We talk a great deal about getting to rehab, getting help for addiction(s) and mental illness, but what happens after the rehab/counseling experience. We know that addiction and mental illness are both chronic conditions—they last a lifetime. One is still an addict but now the person is an addict in recovery; one is still depressed (bipolar, etc.) but now hopefully the person can manage to live a more fulfilling life through management of the illness. So what are some keys to making to transition to a more “normal” life.
If leaving rehab:
• Realize that in rehab staying away from alcohol/drugs/other addictions is made as easy as possible. The addict has to “break the rules” to get to the addictive agent. Home does not have that supportive of an environment and those who love the addict have to re-alize they cannot recreate that kind of environment. The tools for recovery have been pre-sented and taught—it is up to the addict to apply what he/she has learned.
• The real world has trouble being supportive 24/7. Leaving rehab usually means re-turning to some aspects of the previous life. There will be familiar stresses and triggers. Some friends and family may be angry. Some who are still in the throes of addiction may try to sabotage the process of reentry as an addict in recovery. The person in recovery needs to identify those who truly want the best for them, seek forgiveness where needed, and let go of toxic individuals in their life. During rehab, the addict should have devel-oped better coping skills—they will be tested as the integration to a more normal life oc-curs.
The most common mistakes that are made after leaving rehab are:
• Thinking “my problems are solved.” They are not—everyone, even sober people, have problems.
• Spending time with old “friends” who are still using. You want to put yourself in a healthier environment. Part of the problems may be your old friends want to continue.
• Being unrealistic about what sobriety means.
• Forgetting to examine more closely (mental illness, poor coping skills, etc.) the things that led to the spiral into addiction. Those are areas that still need attention.
• Slipping up and thinking that means you have failed. Addiction recovery, like dieting and many other life changes, requires vigilance and patience. Slipping up, while not ideal, can be overcome—it is not what you did, but what you do next that is important.
• Remembering, it took a while to get to rock bottom, it will take a while to repair the damage done. Mending relationships, refocusing life, etc. takes time—recuperation and rebuilding takes time—the first week, the first month are not long enough.
If you love and care about someone experiencing these struggles, just know you are expe-riencing troubles also. Remember, you cannot “fix” the person or the person’s mistakes. You may want them to succeed but you cannot will it. You can help and support their ef-forts, you can walk and talk with them; but it is their efforts that matter. Know that com-ing home from rehab is difficult for you and for them.
Ezra 10:4 Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it. (NIV)

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