-term recovery takes work and dedication, even after leaving rehab.

The treatment is given to help individuals gain more control over their actions and, therefore, their lives. 

But many have the question: what happens after rehab?

The truth is, what happens after rehab depends on you. We’ve got a lot to share with you on this topic.

Call now to ask questions about treatment for yourself or a loved one. Our helpline is free and confidential. Call (888) 906-0952!

What if I Relapse After Rehab?

Many people say that relapse is a part of recovery, and that is true for some people. However, relapse does not have to be a part of your story. It’s natural to experience a fear of relapse after completing a drug and alcohol treatment program.

If you relapse after rehab, it’s not the end of the world. The most important thing you can do at that point is to turn back for help. Relapse does not mean that any treatment you have been through has failed.

Addiction is a chronic disease, and some people relapse; it can be part of the process. The rates for relapse in drug and alcohol addiction are pretty similar to the relapse rates for other chronic medical conditions.

Remembering Your Relapse Prevention Plan

In many of your treatment plans, you will be taught that many things can lead to drug use. Usually, it is found that stress is a leading factor to relapse, returning to the people, places, and things that were involved in previous drug use. And still being in contact with drugs are all common reasons or triggers for relapse.

The therapy programs are meant to help teach those suffering from addiction to avoid people and certain situations linked to your previous drug use or temptation to use.

An addiction recovery aftercare is important to follow. Just like when you get a piercing or tattoo, you follow the aftercare instructions. Why? So that you don’t get an infection and so your body can stay healthy, and you don’t have to get the piercing or tattoo again. It is the same with addiction recovery aftercare- follow the instructions given.

You Must Do These Things

Individual Therapy

When you have completed a treatment center’s program, you should continue with individual counseling so that you can continue to talk out and understand your disease.

Individual drug counseling focuses on reducing or stopping your intake of drugs or alcohol use, but it also discusses related areas that you may struggle to function.

Like employment status or family and social relations, you learn short-term behavioral goals. Your counseling will help you continue developing coping strategies and tools to stay away from drugs and maintain your abstinence. Or, if you need referrals to different things like medical, psychiatric, employment, and any other services you may need- your counselor can provide that for you.

Outpatient Treatment is a Good Option

It would help if you also continued with outpatient treatment. It is less intensive than when you were participating in an inpatient program. In an outpatient program, you will probably visit a behavioral health therapist on a regular schedule.

This regular meeting gives you as a patient more flexibility since they will no longer be living in a treatment facility. This way you can maintain other responsibilities, like family and work.

Group Therapy and Support Groups

Group counseling is important and can be very beneficial to the patient when they are returning to normal life because it is a social reinforcement with peer discussion that helps to promote drug-free lifestyles.

Going to 12-step meetings such as AA or Narcotics Anonymous is also a key aspect for continued recovery for most people suffering from addiction.

Those who participated in 12-step meetings have been found to complete treatment and abstain from drugs after treatment.

How Do I Help Someone Who Just Got Out of Rehab?

There are many ways you can be there for a loved one after rehab. Although it may be difficult, being there for your loved one is important for you and them.

Keep in mind that every relationship history is different. If you have an overwhelmingly negative history and there’s a lot of broken trusts, it can take time to heal.

You are in no way obligated to do all of these things, but these are general tips that for sure make a difference. If you feel comfortable enough to do these things, it makes a difference.

Quick Tips to Help Someone Who Just Got Out of Rehab

  1. You should be there for them without judgment.
  2. Find new activities that you enjoy doing together. Healthy activities are incredibly beneficial as long as they don’t involve drugs and alcohol.
  3. Offer rides to counseling, outpatient treatment, and support groups.
  4. Review their relapse prevention plan and ask them how they are doing with living up to the plan.
  5. Remind them to take any necessary medication properly.
  6. Give reassurance always. Let your loved one know that you are thinking of them and want to be there for them in their recovery.
  7. Help them return to normal life by supporting them in a job search or finding a place to live.
  8. Help them avoid places and people that may tempt drug and alcohol use.
  9. Encourage them to be open with you about their feelings and cravings. If they are opening up to you about these things, please do not use it against them later or share the information with other people.
  10. Be understanding, especially if they relapse, and get them into a treatment program quickly to avoid it worsening.

But also remember that taking care or being there for someone recovering from addiction to support yourself. Caring for someone who is recovering can take a lot out of a person. Although it can be rewarding, it is also challenging, and stress from caregiving is common. So be sure to support your loved one in addition to yourself.

A Recap of The Drug and Alcohol Rehab Experience

Most residential inpatient treatment centers are structured and organized, and most have similar activities and therapies. The consistency minimizes stress and uncertainty among those that are partaking in the therapy.

It also allows for the safest and most supportive environment for healing patients and their recovery. The only thing that varies between these treatment centers is the amenities and services offered may be different.

Understanding the structure in rehab and then bringing that structure to the outside world in some capacity is extremely important! 

