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How to Stay Sober After Rehab

Being in rehab can be difficult at first, but people often find it comforting because of the controlled environment, as it allows for days of continuous sobriety. How to stay sober after rehab starts transitioning out of treatment can be tricky and many people return to their old habits, not knowing how to stay sober after rehab. There are temptations like hanging out with old using or drinking buddies or driving near places where they used to get drugs or drink. Once a client leaves treatment, the normal stresses of life and frequent temptation may return.  So, here is how to stay sober after rehab.

How to Manage Common Temptations After Rehab

After leaving rehab, you may, unfortunately, find yourself in various trigger situations that may make you want to go back to your old habits and use again. Simple things like returning to your home, seeing family members and friends, and even certain emotions can cause you to relapse. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do after rehab that will help you fight off these temptations that you come across in your daily life:

  • Modify your environment – Before you return from rehab, ask a friend or relative to remove any paraphernalia from your home. Also, try to avoid going places where you would normally go to abuse. You don’t want to enter an environment that may “trigger” you.
  • Set goals for the future – When you have future plans, it will be much easier to manage your temptations when you come across them. When you know why you want to stay sober and better your life, staying on track will be much easier.
  • Keep your follow-up appointments – If you have follow-up appointments scheduled, make sure you attend them. You may feel tempted to skip these appointments with your rehab center or doctor, but just know that missing these appointments will only hurt you. Let them help you so you don’t have to manage this new life all on your own.
  • Find a moment each day to be thankful – When you truly appreciate the new life you’ve been given, staying on track becomes a lot easier. Consider starting a gratitude journal and write down 5 things each day that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Doing this at the start of your day can set you up for success.
  • Create new, happy habits to replace the old ones – this will help with boredom, cravings and old habits. Research states that it takes between 3 weeks and 2 months to develop a new habit, and it is imperative for a newly sober person to create them as replacements to the old.

When starting your new sober life, it is also important keep your mind occupied with these new habits after rehab that are fun and enjoyable. An amazing way to keep yourself motivated through this journey is to keep reflecting to the gains you have made because of giving up on drugs, such as improved health, better relationships, improved focus, concentration, efficiency and confidence, better social life etc. Here are some examples:

  • Exercise  (creates endorphins, makes you feel better instantly)
  • Meditation/yoga (relieves stress and anxiety)
  • Play sports ( creates community, friendships and is another endorphin activity)
  • Read ( allows the mind to “take a break” from daily life)
  • Do an art project (creativity opens new pathways of healing)
  • Go back to school/take online courses (education stimulates neuropathways and gives a sense of purpose, and self-edification and confidence)
  • Plant a garden ( being outside in nature uplifts the soul, working with your hands “grounds” you)
  • Volunteer ( volunteering or “being of service” is a top activity that keeps people clean and sober for longer after rehab. There are hundreds of places that would love your help.)

Remember Why You Chose Sobriety

Of course, no one said going through rehab would be simple. And it certainly won’t be a seamless process when you leave and have to go back to your “normal” routine, learning how to stay sober after rehab. Every journey starts with a small step in the right direction. When you are feeling tempted to slip back into your old habits, remember why you decided to get sober in the first place.  Making an easier transition to the “real life” can be assisted by your center. Staying sober after rehab can come gradually. Ask if your treatment center has transition care. Many people benefit from outpatient (non-residential) programming).

Intensive Outpatient Program

Typically, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) consists of 9 weekly hours of drug or alcohol treatment programming.  The majority of that time is spent in group therapy and psychoeducational sessions.  Clients also get one on one time with their primary therapist at least once a week. An IOP Program is an important part of the client’s continuum of care not only for the sustained therapy but for the accountability of ongoing drug and alcohol testing and for the support they are able to get from their peers.

Sober Living

Returning home immediately after leaving a drug or alcohol rehab can be very dangerous.  Sober Living offers those new to recovery a structured environment in which to learn valuable life skills.  While this environment is structured, it is much less restrictive than a Residential Treatment Program.  Those new to recovery will hugely benefit from the positive peer influence obtained in a Sober Living setting and it helps with the transition of learning to stay sober after rehab.


There have been studies to show that after rehab, people stay sober longer with a continuum of care when they attend regular therapy sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Neurofeedback, family counseling, and other therapy approaches can help people recovering from addiction stay clean and sober. Psychotherapy can also treat the other mental health conditions that often contribute to drug and alcohol abuse.   Addiction is more than a physical dependence on drugs and alcohol. Even after detox, when physical dependence has resolved, addicts and alcoholics are at high risk for relapse. Psychological and social factors are often powerful stimuli for relapse.

12 Step Program, Smart Recovery or Refuge Recovery Groups

Any program which basis it’s the foundation of helping people stay sober can be essential for the alcoholic or addict, especially after leaving rehab. Programs offer continued support and growth through a philosophy of mutual aid and reliance on believing in a power greater than one’s self.  Each program offers in person and online meeting options to help you connect with others in recovery.  The crux of these groups is growth achieved through continued work on one’s self.   Through regular attendance and adherence to spiritual principles espoused in these programs, lives continue to change for the better. You also find like-minded people, which is invaluable to obtain support and achieve success.

Support Network

Possibly the most critical piece of the aftercare puzzle is the development and maintenance of a peer support network.  Most clinicians will say that human interaction and connection via sharing of personal experience fosters feelings of belonging and inclusion.  Addicts and alcoholics tend to come from lonely dark places where isolation occurs.  Isolation is the enemy of those in recovery.  In early recovery, one’s support network becomes their social circle.  It’s important that recovering addicts and alcoholics come to the realization that life in recovery can be fun and enjoyable.  While any drug addict can consider living at a sober living house, it is particularly ideal and recommended for those who lack a support system in the outside world and hence, face greater risks of relapsing. Although post-rehab life requires patients to bring some big changes in their lives, it is not advised to make too many of them at the same time. For example, one may need to shift to some other area to avoid relapse chances, moving to a completely alien city or country is not suggested. This is because making too many big changes at the same time could cause stress, anxiety, and depression, which contribute towards relapse.  

Beating the Statistics

Drug and alcohol relapse statistics show the percentage of people who will relapse after a period of recovery ranges from 50% to 90%. That is a scary statistic and is often used as a justification for someone who wants to continue with their addiction. What these numbers don’t show is that there are many things, like those listed above, that someone can do to greatly increase their chances of sobriety. Those who are more serious about aftercare greatly increase their chance of success. Unfortunately, those who are not supported after rehab are oftentimes the ones that end up returning to their addiction. Don’t be a statistic! We strive to help with these life transitions at Vogue Recovery Center in Las Vegas. Once you are a client at our residential treatment, we have qualified counselors and therapists who will work with you individually to find the best support on how to stay sober after rehab.