After Rehab: Recovery Survivors Share what Helps

Life after rehab or other treatment can be a pretty intimidating experience. You have essentially left the nest and returned to the real world. However, your counselors know this, and most likely they have given you a wealth of information including contacts for meetings and support groups. These meetings and groups will be your lifeline as you continue down the path of recovery.

Just like when you were in treatment, it always helps to hear from people who have been in the trenches. Recently, I spent some time with several recovery graduates. They were keen to share their post-treatment experiences with sober living.

Be Proactive in Finding Support

For Jeff, an Addiction Campuses graduate with one year of sobriety, life after treatment was a shock to his system. He realized the urgency of surrounding himself with the right people and entered a sober living house.

Jeff told me, “I’ve been living in a sober living house for almost a year now. Going from an environment where you’re completely transparent to the real world is a culture shock. I’d recommend as soon as you get out to surround yourself with people you can relate to and people you can be transparent with when it comes to your recovery. I just celebrated a year of sobriety, and I don’t know if it would have been possible without being in a sober living house. Put yourself around people that know what you’re going through. It makes it a lot easier.”

Not everyone will need a sober living house, but meetings and support groups can fill the void left after your treatment program ends. By forgoing the efforts to find meetings, you can easily find yourself on a slippery slope.

Scott, whose previous lifestyle left him with chronic medical conditions, told me that if it wasn’t for meetings, he could have easily fallen back into his former lifestyle. “Meetings are to me what dialysis was: if I don’t go, I’m going to die. They keep me on top of my disease. If I don’t speak and listen to people and be reminded why I don’t drink, then I’m going to drink. And if I drink, I’m going to die” he said.

Do The Work, Learn from Others

The beauty of hearing what others have gone through is that you can learn from their mistakes, and they can learn from yours. These recovery veterans share their knowledge willingly in service to everyone struggling from substance misuse. Soak up as much as you can.

Ryan, now sober and working toward a degree in counseling, found that listening and being open to suggestions was vital in his recovery process: “Take suggestions from your fellow people in recovery, and people that have been in your shoes and know what it’s like to have been where you are and have gotten through it. It wasn’t until this time that I took every suggestion that was given to me, and it has made all the difference in the world. It’s really important to be willing to listen to suggestions and to take input from people that have been there, done that.”

The path of recovery is one you will travel the rest of your life. By staying the course and following through, you can continue to beat substance misuse. But there will always be challenges and triggers. Draw on the skills you learned in treatment and the knowledge you gain from fellow survivors and you will have a better idea of how to cope with whatever life throws at you.


Cecelia Johnson believes strongly in the power of good deeds and recognizing great work. That’s why she created RecognitionWorks.org. The site is dedicated to connecting those who’ve been awarded for exemplary work in their communities to companies and organizations that can help them continue their admirable efforts through donations, sponsorships, and gifts. By making these connections, she hopes to build stronger, more altruistic communities and citizens.

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