Too often people coming out of substance abuse treatment programs do not have strong enough support systems in place to help them maintain their sobriety. Returning home from a stint in rehab can be very stressful, as the structure that rehab provides is suddenly no longer available.
Research shows that people with a strong support system in place maintain their sobriety longer than those who do not. Here are some ways to create a support system that can work for you.
- Find friends who support your sobriety. Seems like a no brainer, but you will want to surround yourself with people who understand the importance of helping you stay sober and do what it takes to help you with that, whether it’s taking you to sober community events or being available to talk to you when things are hard.
- Try new things. Humans are hardwired to create habits and stick with them. Coming home means there’s potential to fall back into old habits that may have contributed to your substance or alcohol use. Trying new things whether it’s a new gym, hobby or activity helps you stay busy and break out of established patterns of behavior. Trying new things create a sense of excitement as well.
- Create a schedule. Creating and following a schedule may seem boring, but it can help reduce anxiety and add predictability to your days.
- Exercise. Exercising regularly helps support your mental health and helps rid the body of anxiety and tension. Exercise also gives your brain a healthy dose of serotonin, which helps alleviate anxiety and depression.
- Find a therapist. Most treatment programs are going to work with you on an aftercare plan once you leave treatment. That aftercare plan should provide a list of therapists for you to contact or they have helped connect you with a therapist before you leave treatment. Your therapist can help you continue working on your goals when you were in treatment and help hold you accountable to those goals.
- Attend meetings. Find a sponsor. Get the schedule so you can attend meetings when you feel the urge to use or need more support than usual.
- Create a self-care plan. Before you say you can’t afford weekly massages, there is more to self-care than just bodywork. Self-care also means setting healthy boundaries, saying no, and giving yourself a break. Self-care can be bodywork such as massage, acupuncture or going to regular yoga classes. It might mean scheduling regular time for walks or meeting up with loved ones. Self-care practices, ultimately are activities or practices that help you feel safe and replenished.
- Give back. Find an organization to volunteer with. Volunteering creates opportunities to see that there are people who need help whether it’s tutoring a student after school or working at a local food pantry. Volunteering can offer some much needed perspective; it offers a chance to give back to the community and expand your social circle.
These are just a few ideas to help you create your support network. Reaching out can be scary, but once you do, you’ll realize how many people are there to support you.
Staying sober is hard work–be kind to yourself, too often that inner critic can have a lot to say, but persistence and patience will go a long way to help you stay on your path of sobriety.
Sandstone Care helps teens, young adults and their families overcome challenges with substance use, addiction, and mental health issues. We want to provide the motivation, tools, steps, and community that will produce lasting outcomes.