While there may be dozens of conflicting ideas on drug and alcohol rehab, virtually all rehab experts agree that structure and routine should be a critical part of treatment. Virtually every rehab program will attempt to lock participants into strict routines to help them develop habits that aid their recovery.
These routines have an important immediate function. They keep recovering individuals busy, distracting them from drugs or alcohol. However, they also aid in long-term recovery. Fully-developed habits can help conserve limited mental energy, effectively allowing much of a patient’s recovery to be done on autopilot.
Unfortunately, the recovery process does not stop after rehab. Recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) can take anywhere from three months to a lifetime, depending on the severity of the case. Unfortunately, most rehab programs do not last nearly that long, which often means it’s up to the patient to complete their recovery journey.
Below are some great habits to develop after finishing rehab. If you think you or a loved one have an SUD, please get in touch with our team at Boston Drug Treatment Centers for a listing of rehab centers in Boston.
1.) Sleeping and waking up at the same timeErratic sleep schedules don’t just play havoc with your health. Lacking sleep or sleeping too much can influence your behavior in negative ways, possibly making you vulnerable to relapse or to making bad decisions.
Try to develop a sleep routine where you sleep and get up at the same time every day, including during weekends. Make sure that you include enough hours of sleep as well, as sleep deprivation can lead to or worsen depression anxiety symptoms, both of which can lead to early relapse.
2.) Make your bed daily
While seemingly inconsequential, there is growing evidence that making your bed can make you productive throughout the day — something that could be critical for maintaining motivation throughout early recovery. Making your bed starts your day off with a win, which, though minor, can reinforce attempts to develop a positive mindset. And as you might have learned in rehab, a winning attitude can make all the difference in recovery.
3.) Practice meditation and mindfulness
After making your bed, you may want to spend a few minutes practicing meditation or mindfulness techniques. As you may have already learned in rehab, meditation and mindfulness can be effective at improving concentration and self-control, both of which are often difficult immediately after recovery.
However, this is not the only reason to keep meditating after rehab. Another crucial benefit is that these practices are almost as effective as medication at treating anxiety and depression symptoms. Meditation and mindfulness can also help increase brain growth, which may help promote the creation of neural pathways that bypass the ones created by substance misuse.
It can be difficult committing to meditation every single day, however. You can get around this by scheduling short sessions with your smartphone or other devices. Finding the time to meditate will get easier, and you’ll wonder how you managed without it.
4.) Practice self-care
Small, positive acts of self-love include eating healthy meals made from whole foods, practicing proper hygiene, regular exercise, and practicing hobbies that one enjoys. Resolving to do all these can keep you healthy, build your confidence, and give you the emotional strength needed to see recovery through.
Another way to practice self-care is to watch out for your mental health. Take sick days when you need them and put the focus on yourself and positive relationships. Not only will you reduce the motivation to use drugs, but you might also find that you will no longer crave them because you living so much more.
5.) Do volunteer work
A UK-based study has found that volunteer and community work may be more effective than medication at preventing drug relapses. Doing volunteer work can prevent relapses in several ways. First, it can expand your circle of friends beyond the ones who may negatively influence your behavior. Second, volunteering can help you feel good, which reduces the motivation to relapse. Lastly, volunteering can build a deeper sense of purpose that can help recovering individuals move forward in life.
The strict routines in rehab are more than just a way to distract patients recovering from drug or alcohol misuse. They are intended to instill practical life skills that continue to benefit patients in the real world.
Understandably, the importance of routine and structure tends to fall by the wayside as soon as individuals finish their time in rehab. However, the failure to maintain these habits can increase exposure to relapse risks. By continuing to maintain positive routines after rehab, recovering individuals can greatly increase their emotional and mental resilience, further improving their odds of a full recovery.