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Life After Rehab: Potential Challenges and What to Expect

Completing an addiction treatment program is one of the biggest hurdles in recovery, which should be celebrated. However, life after rehab can be extremely difficult, especially when you are in the early transition stage from a rehab facility to independent living. As a result, it is important to remain vigilant in your recovery.

Graduating from a rehab program does not mean your work is over. You must make vital lifestyle changes and continue your recovery maintenance techniques to remain sober long-term. This can be difficult, especially if you do not know what to expect.

Being aware of the challenges you will face, how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and what types of support are available to you will make it much easier for you to maintain sobriety after rehab.

What Kind of Challenges Will You Face After Rehab?

The biggest challenge people face after rehab is new triggers. Once you leave a treatment facility, you will begin living independently as a sober person, maybe even for the first time in your adult life. This can be incredibly difficult without the proper coping mechanisms.

Examples of the new challenges you might face during life after rehab include:

  • Boredom
  • Looking for employment
  • Maintaining a steady job
  • Going back to school
  • Learning how to have fun without drugs or alcohol
  • Seeing old friends and family members
  • Repairing broken relationships
  • Learning how to set a daily routine
  • Balancing recovery meetings, work, school, and a social life
  • Being around drug or alcohol use

All of the challenges you face could cause you to begin craving drugs or alcohol. If you experience cravings, you must understand how to overcome them. Additionally, there are steps you can take to prevent cravings from occurring in most cases.

It is incredibly important that you attempt to keep yourself separate from your old life. This means avoiding people, places, or things that trigger memories of your substance abuse. For example, you should not hang out with your old friends who still abuse drugs or alcohol, as doing so could set you off track and cause you to experience a relapse.

How to Maintain a Sober Lifestyle Outside of Treatment

Learning how to maintain a sober lifestyle after leaving a rehab center can be challenging. Since the addiction relapse rate is between 40 to 60%, it’s important to understand the steps you should take to keep your sobriety secure.[1]

When you leave an addiction treatment program and begin tackling sobriety independently, you should take the following steps:

Build a Community

Community is incredibly important for people recovering from drug addiction and alcoholism. Having a network of people who can support you, provide you with advice, and teach you how to have fun in sobriety can provide you with the accountability and social life you need to maintain long-term recovery.

Whether you find a community in a 12-step group, an alternative recovery support group like SMART Recovery, or at your alumni meetings, it’s a vital step in life after rehab.

Stick to a Daily Routine

One of the biggest triggers for relapses among individuals in early recovery is boredom. Before you got sober, you probably got used to a fast-paced lifestyle. This type of lifestyle can be addictive in and of itself.

When you complete drug and alcohol treatment, you must create a daily routine that can prevent you from experiencing boredom. This will ensure that you do not have time to sit around and daydream about using drugs or alcohol.

Find Hobbies or Interests You are Passionate About

A big part of maintaining a healthy and sober lifestyle is figuring out who you are without substances. If you began abusing drugs or alcohol as a teen, you might not even know what you are passionate about yet. As a result, you should take time out of your week to engage in new hobbies or activities that you are interested in.

Finding a hobby or activity that provides you with happiness and fulfillment can prevent you from wanting to go back to your old habits.

Continue Practicing Your Recovery Maintenance Techniques

One of the most important steps in maintaining a sober lifestyle outside of treatment is continuing to do the things that helped you recover in the first place. Recovery does not end when you complete a rehab program, so continuing to practice your recovery maintenance techniques is vital.

For example, when you were in rehab you learned a variety of coping mechanisms to help you deal with triggers, prevent cravings, and heal from the wounds of your past. To maintain your sobriety, you must continue doing this daily. You should still attend therapy and aftercare, stay open and honest with your friends or loved ones, and practice self-care to keep your mental state positive.

What Kinds of Support Are Available?

Life after rehab can be difficult. Thankfully, there are a few options for continued support. Whether you are having a hard time or feeling good, you should seek out support to maintain your sobriety.

Types of support that will be available to you after rehab include:

  • Therapy – Therapy can help you continue to overcome the root causes of your addiction, preventing underlying issues from rising up and triggering you.
  • Alumni – Alumni support groups can provide you with a community of like-minded people that will support you and provide you with advice.
  • 12-Step Programs – 12-step programs can provide you with structure, accountability, and step-by-step instructions on how to live a happy, and fulfilled lifestyle as a sober individual.
  • Alternative Support Groups – If you are not interested in the spiritual components offered in 12-step programs, you can find a supportive community that teaches you how to maintain long-term sobriety in an alternative support group like SMART Recovery or Women for Sobriety.

Find Help Today

If you or a loved one are struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, it’s time to seek help. Whether it’s your first time or you are just coming back from a relapse, Mandala Healing Center can provide you with the tools and support you need to get back on track.

To learn more about our substance abuse treatment programs, contact us today.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The Science of Addiction Treatment and Recovery, Retrieved August 2023 From