For me, the period I spent in rehab wasn’t difficult because I had to let go of alcohol, but rather because I also had to give up on my former way of life. Even though it was difficult at first, rehab started to seem less challenging after I realized I can live without alcohol. And then I got out of rehab…
Temptation Became My Shadow
The real challenge in my life were the first weeks after rehab, when I got back home only to realize that Iím looking at the same problems I had before. The financial problems I was facing before entering the rehab program were still there. Moreover, now that I didn’t have a job and my wife took an unpaid leave to be there for me, the bills and expenses were piling up pretty fast.
The only difference between now and then was that I couldn’t turn to my old friend Jack for comfort. The closest thing I can compare the transition between rehab and the real world to is a cold shower. While rehab meant a world of support and receiving help each time you reached out, re-entering the environment that started the addiction was overwhelming. In short, the temptation to grab a drink was stronger than ever.
Donít Forget What You Learned in Rehab
The overwhelming feelings of uselessness and the powerlessness took over and two months after I got out of rehab, I relapsed. While I did enjoy drinking an entire bottle of Jack, the feeling of guilt became stronger with every sip. I confessed what I did to the counselor I had in rehab and she convinced me to go through rehab again. This time, I was keen on paying attention and getting well.
What I learned the second time I underwent rehab is that the program provides you with a plethora of tools to help you get your life back. The reason they forced me into taking at least three prescribed activities per day was that I could learn skills and strategies to employ when Iím out into the real world.
Granted, rehabís role is to teach you a bundle of coping strategies so you can stay clean and sober. However, donít forget that it takes two to tango: it was my responsibility to use the new skills and strategies I’ve learned to avoid relapse.
Number One Rule: Avoid High-risk Situations
High-risk situations in this case refer to behaviors and actions that proved dangerous and could lead to a relapse. The common high-risk situations youíll face as a recovering alcoholic include being hungry, angry, lonely and tired (Dr. Seth Meyerís famous HALT).
Not only are these feelings a leading cause for cravings, but the aforementioned combination of emotions is more common than you think. Simply try to evoke how you feel at the end of the day: you are probably tired and angry after a tough day at work; youíre kind of hungry since you probably didn’t eat too well; youíre feeling lonely because nobody around you understands what youíre going through.
Despite of all these facts, you can remain strong and prevent a relapse. Whenever you feel youíre in your darkest hour, donít hesitate to ask for help.