Healthy Habits: Starting off the Morning Right

Inpatient programs focus on starting the morning right, fueling the body, and getting productive. Sleeping in is not an option for the program. They will likely wake you up early and get you started for an early day and a good, healthy breakfast.

Some treatment centers offer activities to do in the morning like yoga or meditation, so that you can begin your day in a relaxed state of mind and body.

A large goal in these programs is to help the patient develop new and healthy habits so that they will continue it with a comfortable amount of confidence when they leave the program.

After breakfast, typically, a group session is led by a counselor or therapist that will focus on topics related to your treatment process. This treatment process is usually the 12-step program.

The Work Doesn’t Stop When You Graduate: Please Continue Therapy.

An important part of the therapy is focused on gaining clarity about the issues, and the people or environment surrounding your life and have fueled the urge for alcohol or other drugs.

The daily meeting that is presented to patients is in a controlled therapeutic environment for everyone’s safety. The therapy is meant to help you recognize patterns or triggers in your behavior and daily life so that you can avoid them post-treatment.

In the afternoon, there is another daily therapy. However, this one is a more intensive treatment. You will be provided with a healthy lunch and then begin a series of therapeutic sessions. There are a couple of different kinds of therapy sessions that are available to the patient.

There is individual behavioral therapy which is one of the most effective methods of treatment. It discusses your behavioral responses to specific triggers. When these triggers have been identified, the therapist will then help the patient to guide them towards new and positive responses to those triggers.

Individual therapy is a one-on-one therapy session that provides a safer and more comfortable environment for the patient. They may feel free to open up and share their fears, questions, and concerns in this environment.

The ability to be open gives the therapist a better understanding of their situation. Therapists can then provide the patient with the proper tools and alternative behavioral responses to cravings and triggers. 

Group therapy is another option. Group sessions provide a feeling of friendship or fellowship, as all the patients in the group session are going through a similar journey. They understand the struggles you will be going through, making the patient feel less alone to know that they aren’t alone.

It has been seen that it is highly beneficial to patients to share their personal stories with the others in the group to help all with the emotional healing of this disease. Group members in this type of therapy usually feel fellowship during the weeks while they are in rehab.

Positive relationships in group therapy help the patients become more trustful and grow to be more open in more sessions. It’s a normal part of the process to develop compassion and understanding for the battles of others. 

Specialized sessions are another type of therapy that can be done. These sessions are specifically tailored to things that the patient may want to focus on exclusively. Examples include anger management, stress management, grief counseling, etc.

They offer some coping techniques to improve the patient’s ability to handle issues in a controlled and appropriate matter rather than feeling the urge to use drugs and alcohol and do it.

Family therapy can be a very important treatment. Most drug and alcohol treatment programs provide family therapy because it is a vital element of recovery. Addiction affects the user’s entire family, so it is important to redevelop those connections.

Families can provide negative or destructive codependency, which can make people feel anger or resentment. In family therapy sessions, many issues are discussed and resolved as well as feelings are also addressed for long-term success.

Family participation is vital and factors heavily in future support for the patient when they are discharged. A person suffering from addiction needs all the support they can get when they are in recovery so they can have a successful recovery without relapsing.  

In addition to all of these therapy options, some rehab centers also host speakers to come and speak to the patients in their program about their personal stories. These speakers may also discuss questions patients may have, like finding work and keeping a job or rebuilding a career after treatment.

Or they may also offer inspirational speeches to help lift the spirits of the patients and make them feel less alone.

Give Yourself Free Time (But Not too Much)

There is also free time available in rehab. Different centers offer different amenities for the patient to participate in. There may be activities like ping-pong, basketball, sports, swimming pools, etc.

However, a patient is free to do what they would like with the free time provided, such as reading or writing, or others may choose to do prayer and meditation.

In the evening, patients are provided dinner, and then there may be a short therapy session available. Most 12-step programs are available in the evenings. These meetings give you a safe and anonymous environment where the feeling of friendship may be granted, similar to group therapy.

Continue Healthy Sleeping Habits

Finally, bedtime is recommended to be at a reasonable time; again, growing healthy habits. By getting the proper amount of sleep, you are giving yourself the ability to be more alert and have more energy to participate in regular treatment more actively.

What Happens After Rehab is Unique for Each Individual

When you have completed rehab, you’ve probably already developed an aftercare plan. The most important thing you can do is stick to that aftercare plan.

Aftercare plans are not made one-size-fits-all (or at least they shouldn’t be), and yours was likely made with an individual therapist or in a group setting with you specifically in mind.

Therefore, what life looks like after rehab is different for each individual. No matter what your recovery plan has for you, remember to continue attending individual therapy, support groups, and continue the healthy living habits you learned.

Bring the good with you to the outside world, and it will help you adapt to life, as difficult as it can sometimes be.

Of course, you cannot do all of the things you did in rehab, but you can ensure that you tend to your recovery each day.

Have questions about addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one? Give us a call at (888) 906-0952

Sources of Information

[1] Drugabuse.gov: Types of Treatment Programs
[2] Drugabuse.gov: Treatment and Recovery
[3] NIH: Efficacy of 12-Step Meetings

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