A Second Chance: Life After Opioid Addiction

Recovery from Opioid addiction doesn’t end after treatment, and adjusting to life after rehab can be difficult. People often have conflicting emotions when they leave rehab. Many find themselves excited to put the tools they learned to use and live substance-free, but many also find themselves scared of relapsing and have concerns about how to stay sober when faced with the challenges of everyday life. While there is no cure for addiction, and relapses are not uncommon, there are many steps that someone can take to ensure that they have a successful recovery. It is important to always remember that it is possible to live a healthy and happy life after Opioid addiction.

Developing Healthy Living Practices

Long-term lifestyle changes that focus on health and wellness have proven benefits for people in recovery. Healthy living practices such as regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and meditation are all important factors that can contribute to long-term sobriety. Exercise has proven to be play a key role in successful recovery as it helps lower depression and anxiety. In a recent study that followed patients who were being treated for substance abuse, it was shown that exercise leads to feelings of accomplishment, improved health, and an increase in confidence to stay drug-free. Additionally, exercise can provide a distraction from cravings and reduce stress, which can be triggers for relapse. As a person is recovering from Opioid addiction, he or she will have cravings for the endorphins that resulted in the high that he or she received while using their Opioid drug of choice. Exercise increases heart rate and will cause the brain to release endorphins that can induce feelings of euphoria, producing a natural high that replaces the artificial ones generated by drugs. Something as simple as taking a walk with the dog, swimming a few laps in the pool, or lifting weights at home could provide a boost to the mood and help prevent relapse.

Developing healthy living practices also includes a healthy diet. Food provides the body with energy and nutrients, so fueling it with the right foods is imperative to feeling good. Eating organic, whole foods can help a person feel a little stronger and a lot healthier. In addition to exercise and proper nutrition, finding a moment in each and every day to do something positive is important. Activities such as yoga and meditation can help clear anxiety and bring about the peace needed to take on the day. Many studies have observed the benefits of yoga and meditation for individuals recovering from Opioid addiction and have found that it significantly decreases chronic stress and improves sleeping habits. When incorporated into the lives of those recovering from addiction, all of these healthy living practices can have a profound effect on an individual’s mindset and dedication to sobriety.

Making New Relationships

Life After Opioid Addiction Can Be Immensely FulfillingAddictions often form through the influence of other people, and it is important for an individual going through recovery to surround him or her self with the right type of people that will support and encourage sobriety. Many relationships formed prior to rehab can be considered toxic, as these friendships were mostly comprised of others who were also involved in Opioid drug abuse. It’s important to note that these “friendships” were really just relationships of convenience; the time that was spent together revolved solely around getting and abusing drugs. Once that common connection is severed, those relationships will dissipate. Many people find this hard to accept and feel isolated upon returning from treatment, but it is important to make an effort to get out and connect with others, as those who withdraw and keep to themselves often have a greater risk of relapse.

Studies have shown that temptation levels will usually drop when recovering users are surrounded by others who are sober, and formers users with a positive social circle are more likely to engage in recreational activities other than going to parties or places where drugs are prominent. One of the easiest ways to start meeting others and building healthier relationships is to join a club or sign up for a class with a local community organization. Not only will this be a basis to build social skills and do something that is enjoyable, but it also provides an individual with the opportunity to be in the company of others who share similar interests. Another great way to meet new people is to volunteer; serving others and giving back to the community can allow an individual to feel a sense of purpose all while connecting with other volunteers. No matter what way it is gone about, having new sober friends is a vital resource for recovery as they provide a source of support, boost one’s mood, and prevent the loneliness and isolation that can lead to relapse.

Attending Support Groups and Counseling

Drug rehab programs often include support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), as an ongoing part of the healing process post-treatment. In a support group, participants continue to learn more about addiction and what life can look like without Opioid drugs. It provides an environment of people who are all working through similar issues and are dedicated to the same goal of sobriety, which is very important for recovery. In addition to providing a chance to make relationships with others that have similar circumstances, support group meetings provide a chance for self-reflection and betterment. It is a non-judgmental space, allowing participants to share the fears, concerns, and emotions that they may not be comfortable voicing to their friends or family. Additionally, individual or group counseling with a therapist also provides many of the same benefits for those recovering from Opioid addiction as support groups but with added scientific resources. Therapists can help individuals identify triggers, navigate conflict, resolve internal struggles, and address mental health conditions. Counseling can provide the ongoing support needed to stay sober and help someone work through any of the emotional turmoil that contributed to their addiction.

Although it can be tempting to skip such meetings, they’re a necessary part of the healing process. People who leave rehab with a comprehensive continuing care plan of either support groups or counseling have been proven to have a more successful transition to sobriety and have better rates of sustained recovery.

Author: Jena Hilliard – Last Edited: June 28, 2021

Clinically Reviewed by: Theresa Parisi – Last Reviewed: October 2, 2019

Our Clinical Reviewers are certified addiction professionals who verify the information on Opioid Help to make sure we provide the most accurate, correct, and updated information to our readers.

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Abrantes, Ana M. (2012). Exercise Preferences of Patients in Substance Abuse Recovery. Retrieved on 11th February 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3224086/#!po=75.5319

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Lux, Kali. (2018). After Rehab: How to Stay Sober When You Come Home From Treatment. Retrieved on 7th February 2019 https://www.workithealth.com/blog/after-rehab-coming-home