If you are reading this, congratulations. For some reason, this title drew you in, either for personal reasons or because you want to help a friend or family member. Regardless, if one has reached the stage of addiction recovery to start thinking about their life after addiction, congratulations are in order.
Addiction is no easy battle to win. Rebuilding a life after the toxicity of addiction is both painful and rewarding. It requires making the right choices to ensure sobriety is maintained and refusing to let addiction win. The right mindset and focus can help, especially with these practical steps to consider.
- Reevaluate Your Friendships
If there are people who are unsupportive of the positive lifestyle changes you’ve made during the recovery process, reevaluate those friendships. This is a time to focus on being surrounded by a supportive, caring community – whether it’s made up of friends, family members, or local figures, such as a pastor or a community center support system.
Additionally, a good friend is one who wants to stay the course and avoid addictive substances. They provide motivation on the hard days and don’t treat you like an addict on the rest. A good friend should not keep punishing you for mistakes made in the addiction phase if you are showing a legitimate effort to atone and overcome. If the friend is becoming another obstacle or source of pressure in recovery, it might be time to limit contact with them.
Remember, understanding addiction can be extremely difficult for those who have not experienced it. Evaluate and decide if there is a miscommunication or misunderstanding. If they are a true friend, they will support the recovery process and help you get your life back where you want it to be.
- Accept Your Past Mistakes
When under the influence of any substance, inhibitions are lower and actions can cause damage or harm to others. The past can’t be changed, but the present is up to you.
The future will shape itself out of what efforts you put forward in the now. Approach the people who deserve anapology. Acknowledge your mistakes, apologize, and show you are invested in repairing the relationship. Sometimes these words are difficult, if not impossible, to formulate. Other methods might be to write out your feelings in a letter or an email.
- Rebuild Your Career
After rehab, the looming thought of “what’s next?” might cause feelings of fear and anxiety. The future is uncertain and not easy for a former addict. The history of addiction might create new barriers to finding employment. A former college or university might not be willing to readmit you.
There are many organizations dedicated to helping recovering addicts regain their independence and confidence. Explore options and keep an open mind. Addiction does not have to be a limiting factor if you once dreamed big. You can get back there.
In rebuilding a career path, take it slow. Find the right step and pursue it, but don’t rush into something that may create triggering situations. That could bring back addiction cravings as a coping mechanism. This is where it is important to circle back to support groups and strong relationships. If you were in a recovery program, revisit that experience and those lessons.
Most of the time these places expect you to return, even if just for outpatient counseling. They can be extremely helpful in building a career network and assisting in this transition. A great example of this is the Soba College Recovery program that focuses on connecting graduates with mental health professionals, potential employers, healthcare professionals, and educational opportunities before graduates even leave the program.
- Be Patient
Just like in the recovery process, taking back your life after addiction won’t be easy. There will be more ups and downs, good days and bad days. The important thing to remember is you have made it this far.
Long-term recovery is now in your hands. Build the network, make amends where possible, and create new goals for yourself. Keep returning to counseling services, support groups, or recovery programs to keep yourself in the place you want to be.