Find out how looking forward keeps you from going backwards.
For many, alcohol abuse is debilitating. Substance abuse treatment takes time, dedication and new habits. Alcoholism affects people from all walks of life, spanning across many ages, races and socioeconomic brackets. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that over 80,000 people die from alcohol-related instances every year in America.
Today, alcohol is still one of the nation’s most preventable death causes—second to a sedentary lifestyle and tobacco. While this fact may be unfortunate, it also holds value for those who’ve faced addiction. Life after alcoholism exists—and it can be a fulfilling one.
The Foundation of Long-Term Recovery
While substance abuse treatment often occurs in a professional treatment facility, outpatient treatment is still important. Recovering alcoholics who’ve attended an inpatient program can find incredible support in an outpatient treatment program. Meanwhile, those who’ve attended an outpatient treatment program can still make choices which promote an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Post-treatment recovery, whether outpatient or self-driven, can be successful if the right steps are taken. During outpatient treatment, a recovering alcoholic can engage the following to help rebuild a life worth living:
Creating life goals: Creating, listing and adhering to goals makes all the difference. Goals should benefit your health, wellness, and sense of self. Whether your goals are recovery-related, fitness-related or hobby-related, establishing “achievement” points—however small—can aid your overall recovery journey.
Rebuilding damaged relationships: Often, those who’ve suffered from alcoholism have damaged many relationships between friends and family. During an outpatient drug treatment program, those focusing on recovery are encouraged to reach out to any damaged relationships. Restoring these relationships may take time, but it’s entirely necessary to achieving a fulfilling life, post-addiction.
Understanding impulses: The desire to drink can persist even after attending rehab for substance abuse. By discovering your drinking “triggers,” you can set a proactive, substance-free foundation.
Joining local support groups: Local support groups comprised of like-minded people can further aid your post-treatment recovery. We need social contact to understand ourselves better, discover deep-rooted habits and explore our motivations.
Once you’ve established a foundation for long-term recovery, you can embrace life’s finer offerings. Rehab for substance abuse is incredibly effective, but many opportunities exist for enriching your new, substance-free lifestyle.
Studies show that alcohol-addicted individuals think about alcohol before they drink. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has offered valuable insight into this cue-linked craving phenomenon: By “replacing” the thought of drinking with other exciting, fulfilling experiences, a recovering alcoholic can prevent relapse entirely.
They can also rewire their brain’s reward system to achieve a regular, happy life. It’s possible to find effective, life-building experiences beyond an outpatient treatment center. This said, it’s a good idea to ask your outpatient treatment center for any resources.
Pursue Sobriety-Affirming Activities
Make a schedule of healthy activities. Ideally, these activities should be scheduled during your old drinking hours. Some fulfilling activities include:
- Trying a new sport
- Learning a new craft
- Embracing exercise in a gym
- Exploring local landmarks
- Hiking and other outdoor activities
- Meditation and yoga
Explore a New Social Network
It can be difficult to find new friends beyond an outpatient drug treatment program, but it’s important to building your new lifestyle. Go to your town’s events, join crafting groups or meet others in sports teams. Reach out to family members, and begin building your network from your loved ones.
Pursue a Life Goal
If you’ve already established important goals during rehab for substance abuse, now is the time to pursue them. Many outpatient drug rehab centers offer plenty of resources to help patients chase their dreams. Other outpatient drug rehab centers, meanwhile, help their patients make the social connections needed to take the first step.
Alcoholism can be debilitating, but there is always hope. If you or a loved one have suffered from alcohol abuse, focus on creating a future foundation for success first. Then, take small steps. You’d be amazed by how much you can achieve.