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Life After Addiction Rehab

Addiction treatment may be the most important decision you or your loved one make for your life, but what happens after you complete your detox or inpatient treatment program? Fortunately, there are ways to prepare for life after rehab. These include entering continuing care programs, leaning on your support system, and working to maintain a drug-free life.

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Is there Life After Rehab?

To foster long-term recovery from a substance use disorder, you should aim to care for all aspects of your physical and mental health after leaving a rehab program.

If you or your supportive family members are unprepared for relapse or other factors in the recovery process, it’s harder to face these situations when they occur.

What Happens After You Get Out of Rehab?

Depending on the substance abuse treatment center you attend, they may connect you with step-down levels of care and other addiction recovery resources.

These resources may include support groups, like local Alcoholics Anonymous chapters or their alumni program.

Staff at your treatment facility may be able to help you find less-intensive treatment options for your next phases of recovery, such as outpatient counseling or therapy.

If they do not, you should seek a form of continuing care that is right for you. The right continuing care will give you the tools to embrace long-term recovery.

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Continuing Care Options

In resuming your life after addiction treatment, connect with support systems or treatment programs geared toward people in early addiction recovery.

These follow-up continuing care options allow you to live independently in recovery while still accessing the support you need to avoid alcohol or drug abuse.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes, or sober homes, are residential houses where people in early substance abuse recovery reside.

These homes typically require that residents be enrolled in a treatment plan, usually outpatient treatment, such as a 12-step group or individual therapy sessions.

In outpatient care, people in recovery can seek support from other recovering addicts, find vocational support such as employment or educational assistance, and begin to explore life after rehab.

Transitional Living Homes

Transitional living homes are often funded by the state or federal government and address many personal and healthcare issues that adolescents and young adults face.

Some ways transitional living homes help is by providing support for:

  • Substance use disorder treatment
  • People facing homelessness
  • Educational assistance
  • Parenting skills classes
  • Life skills courses
  • Employment assistance
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Interpersonal skill-building
  • Aftercare services

Transitional homes may offer professional and peer support for people who do not have access to a strong support system to begin their recovery journey.

12-Step Support Groups

One of the oldest and arguably most effective addiction treatment methods is the 12-step method, founded and championed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Since its founding, AA has branched out and founded groups that address other substance use disorders, such as Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and others.

Originally founded on principles of the Christian faith, these 12-step groups have altered over time and now only require that participants submit to a higher power as they know it.

Alcoholics Anonymous and similar support groups ask people in recovery to admit powerlessness over alcohol or drug abuse and call on the higher power to help conquer it.

Individual Counseling

Counseling for alcohol addiction or drug use can help a person address the behaviors and thoughts that lead to substance abuse.

Over time, counseling can help a person identify life events or situations that may have prompted substance use, connect them with healing resources, and teach them critical coping skills.

The main goal of counseling in addiction recovery is to help a person maintain their recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. The secondary goal is to help them heal from the damage addiction has wrought on their life.

Sober Networks

Building a support system of sober friends is crucial to your new life in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse.

There are many ways to do this, but the end goal is the same no matter which avenue you choose: having a close group of friends/family with you on your recovery journey.

Some ways you may make new sober friends may include:

  • Attending 12-step group meetings
  • Connecting with a sober group of friends at your local church or place of worship
  • Keeping in touch with friends you made at the addiction treatment facility
  • Trying new hobbies that are alcohol- and drug-free, like a spin club, hiking, or bowling
  • Reaching out to others in recovery via a mobile recovery app
  • Calling on your treatment center’s rehab alumni services, which may connect you with all the people in recovery who attended your treatment center

Why Is Continuing Care Important for Addiction Recovery?

Recovery from alcohol or drug use is a lifelong process — it doesn’t stop after you leave rehab. That’s why seeking aftercare is so important, because it arms you with the tools you need to succeed in recovery.

You wouldn’t expect someone with a chronic illness such as an autoimmune disease or diabetes to never seek treatment for their illness after initial treatment. And people with addiction, a chronic health condition, shouldn’t be expected to enter long-term recovery without help. This is where continuing care comes in.

Step-down levels of care for substance abuse help you seek lasting recovery through:

  • Managing your cravings and drug or alcohol use triggers
  • Teaching you coping skills
  • Helping you build a healthy lifestyle that promotes sobriety
  • Connecting you with sober peers who are also on their recovery journey
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Tips for Maintaining a Sober Life

To help serve your well-being in recovery, here are some actionable ways you can maintain your new substance-free life.

1. Learn Your Triggers

Drug use triggers (i.e., events, people, or situations) that prompt you to use drugs or alcohol are unique to each person.

The best rehab programs will help you identify your triggers during therapy sessions and work out ways to confront and address them.

Keeping up this important work is crucial to your sober life after rehab.

2. Build a Support Network

The importance of a solid support system in drug addiction recovery cannot be understated. Find people close to you, whether current family and friends or new sober friends and mentors and call on them.

Plan sober activities, seek help when needed, and attend events with your support group. Loneliness and self-doubt are enemies of recovery.

Having people you can count on is important since many people in addiction recovery also manage mental health issues that can make sobriety tough to maintain, like anxiety or depression.

Your support system can provide listening ears, offer a distraction, be your champion, and provide the help you need.

3. Plan for Relapse

Relapse (a return to substance use) is an potential part of addiction recovery, as with many chronic health conditions.

Healthcare experts recommend teaching people in early recovery to recognize the signs of relapse as they are happening and have a plan for how to manage it.

Many drug rehab centers make relapse prevention training part of their treatment plans, so you may already have some knowledge of how to identify a relapse before it happens.

This is where your support network comes into play. You can call on your inner circle for help when you know you’re at risk of relapsing.

Some general signs of relapse to watch for include:

  • Feeling nostalgic about past alcohol or drug use
  • Believing you may be able to ‘control’ substance abuse if you return to it
  • Experiencing behavior changes
  • Isolating yourself
  • No longer taking part in hobbies or activities
  • Spending time with people who actively do drugs or drink alcohol
  • Feeling the recovery process doesn’t work
  • Avoiding support group meetings

4. Put Your Recovery First

Perhaps the most important component of recovery is self-care, and one major aspect of this is putting your recovery first at all costs.

Prioritizing recovery may be difficult in practice, as it could require you to let go of jobs, friends, activities, or even family members who prompt drug use or don’t support recovery.

However, holding fast to a drug-free life after rehab means keeping your recovery as your life’s highest priority. In the end, you and those who love you will be glad you did.

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Addiction Recovery Resources for You or Your Loved One

There is life after addiction rehab, and it starts with seeking the helpful resources that will contribute to your sobriety.

You can keep in touch with your treatment center’s alumni group, find a 12-step support group online, connect with recovery peers through mobile apps, and seek ongoing counseling.

Whatever path you choose, be sure that you keep up the important work of coping with triggers, identifying relapse, and managing the effects of addiction every day.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. National Library of Medicine (2020 April 21). Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. “What Is the “Trigger” of Addiction?”Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

  2. National Library of Medicine (2010 December). Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. “What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here?” Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

  3. National Library of Medicine (2013). Social Work in Public Health. “12-Step Interventions and Mutual Support Programs for Substance Use Disorders: An Overview.” Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

  4. National Library of Medicine (2015 September). Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery.” Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Family and Youth Services Bureau (2020 September). “Transitional Living Program Fact Sheet.” Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: National Institute on Drug Abuse (2000 July). “Approaches to Drug Abuse Counseling.” Retrieved February 9, 2023, from

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