Life After Rehab
One of the common fears for those about to leave addiction treatment facilities is social isolation. If most of your relationships have been based around alcohol or drugs, it is understandable that you will have concerns about how you can cope without it. The good news is that the vast majority of people on this planet are able to build a social network without the need of alcohol or drugs. Here are five tips for how you can do this too.
1. Learn to Ignore Your Negative Inner Soundtrack
Many of us initially turn to alcohol or drugs because we just don’t feel comfortable in our own skin – this may be due to some type of psychological trauma or just low self-esteem. This discomfort around other people will usually be experienced as negative inner-chatter such as “I sound stupid”, “he/she doesn’t’ like me”, and “I’ve just made a fool of myself”. It is usually this inner soundtrack that makes being with other people so difficult rather than the reality of the situation.
Approaches such as mindfulness can help you to experience your inner soundtrack in a more objective way. Loving-kindness meditation can also be a huge help. You can also use the ABC model (a tool from CBT) to challenge these unhelpful thoughts. So long as you continue to work on your sobriety, you are going to find that your self-esteem improves over time.
2. Make an Effort to Meet People
If we don’t make an effort to meet other people, it is hardly a surprise if our social life is a bit limited. You need to get out there and get involved in the world if you want to meet new friends. Some of the best options for building your social network would include joining a class, attending a gym, or starting a hobby that is going to bring you in contact with others.
3. Show an Interest in Other People
Those of us who fall into addiction tend to be incredibly self-absorbed. This obsession with our own needs and concerns can be off-putting to other people because it gives the impression that we only care about ourselves. If you want other people to like you, it is important to be interested in them. This needs to be a genuine interest and not any type of fake flattery.
4. Learn How to Listen
Learning how to listen is one of the most important skills when it comes to developing relationships. While the other person is speaking, you need to give them all of your attention – it is important not to be spending this time thinking about what you want to say next. It is also recommended that you to wait until you are sure the other person has stopped talking before you speak – this makes you a good listener.
5. Get Involved in the Recovery Community
The easiest way to begin building your social network is to get involved in the recovery community. These are people who understand where you are coming from, and this can make a huge difference in early sobriety. If you engage in some type of service (e.g. greeting new members at AA meetings), you are likely to quickly have a collection of people who you will consider to be friends.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process