One in 10 adults in the U.S. has gone through drug or alcohol recovery. It’s not an easy process, and there are days when the emotional aspect can be difficult. The temptation to relapse can happen to any of us due to common triggers such as:
These issues will come up during rehab, and they’ll certainly come up when you return to your daily life outside of rehab. Fortunately, your time in recovery is a great opportunity to develop habits that will help you through your treatment and long after. Whether your recovery is going well or you’re struggling to stay on track, here are 12 things you can do to get the most out of your time in rehab.
1. Keep a Journal
During rehab, you’ll spend a lot of time talking to counselors and fellow residents. Don’t be surprised if you’re also asked to keep a journal. Journal-keeping is a popular exercise in creative workshops, schools and recovery centers because it allows you to express emotions you might not reveal in public. Maybe you weren’t explicitly asked to write in a journal, but do it anyway to give yourself another release.
There’s only one rule for keeping a journal: Write consistently. Write when you’re in a bad mood or when you’re feeling good. Spend 30 minutes a day writing in your journal. You can write every single thought that enters your head during that time, about your experience or lessons you’ve learned in rehab, or even write short stories that are allegorical to how you feel at that moment. The act of writing is cathartic, and it helps you clear your head of the negative thoughts that can get in the way of recovery. It can also be a great reminder of your hard work and commitment.
2. Look Beyond Your Addiction
Alcohol and drug addiction doesn’t just happen – it’s almost always preceded by emotional reasons, mental- or behavioral-health issues, a genetic predisposition, past traumas or some combination of the above. In order to get past abusive behavior, you need to understand why it happened in the first place.
Maybe you turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with an unfulfilling job, relationship, or the effects of depression or other mental health issues. There might be a deeper reason to why you are struggling with your addiction, and rehab is a great place to resolve that issue as well.
3. Find a Memento
You might be tempted to put your addiction or recovery out of your mind after rehab, but you shouldn’t. Addiction is a part of your history, and forgetting it may lead you back to destructive behaviors. Meanwhile, your recovery represents the moment you regained control of your life. A memento will remind you of that courage and get you through moments of weakness.
Your memento could be a going-away gift from a loved one or a piece of art you made while in rehab. It could be a card from one of your sessions or even a reminder of your addiction, like the cap from your last bottle of beer. Keep it with you both through rehab and afterward. When you look at it you’ll be reminded of the strength it took to reach that point – or a period you don’t want to revisit.
4. Personalize Your Treatment
Many of us battle addiction, but we don’t all fight the same battle. Your path to recovery needs to be based on your needs and issues, not a cookie-cutter solution. Work with your counselors to create a recovery program that fits your needs.
Ideally, you’ve chosen a facility that favors individualized treatment, like 12 Keys Recovery. Take advantage of this focus. Tell the intake specialist exactly what you need from the program. This ensures you get the best treatment for you, as well as the best chance at a full recovery. If something about your program isn’t working, speak up. Your counselors want you to succeed, so they’ll do their best to provide the tools and services you need.
5. Keep a Positive Attitude
Illness can be easier to battle when the patient remains optimistic about the outcome. The same is true for recovery. Worrying about relapse or not having faith in the process is a surefire way to undermine your efforts, so try to maintain a positive attitude while you’re in rehab.
If you’re having a bad day, remind yourself of the alternative, because the worst day in recovery is better than the best day in addiction.
At the same time, balance positivity with realism. As noted in Psychology Today, too much positive thinking can make us think we have more control over the world than we really do. That may cause us to forget about the skills we need to develop in order to achieve a happy ending. Think positively, but not blindly.
6. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
It’s natural to feel like other people are better, smarter, prettier or more successful than we are. However, this tendency can make recovery harder, particularly if it brings back some of the issues that led to addiction in the first place. Instead of wanting what other people have, focus on appreciating what you already have.
If you start to envy someone else, take inventory of your life. List your friends and family, your accomplishments and the progress you’ve made during recovery. Talk about your insecurities with your counselor during one-on-one sessions. Most of all, remember that we all experience these feelings. In fact, that person whose wealth and prestige you admire may be jealous of you.
7. Make Friends
Think about how good you feel after spending time with a friend. It isn’t just emotional. A study cited by WebMD shows that people with many friends live longer than their less-popular counterparts by 22 percent. Developing strong friendships during your program leads to better physical health and a more enjoyable recovery experience.
Good friends discourage bad behavior, which can be particularly useful during recovery, when you’ll be tempted to relapse or replace one bad habit with another. If you connect with other people in recovery, turn those connections into friendships. They’ll be a source of support and inspiration during your program, and they’ll continue to get you through difficult times afterward.
It may seem impossible to turn off all the noise in your head. It’s not only possible, but necessary for a better life. Meditation:
According to one study cited in The New York Times, it can even make you more empathetic towards others. All these things make long-term sobriety easier to achieve, so take a few minutes each day to turn off, tune out and find inner peace.
It doesn’t take a lot to start meditating – some people like special mats and white-noise CDs, but you really only need a quiet place to sit. If you’re not sure how to start, there are numerous websites on the topic, or you can visit a nearby health and wellness center and create a moment of Zen with the guidance of a certified specialist.
9. Plan Your Post-Recovery Life
Your treatment will come to an end, and it can be scary to think of life without the structure and security of a recovery program. However, you’re there because you want to learn how to live a full life without drugs or alcohol. Give yourself something to look forward to by writing a plan for your life after rehab.
Think about what you want to do in the weeks, months and years following your program. Will you start volunteering or working out at a gym? Do you plan to find a support group in your area? How will you respond when you’re tempted to relapse? Create a roadmap for your life after recovery and give yourself a better chance of living it successfully.
10. Make Amends with Loved Ones
Addiction doesn’t just hurt the person using alcohol or drugs. Many friends, children and spouses have walked away from an addict because they couldn’t take the strain anymore. While in recovery, you might revisit all the times you hurt the people who love you. Use these recollections as an opportunity to make amends.
Asking forgiveness for past wrongdoings can jump-start the process of repairing a relationship. However, that’s only true if the other person is ready and willing to forgive you. Even if you don’t get what you want, making the effort at least allows you to forgive yourself.
11. Have Fun
Recovery is hard work, but that doesn’t mean fun is off limits when you’re in rehab. Taking the time to enjoy the world offers a great reminder of what a life in sobriety has to offer. When counseling and group sessions are over, take a break and enjoy yourself. At a place like 12 Keys, there are plenty of recreational activities that you can enjoy.
12. Find (or Rediscover) a Hobby
After you achieve sobriety, you might find you have more free time than you did before. You’ll spend some of that time reconnecting with friends and family. When no one else is around, though, you might get bored and think about going back to harmful habits. Finding a new hobby during recovery – or getting back into an old one – will keep you too busy to think about drugs or alcohol.
If you’re staying at 12 Keys, you can take advantage of all the water sports and other extracurricular activities available on the premises. You might discover a new passion. You could also get together with fellow residents to explore a common interest. Continue pursuing these hobbies when you’re out of rehab. For instance, signing up for a class in your neighborhood fills up your free time and puts you in touch with new friends.
Addiction recovery may be the toughest thing you ever do, but it will also be your proudest moment. You or your loved one can have a healthy, happy and fun sober lifestyle. Pick up some of these smart things to do in rehab and you’ll have a more effective recovery process, as well as a successful post-rehab life.
If you ready to start getting your life back on track at a well respected, holistic rehab, contact 12 Keys Rehab today.