Finishing Treatment: What Is Life After Addiction?

A young man sitting at a dock.

Finishing Treatment: What Is Life After Addiction?

Some men may experience nervousness toward the end of addiction treatment. This is understandable. Often, men don’t know what to expect once their goals are met, and they finish their treatment program. Picturing what is ahead can feel overwhelming. Some men may fear that they will return to old habits during early recovery when they go back to their usual routine. Life after addiction can be a very vulnerable time. Exposure to alcohol and drugs, intense cravings, and triggers can be difficult to cope with.

All of these feelings and fears are normal. This is why we emphasize our alumni networks. Our alumni program is a community-oriented, clinically driven program. The mission of this program is to provide men with substance use disorder (SUD) with the support needed to stay sober. We provide those who finished their treatment programs with the sober living skills they need to ensure relapse prevention.

Life After Addiction Treatment: What to Expect

Once an individual achieves their treatment goals and they transition into early recovery, it is common for them to feel hesitant to move forward. This can be due to a remaining lack of trust in themselves or others. Because of this, they may need additional support to move forward with confidence.

Recovery involves major life changes. In treatment, an individual typically learns the tools and strategies needed to appropriately respond to substance triggers, cravings, and unwanted exposure to drugs and alcohol. At the beginning of recovery, a person must use the skills learned in therapy and put them into action. Maintaining long-term sobriety is a lifelong path that requires continued effort.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a sober living home can help those who are in early recovery to maintain sobriety. A sober living home can be especially beneficial for those who do not wish to reenter an environment with negative influences. Recovery homes provide a sober environment that’s safe from substance abuse. This housing can serve as a stepping stone toward living a productive lifestyle free from alcohol and drugs. Choosing to move forward at a sober living home can give individuals a new perspective on what a substance-free home life is supposed to feel like.

Life After Addiction Treatment: Benefit From Alumni Networks

Completing addiction recovery may be one of the greatest achievements a person can have. Nevertheless, a person must make ongoing improvements and stay committed over time in order to establish long-term recovery.

An example of how this works can be found in the process of learning to drive. Even though an individual understands the rules of the road, they now need to put them into action in real time while driving. Early recovery can feel similar. An individual may have learned the tools and sober skills needed when starting out. Yet, they need to start to put those tools and skills into action when faced with unintended exposures, triggers, and intense cravings.

Making Changes in One’s Life After Addiction

In early recovery, people tend to make major life changes. This requires sacrifice. Sometimes people need to leave their old life behind. For example, one may quit their bar job, remove toxic relationships, move to a city with less drug or alcohol exposure, and possibly pursue further education. Granted, doing all of this can be an extremely lonely process. Sometimes it can be hard to see that by letting go of everything a person once knew, they are clearing the way for positive changes and new opportunities.

Expanding Social Networks in One’s Life After Addiction

A great way to expand a social network in times of stress is to attend alumni events. At these events, people gather to enjoy sober activities and confide in one another. These groups provide the perfect way to make new friends with others who have also been through the journey of addiction, treatment, and early recovery. Spending who with those that are headed in a similar direction can make a person feel better and realize they are not alone. Attending alumni events can be a fun way to decompress from a long day and participate in sober activities with like-minded individuals.

Life After Addiction Treatment: Working in Addiction Recovery

According to SAMHSA’s website, helping others in recovery as an alumnus can be helpful. For example, one may want to get involved within the community or alumni networks and begin working in the addiction recovery space. Recovery support services can help individuals receive helpful guidance, provide others with professional resources, find household assistance, and share their life goals. Doing so can help others remove barriers to recovery and stay dedicated to the process.

Moving Forward 

Finishing treatment can be a gratifying milestone in one’s life. Sober living skills needed to move forward comfortably in early recovery.  Choosing to live in a sober living home can help individuals learn how to maintain a new life in recovery.

Christopher Curran and Troy Smith, have experienced addiction treatment themselves. During their journey of treatment and recovery, they discovered sober living tips that help people succeed in living independently. These include:

  • Create a strong sober network
  • Set goals
  • Establish a routine
  • Find ways to have fun
  • Pause and reflect
  • Start and end your day with gratitude

When following these guidelines, full recovery is possible. Everyone deserves to heal and find joy in their lives after treatment.