Once you have started leading a life that is free from drugs after you have gotten out of a rehab program, it’s important to keep the momentum going. According to studies by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), the longer former addicts abstain from using drugs, the better their chances of long-term recovery. More specifically, those who have been clean for one to three years are on a much better path towards recovery than those who have just concluded their rehab programs for a month or two.
Living a normal life seems like cliché to people who don’t take drugs. For them, it is waking up each day, going to work or school, eating dinner with family and talking with friends. For those who have been fresh out of rehab, however, these may not necessarily be the only things that they need to do to sustain their recovery. Living a normal life could also mean putting importance in those activities to fuel your drive to stay clean and remind you of how fortunate you are to be given another chance to spend time with your loved ones.
So what are these activities?
1. Continue to attend your support program meetings.
In your 12-step meetings, you meet people who are in the same boat as you. You have a strong support network of people who actually understand what it’s like to be in the early recovery stage. Yes, your loved ones who have never been on drugs may try to understand what you are going through—and they may even be over-supportive. But those who know what cravings are like but were still able to control them, those who know what it’s like to be ostracized because of their condition and those who know the frustration a relapse can cause—they are all found in your support program meetings.
If you can’t regularly attend, then at least have someone who has been through the same stage as you—perhaps a sponsor or counselor—that you can call on any time you need support. Whenever you feel that the cravings become too much or when a very supportive loved one has gotten terminally ill and you are devastated, you can call on them to get the support you need at this most critical time when you are vulnerable to relapse.
2. Engage in a new activity.
When you are in the early days of your recovery, it’s advantageous to engage in a new activity. There are many benefits to doing so. First, it allows you to put your focus on learning and mastering the new endeavor and diverts your thoughts and attention away from drugs and alcohol. Second, it allows you to meet new people and make new friends. You may even start dating again. Third, it gives you new opportunities to do new things. You could teach younger students, reach out to the less fortunate and perhaps even travel to new places here and abroad. Whether it’s an activity that you have always been interested in but have always been scared to do or just a random sport you have decided to try, get fully involved. Put your mind and heart to it and you’ll actually realize that it’s possible to enjoy life without the high of drugs.
3. Celebrate milestones.
Part of living a normal life as a newly-reformed drug addict is to recognize and celebrate your victories. When you have reached a month of staying clean and sober, give yourself a pat in the back and a little celebration. You may want to give a drug-free and booze-free party to your loved ones or if you feel that a party might just be a tad too much, you can just write your achievement in your journal or take your spouse out on a date. When you acknowledge your successes, no matter how little, you set yourself up for even bigger triumphs. The more encouraged you will be to live a clean and substance-free life.