After you go through detox and rehab and prepare to reenter the world, it can be difficult to know what’s next.

For so long, your life has centered around drugs or alcohol, but when you have the opportunity to redo everything from scratch, it can be difficult to know how or where to begin. To help you stay sober, we’ve taken some common concerns about life after recovery and responded with advice from experts and people who have been in your shoes.

How can I repair the damage I’ve done at work?

When a substance use disorder has taken up your energy for a long period of time, it’s possible that your job performance suffered. Spending your time focusing on work can give you a renewed sense of worth and a way to fill your time.

Remember, though, that being a workaholic can be unhelpful, too. You can easily burn yourself out or become so stressed that you turn back to substances to cope. Also, if you became unemployed while you were using, look at the section titled “How do you find a job after entering recovery?”

Where can I find a sense of community?

Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery, or other meetings can provide solace and a feeling of community on a regular basis. This way, you don’t feel as if you’re alone in your struggles or experiences. AA and NA will also help you find a sponsor, someone to turn to when you’re fighting cravings. Once you feel competent enough, you can also sponsor someone else, which many people find to be helpful with their own sobriety. Those in New York can visit a drug and alcohol detox center in Syracuse to assist with their sobriety.

What kinds of activities can take the place of drugs in my life?

However, your whole life can’t revolve around work and recovery. You also have to have fun, which is still possible without substances. As Meredith says, “My idea of fun continues to change as I try different things and have new life experiences. I usually have the most fun with other people, doing things like playing volleyball, listening to live music, going on bike rides, playing board games, going to improv shows or the movies, bonfires, swimming, and taking day trips out of town.  I am able to have fun when I am alone too, doing things such as yoga, baking, and do-it-yourself crafts. Ultimately, though, fun is about your attitude. I could probably have fun doing anything if I was with the right people and had a positive mindset or attitude.”

The rapper Eminem also battled with a substance use disorder that centered around painkillers. After he went through detox and entered recovery, he had trouble sleeping without using drugs. He began to run 17 miles per day and using exercise DVDs, too. This approach could work for you as exercise creates the endorphins that substances once supplied, and, if you join a class of some sort, you have access to a new social circle.

Do I need to drop my friends who use?

Ultimately, this is your decision. You’re the only one who can choose whether or not it’s in your best interest to spend time with people who continue to use. But bear in mind that a third of people in recovery relapse due to pressure from others.

“People who know you’re in recovery and continue to offer you substances do not have your best interest at heart.”

Also remember that people who still use might not like that you’re in recovery. They might feel rejected or guilty, and dealers won’t want to lose your business. If you do decide to keep seeing people who use, there are certain facts to keep in mind and certain skills you’ll have to practice:

  • People who know you’re in recovery and continue to offer you substances do not have your best interest at heart.
  • Learn how to say “no” immediately and convincingly.
  • Practice saying “no” with a loved one in a way that doesn’t invite follow-up questioning (as in “maybe later” or “I can’t — I’m on medication.”
  • Change the subject so the conversation doesn’t remain on drugs.

Chad, a person in recovery, also mentioned, “I’m surrounded by the greatest sober friends who love me for the person I am, and we have a lot of fun together,” which can help remind you that a social community can exist outside of substance use.

The rapper Eminem also battled with a substance use disorder that centered around painkillers. After he went through detox and entered recovery, he had trouble sleeping without using drugs. He began to run 17 miles per day and using exercise DVDs, too. This approach could work for you as exercise creates the endorphins that substances once supplied, and, if you join a class of some sort, you have access to a new social circle.

How do you find a job after entering recovery?

If you’re intimidated by the idea of trying to find a job after rehab, there’s less you have to worry about than you think. Know that the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act keep most employers from refusing to hire anyone because they’re in treatment for or in recovery from a substance use disorder unless the disorder would prevent the applicant from performing their job safely and competently.

Furthermore, employers are not permitted to ask whether or not a job applicant has ever abused substances, has had a substance use disorder, or is or has been in through rehab. However, an employer can rescind an offer of employment based on a positive drug screening, so be sure that you’re going into a job interview with a clean record, or paperwork noting the reason for any potentially positive results.

You also have the right to take medical leave for substance abuse treatment if you need it under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but you must have been worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in that time. Your employer also has to provide reasonable accommodations to help you with recovery alongside your job, including making a schedule that allows you to attend treatment.

