Sustaining Sobriety Beyond Rehab
If you had to guess what the two hardest words for a recovering addict are, what would you say?
I’ll give you a hint. It’s not bar and room. It’s not old and friends. It’s not even drugs and alcohol.
The two most difficult words a recovering addict must deal with are these: what now? What now is the turning point. It’s the axis. The mark in the road. The line in the sand.
You are fresh out of rehab. You just finished up a program like Shenandoah Valley Adult & Teen Challenge.
You are motivated to maintain your sobriety.
But you are facing the daunting task of what to do now.
Too often, we set down a list of rules and guidelines that we tell ourselves we’ll follow. Don’t go to so-and-so’s house. Don’t stay out past 10pm. Etc. But what do we do? We stay out late, we go to so-and-so’s house, and we end up doing Etc.
Rather than living by a list of rules, what if we decided to live what we can call The Great Exchange? This for that. The ultimate tradeoff. Let me explain.
Being fresh out of rehab, you basically have a fresh start at life. And a great way to take advantage of a fresh start is to exchange a lot of old, bad things for new, good things.
In fact, there are three great exchanges that can be made that will increases your chances of succeeding in sobriety after rehab.
Let’s consider each of them and look at some ideas about them together.
The Habit Exchange
Much of what we do and who we become in life is the result of our daily habits. What we do consistently over time ultimately defines who we are.
The old habits before rehab probably looked like this:
-wake up late
-call in sick to work
New habits after rehab could look something like this:
-wake up at 7am
-arrive to work 5 min. early
The exchange concept works like this. Instead of saying, “I’m going to stop sleeping in late,” we say, “I’m going to exchange my habit of sleeping in late for the new habit of waking up at 7am.”
We do this one habit at a time. And overtime, we reduce our bad habits that led to the former way of living and increase the new habits that help us live the life we truly want to live now that we are out of rehab.
2. The Goals Exchange
This is a very important point. Before going to rehab, we had bad goals. You may think you had no goals. But everyone has goals. (Some people have a goal to do as little as possible and accomplish no goals which, by definition, is a goal.)
Your goal was to get high, as much as possible, regardless of what you had to do (or who you had to hurt) to do it. That goal was basically the overarching purpose of your life.
Now, you no longer have that goal. The problem is that this can leave you empty. You have nothing else filling that void.
That’s where the great exchange comes in. Instead of getting rid of that old goal, we’re going to exchange it for some new goals.
Here are some suggestions:
-spend time with family
-learn a new language
-earn $50,000 a year from a new career
-create a blog to help others overcome an addiction like you did
-raise money for a nonprofit doing something you believe in
-get your GED
By exchanging the old goal of getting high with the new goal of whatever you choose, you will give yourself something to look forward to.
You will give yourself a compelling reason to stay sober, and this is vital to your success after getting out of rehab.
3. The Activities Exchange
Being an addict is more than getting high. It’s a lifestyle. And a lifestyle is simply the way you live out a series of activities throughout your day. It’s what you do.
You didn’t just get drunk, for example. You went Johnny’s house to pick him up. You drove to the bar downtown. The two of you sat at the table in the corner with the silver picture frame next to it. Johnny ordered beer, and you got wine. After each drinking two, you played three games of pool. The loser drove the car home. The next day, around the same time as yesterday, you went to Johnny’s… And you know the routine.
What you need now is a new routine. New activities. What sort of things do you like? What have you always wanted to learn to do?
A few ideas:
-take up Karate lessons
-start a business
-visit with family friends for lunch
-coach your kid’s soccer team
The idea is to exchange your old activities for new ones. Find something new to do. Don’t just avoid what you used to do, but add something you want to do in its place.
Doing this will keep you busy, entertained, and motivated.
The best way to maintain sobriety after rehab is to exchange old things for new things. Let’s replace bad habits with good ones, give up old goals for new goals, and swap drug-related activities for fun, healthy activities.
And when you need extra encouragement on the journey of your new Great Exchange, remember that Jesus did the greatest exchange of all. He gave His peace for our worries, His life for our souls, and His freedom for our bondage. So, don’t be bound again in addiction. Be free and experience the Great Exchange.