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Life after rehab: Five things to remember

Anyone who is themselves beginning life after rehab or has a loved one who is, needs to be aware of one important thing: Rehab doesn’t fix you.

Rehab is hugely effective, life-changing and the beginning of long-term recovery for many people, but it is not the case that you attend rehab and never have to consider addiction again.

Rehab is part of an ongoing process of maintaining wellness and living without being controlled by addiction.

Addiction is a chronic illness and just as someone who is admitted to hospital with asthma or diabetes may emerge feeling stronger and renewed, maintaining that state takes ongoing commitment.

Keeping in mind some salient points is vital during life after rehab.


  • You don’t need to be ashamed


Seeking help with any problem in life takes strength and courage and that’s certainly the case with committing to get well from addiction.

There’s a tendency in our society currently to hide addiction problems and be ashamed of them, which adds to the issue. People wait too long to ask for help because they don’t want to make the ‘shameful’ admission that they have a problem.

People who are able to take the next courageous step of speaking about having been through rehab and maintaining recovery help break that taboo, smoothing the path for others to speak up and get help themselves. Even if you don’t feel able to be open about your previous problems know that by having sought help and worked hard for recovery you have no reason to feel anything but proud about that.


  • The work to stay well continues


Staying well after addiction has had you in its grip takes ongoing work and commitment.

Addiction is almost always a symptom of mental health issues whether they be post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, a mood disorder, bipolar or something else.

Staying mentally well and stable is an ongoing process for everyone and if you’ve had addiction problems it is particularly important to be conscious of your mental wellbeing and ensure you have positive coping mechanisms in place.

In rehab, you are likely to have learned and explored some wellness methods that work for you, continuing to develop and integrate those into your life will give you strength and help avoid relapse.


  • Rehab is not the end of the recovery journey


Rather than the end of the recovery process, rehab is often the beginning. Residential rehab offers a period of respite from the daily commitments of life to kickstart and focus on getting well. Just as ongoing physiotherapy may be necessary to recover from a period in hospital with a physical injury, so ongoing strengthening work is necessary to maintain the emotional equilibrium necessary for sustained addiction recovery.

Good rehab centres will work with you on aftercare programmes and support. If you’re not sure you’re getting the support you need, reach out for addiction advice ̵

1; it’s a sign of foresight and good sense, not a signal of failure.


  • It may take time for others to believe in your recovery


When people are suffering from addiction their relationships often come under huge strain or are completely shattered. One of the characteristics of addiction is putting it ahead of other things and failing to keep up with other interests, responsibilities or obligations.

Once you have been through rehab, you may be very keen to rebuild damaged relationships. It’s a worthy goal but remember the people you want to reach out to are likely to still feel hurt, let down and wary. It’s a process that takes time and consistency.

You can’t make someone reconnect with you or believe that you will not be overcome by addiction again. Take it slowly and they may come round in the end. In the meantime, you can focus on the things that are within your power – staying well, building positive habits and demonstrating that addiction is behind you.


  • Relapse doesn’t make for a hopeless case


No one wants to relapse after rehab and when it happens it can feel like all hope is gone. That is not true.

Sadly people do relapse. This can happen soon after rehab or it can happen much further down the line.

It may be that they didn’t get the correct support for them in rehab, treatment environments vary and it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. It may be that the person wasn’t truly ready to commit to recovery. It may be that life threw up something unexpected and they sought comfort in their addiction or perhaps they need more rehab support than was realised or possible previously.

It’s vital not to give up. People achieve sustained recovery after relapse and there’s no reason you can’t be one of them. Seek help again, don’t be ashamed, find the support you need and you can get back on your feet again.