These laws only apply if you’re not currently using substances, so staying sober is key.

How do you repair your relationships?

When you have a substance use disorder, your relationships (romantic and otherwise) will suffer. To mend them in your time of recovery, consider involving your loved ones in your treatment. Research has shown that when you do, the treatment itself can be more successful.

It’s also important to remember that substance abuse disorders result in a loss of trust. To repair the relationship, you have to repair the trust. It will take time, and the amount of time varies from person to person.

“Honesty and open communication help to pave the way for a better relationship in the future, and one day, if both parties work at building a new foundation of trust, the wall between you will disappear. ”

Which living environment is best?

When you enter recovery, it may be to your benefit to try moving into a sober living environment. Studies have shown that people living in such a house for a long period of time (between 15-17 months) saw higher attendance in educational settings, more days spent working, and more days spent taking necessary medications. Other studies have shown that the better your life in recovery is, the less likely you are to relapse.

Now that you know what has worked for others, you can apply it to your own life, taking what best fits you or what you’d like to try. Although life past addiction can be intimidating, hopefully now you can move forward with improved confidence, ready to fill your blank slate with new meaning.

[easy-social-share buttons="facebook,twitter,mail" counters=0 style="button" point_type="simple"]

+ Add Comments

Don't wait, get help today.


100% confidential

We never share your information with any third party.

Free

Our experts are here to help you with insurance verification.

No pressure to commit

Get answers to your questions without any obligations.

352.771.2700

We are here to help 24 hours a day.
“Are You In Recovery From Alcohol Or Drug Problems? Know Your Rights.” Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 29 November 2016. <https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/PHD1091/PHD1091.pdf>.Edwards, Ed.D., MS., Drew W. “Rebuilding Relationships in Early Recovery.” Library. PsychCentral, 2016. 29 November 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/rebuilding-relationships-in-early-recovery/>.Fals-Stewart, PhD, William. “Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships.” American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 2016. 29 November 2016. <https://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/Consumer_Updates/Substance_Abuse_and_Intimate_Relationships.aspx>Gómez, Daisy, et. al. “Vocational Training and Employment Attainment among Substance Abuse Recovering Individuals within a Communal Living Environment.” Therapeutic Communities. National Center for Biotechnology Informational, 2014. 29 November 2016. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4089100/>.Grillo, Jeremy. “Life After Rehab.” Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center. WebMD, 1 April 2014. 29 November 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/life-after-rehab?page=1>.Lyles, Travis. “Here’s how Eminem used exercise to overcome a drug addiction.” Entertainment. Business Insider, 3 August 2015. 1 December 2016. <http://www.businessinsider.com/eminem-used-exercise-to-overcome-a-drug-addiction-2015-8>.Messer, Leslie. “Eminem Opens Up About Addiction, Losing 80 Pounds and Getting Healthy.” Entertainment. ABCNews, 3 August 2015. 1 December 2016. <http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/eminem-opens-addiction-losing-80-pounds-healthy/story?id=32851402>.Razali, Asbah Binti, et. al. “Recidivism and Quality of Life among Former Drug Addicts: A Report Based on Prior Studies.” Open Journal of Social Sciences. Scientific Research Publishing, 2015. 29 November 2015. <http://file.scirp.org/pdf/JSS_2015040214105082.pdf>.“Sober Fun: How do You Enjoy Life Without Drugs or Alcohol?” Amplifi Blog. Not My Kid, 2014. 29 November 2016. <https://notmykid.org/amplifi-blog/sober-fun-how-do-you-enjoy-life-without-drugs-or-alcohol/>.“The Next Step… …Toward A Better Life.” Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011. 29 November 2016. <https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA12-4474/SMA12-4474.pdf>.
Facebook Comments
How to create a new life after drug addiction
How Would You Rate This Page?
Liz Lazzara

About Liz Lazzara

Liz Lazzara is a freelance writer and editor living and working in Boston, MA. She is working on three large projects:

1) A book series about living with depression to be published this fall,
2) A memoir about her life with C-PTSD, and
3) A novel about schizophrenia, a Greyhound bus, and the Pacific Coast.

Thus far, she has been published both online and in print. Some of her bylines include All That Is Interesting, Bitch Media, Bust Magazine, The Huffington Post, Ravishly, Human Parts, The Coffeelicious, and Writer's Digest.

View All Articles
How to create a new life after drug addiction was last modified: April 19th, 2018 by The Recovery Village