Life After Addiction | How to Transition Back to Normal Life After Treatment

Life after addiction

It’s possible to have a life after addiction — you just have to know what to do.

One important thing to understand about addiction and recovery is that it’s a lifelong journey. Asking for help and receiving treatment are just the first two steps. 

The real challenge comes when it’s time for life after addiction. And with that challenge comes reward. It also takes commitment, motivation, and finding the resources to support you on your journey.

Life after addiction

Life After Addiction — Where Recovery Begins

For many people with drug and alcohol use disorders, the early stages of the recovery process occur within an inpatient or residential rehabilitation program.

Inpatient and residential rehab programs offer 24-hour structure and support. On average, these programs last 28 to 30 days. After this, it’s common to transition into a step-down program.

Beginning a Step Down Program

After a person has become medically stabilized and received intensive support within an inpatient or residential rehab program, transitioning into a lower level of care is often recommended.

This might include:

  • day treatment (also known as partial hospitalization)
  • intensive outpatient treatment
  • general outpatient

Each person’s needs are different.

People with a history of chronic substance use or a co-occurring mental health disorder, for instance, may be recommended day treatment or an intensive outpatient program.

Step-down programs typically take place at a rehab center or clinic. Here, you might attend treatment for anywhere from a couple hours a week to several days a week for much of the day.

What You Find in Step Down Treatment Programs

What you’ll find in a step-down program for drug or alcohol recovery will vary depending on the rehab facility.

Common treatment services offered include:

Some treatment programs also offer opportunities to participate in fun sober activities. 

For instance, going to the movies, going to an art studio, or going out to eat with others who are also navigating early recovery.

Finding Social Support in Life After Addiction

Rebuilding and forming new social connections is an essential component of life after addiction. 

People don’t heal alone, and you don’t have to overcome early hurdles in recovery—such as drug cravings, urges to drink, or other triggers—in isolation either.

Humans are naturally social creatures. Addiction thrives in isolation. Rebuilding old friendships and making amends with people you’ve hurt in the past takes time.

But there’s also the opportunity to form new, healthy relationships with others who have faced a battle similar to yours. 

There’s comfort in camaraderie—being able to talk openly and honestly with someone about where you’ve been without judgment, because you know they’ve been there, too.

Returning to Work in Recovery

Everyone’s employment situation is different. Maybe you were able to take a leave off work while you sought treatment. Maybe you had to leave your job or are unable to work.

Feeling anxious about the prospect of returning to work is normal. This is a sign that you care about maintaining your progress and don’t want to see that slip away.

If you’re looking for employment after treatment, consider:

  • Seeking out local employment assistance services
  • Asking your existing network about job openings
  • Thinking hard about what you want your next job to look like

Recovery is a journey of exploration and opportunity. Just because you have a certain skill set doesn’t mean you have to return to what you did before. 

Ask yourself: What do you want out of a new job? What kind of work would feel meaningful to you? 

Many treatment centers also offer employment assistance. This can be helpful for people who have existing barriers in their job search, such as a criminal history.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In the absence of a clear or certain path forward, that’s how you can get closer to where you want to be.

Tips For Transitioning Back to Normal Life After Addiction Treatment

Transitioning back into what one might call a ‘normal life’ after addiction isn’t always easy. 

Here are some general tips for making this early transition:

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Check in with yourself often.
  • Get established with an outpatient treatment team ASAP.
  • Build a structured routine for yourself.
  • Find sober activities you enjoy—and stick with them!
  • Don’t neglect your treatment, even if you think you’ll be “just fine” without it.
  • Take each day one day at a time.
  • If you’re struggling, don’t wait for things to get worse before you seek help

Sometimes there are demons at home you might not want to face. Substance use disorders can affect all aspects of a person’s life: from your relationships, to work, school, and who you hang out with.

Recovery is a journey of progress, not perfection. Mistakes happen. Consider these to be learning opportunities, not failures. 

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. And have hope. You’ve made it this far.

Learn more about life after addiction at AddictionResource.Net

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McKenna Schueler

McKenna Schueler is a content specialist for AddictionResource.Net, an informational content guide serving individuals and their families who struggle with addiction, substance use disorders, and mental health disorders. McKenna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Florida in English, with a minor in Psychology.