Stable Recovery Requires a Lifestyle Change

Two people running along the water

Rehabilitation is the process of returning to a former or better condition. In relation to addiction, this means you are back to normal, no longer addicted and have a bright fresh start. Countless people have accomplished this over the years demonstrating that it is possible to be free from addiction. 

What makes the difference in those who succeed? There are many contributing factors— physical, mental, spiritual and social—that determine how successful one’s recovery will be. One major factor, which often hits a person square in the face once they get sober, is the need to create a whole new lifestyle.

Getting on with life

You have quit the drugs and alcohol, possibly completed a rehab program, and feel you’re ready to face the world and begin your new sober life. 

Or are you? Maybe you have reservations or uncertainties.

The most obvious thing—which is readily acknowledged but sometimes brushed off—is that you can’t just go back to your old life. That’s the life that led you to drug abuse and addiction.

In rehab you may have gotten to the root of a few critical issues in your life that led you to drug or alcohol abuse. If so, that is a big step. Ideally you’ve addressed these and begun to make any necessary changes for your return home. 

At Narconon we know the importance of these changes and it is an integral part of our program. We take up various life situations a person may have and through a specific set of actions assist in getting to source of their difficulties and resolving them.

New Life Means New Habits and Activities

There’s a common phrase in the recovery community: “the only thing you have to change is everything.” There’s a lot of truth to that. In order to happily live your life without drugs or alcohol, you will most likely need to make some drastic lifestyle changes.

Friends who use drugs or alcohol

The most obvious adjustment is relationships with old drug using friends. Most often a person will naturally choose not to associate with some of these people anymore. What about a close friend or even a family member? If you expect to stay sober, you’ll have to make some choices. Walking back into a drug using environment is just setting yourself up for relapse.

The bar and club scene

Let’s face it, nightclubs and bars are not conducive to abstinence or sobriety. Alcohol is flowing, drugs are available at every turn and the people around you are intoxicated. Usually once a person is sober, the bar scene is just not as appealing as it once was, but for the younger crowd that’s where “everyone” is hanging out. What to do now? You’ll need to work that out.

Find new interests, pursue an activity you always wanted to do but didn’t because you were busy drinking or drugging your life away. Find some sober friends and join in with what they are doing.

Too much alone time

For some people, alcohol or drugs were a solitary activity and there was nothing social about it. It could be loneliness or earlier loss of a loved one that led them down the road of abuse. For others, alcohol or drug use just wasn’t a social activity and so hid themselves away to drink or drug into oblivion. In either of these instances, staying home alone, maybe even living alone will need to change. With your new fresh start, it’s time to get out and meet some new people, pursue some new activities.

Abusive partner

Entering rehab will have offered temporary safety from abuse. Legal action may or may not have been taken, but before returning back home, the full situation must be confronted and addressed. Realize while in the safe haven of a recovery program, you could simply cut any connection with this person, but once you are home they may easily slip back into your life. Whatever level of action needs to be taken to ensure this person is no longer a threat to your health and safety needs will need to be carried out.

Lack of goals and purposes

For some people a lack of purpose or a goal they are working toward is enough to drive them to alcohol or drug abuse. This is common among young people who first turn to drugs for the risk and excitement they bring. It all starts as a game to them. Eventually trying to remember how you got home last night loses its appeal, but by that point you’re addicted.

If you go back to your life without a strong purpose or a goal to work toward you’re back in the same rut. With a new outlook on life, you have the chance to evaluate what you’d like to accomplish, what you would like to do to get there. Setting goals will give you a game to play and be a big contributing factor to maintaining sobriety.

Unfulfilling job or career

This goes hand and hand with your goals and purposes. Work related stress is a common subject, but most often if you really enjoy your work, the challenges you face are taken in stride and you don’t get so “stressed” about it. 

Another thing to consider is your knowledge and ability to produce what is needed on the job and therefore succeed. Successful accomplishment goes along way to raising one’s morale. You may need to take a good look at your job or career and decide if you are truly happy with it. If not, consider changing it. If earlier you were struggling to succeed, well for one, that may have been related to your drug or alcohol use, but you might also consider more training so you can be more successful. Either way, something must change as going back to the same old rut is only setting yourself up for more disappointment and stress.

Connections to ill-intentioned people

Before you head back to your environment an inventory of your friends and associates needs to be done to determine who will be supportive of you and who will not. In some instances, such as the relationship with a drug dealer, they are not only unsupportive, their intentions are actually harmful. Anyone who would sell drugs to someone who might very well walk away and overdose is not a social, caring person, no matter what façade they might present.

Paving the way for a drug-free life

happy healthy woman

The life skills portion of the Narconon program takes up any situations such as these. Through our hands-on courses the client works with trained specialists who guide them step by step. The end result is a detailed plan of action that becomes part of their aftercare program, all geared to establishing and creating their stable, drug-free life.

It is possible to recover from addiction. It takes a holistic multi-faceted approach which fully addresses all aspects of addiction, including changing one’s lifestyle.  


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.