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What Happens In Life After Rehab?

The short answer to what happens in life after rehab is absolutely anything. But someone just leaving residential treatment, or even outpatient treatment, is probably looking for a more satisfying answer. Going from structured schedules and strict routine to a completely open-ended life of one’s choosing can be completely overwhelming. The good news is, there are several actionable steps to take after leaving rehab that can provide exactly the kind of transition someone looking to advance their recovery needs.

Life After Rehab: Finding A Job

For some, a stay in rehab accompanies a loss of employment. While it’s easy to dread what can sometimes be an incredibly arduous job search after leaving rehab, there’s no reason to. In fact, when viewed properly, looking for employment can be exactly the stress-test that the freshly-recovered individual needs to make the most of their new coping strategies and their free time.

What’s more, being employed can be extremely beneficial to the individual in recovery: aside from its ability to pay the bills, studies have shown that work can improve mental health and even help alleviate the effects of an illness. For some basic tips on how to re-integrate into the workforce after rehab, just peruse the list below:

  • Freshen up the resume. A list of one’s previous education and employment, resumes are perhaps the single most important way to show off one’s skills in the early stages of a job search. If you’re struggling to put yours together, consider visiting your local library: many offer career services and will be able to help. Be prepared to answer questions about any gaps that might be on a resume, such as time spent in rehab, but don’t stress over the subject. In this day and age, a little time spent out of the workforce is extremely common. Many employers likely won’t bat an eye.
  • Attend job fairs. Doing an internet search for “job fairs near me” could produce a list of job fairs, events where employers provide information about their companies and available positions to prospective applicants. They can be face-to-face or virtual and give the opportunity to learn a little about a lot of different jobs in just a short amount of time. Consider them like speed dating for someone just re-entering the workforce.
  • Visit websites for jobseekers. Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster exist for virtual networking and allow the user to send their resume to a large amount of positions in a short amount of time. This means one can look for employment from the comfort of one’s own home. With different filters for categories of employment, including local and remote employment, there’s almost no end to the listings on these websites (which is why it might be smart to set a maximum amount of time to spend on these websites per day!)

The skills learned in rehab can only make one a better employee come life after rehab. If anything, the inner growth experienced in recovery is a huge asset to a potential employer!

Life After Rehab: Managing Cravings And Triggers

Cravings and triggers don’t magically disappear the day one is discharged. Instead they stick around, often making familiar friends and old hangouts into pitfalls for the recovering addict. That’s why, rather than try to bring new skills or a fresh perspective to an old and dysfunctional situation, it’s best to just avoid triggers entirely in life after rehab. Whether it’s the neighborhood bar down the street or the “friend” who was always there to drink or get high with, triggers from one’s former life should be cut out as much as possible.

Having said that, for many there’s no choice but to move back into old circumstances after rehab. And cravings and triggers can happen at any time, regardless of one’s surroundings. That’s why it’s important to practice mindfulness, an incredibly powerful way to stay present and peaceful, in life after rehab. Below are just a few exercises that could help navigate a craving or a trigger post-rehab:

  • Practice deep breathing. Breathe all the way into the diaphragm through the nose, feeling the belly expand as air moves into the bottom of the lungs. Hold the breath for a moment, then exhale slowly through the mouth. Do this as many times as is needed to relax.
  • Practice a grounding exercise. Take a look at the room or the general surroundings. Notice 5 things that can be seen, 4 things that can be felt, 3 things that can be heard, 2 things that can be smelled, and 1 thing that can be tasted. Getting in touch with the senses can get one out of one’s head, making cravings and triggers more manageable.
  • Practice guided visualization. Try imagining a pleasant beach, or a verdant forest, or a warm log cabin covered in snow. Again, focus on the sensory nature of the experience, trying to make the image as real as possible. This can be an incredibly powerful way to relax the nervous system and create a feeling of safety, something crucially important in early recovery.

Get Support

No one should have to go through recovery on their own, no matter where one is in the process. Find an individual counselor, a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery, or a good friend or family member to lean on. Sometimes just talking about one’s problems is enough to make them better, and it always helps to have a listening ear. Groups, especially those like AA and SMART Recovery, can provide ironclad proof that a sober life is possible and rewarding even years down the line.

Get Help Now

There is a roadmap for life after rehab. So please, if you’re considering seeking treatment, don’t wait another day. Contact a treatment provider now to discuss treatment options.

  • Author: William Henken | Last Edited: October 4, 2021

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    William Henken

    Will Henken earned a B.A. in Advertising and Public Relations from the University of Central Florida. He has had his work published in the Orlando Sentinel, and has previous experience crafting copy for political action committees and advocacy groups dedicated to social justice. Addiction and mental health are personal subjects for him, and his greatest hope is that he can give a helping hand to those seeking healthy and lasting recovery.

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