Sober living after treatment can be challenging. Without strategy and the right education from a residential treatment center, it can be difficult to prevent relapse events. Here are 5 P’s to consider when creating your sober living strategy to make finding happiness possible.

1- Plan : Make a plan. It’s great to get a 5 year plan in place so that you know what career path to choose, or if there is an occupation that you need to get certified or gain education to achieve, you can give yourself enough time to plan ahead. Along with a 5 year plan, it is also wise to plan your days, weeks, months – even if it’s just rough idea. Be open to change; life doesn’t always go according to plan, but if you have a good direction it can help you stay the course. Consider your relationships (family and friends), financial stability and physical wellbeing when making your plans. You’ve worked hard to be where you are; so invest in making life successful.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

Tip: Get a paper agenda book. Write down your plans for the weeks/days/months and keep it some where you can review it and reflect. Easy to take with you anywhere to help remind you of grocery shopping lists, family events and work schedules. Having a planner that isn’t on an electronic device will help you focus, too.

2- Proactive : Stay ahead of the game. Being proactive means reaching outside of yourself and it could include being uncomfortable. Being proactive means that you seek out relationships that are healthy, you look for ways to contribute in your community, you do the research to find the best career and study all the avenues that life has in front of you. Being proactive also means that you understand that taking care of your mind and body come first. You can have fun with your sober living plan; but don’t put yourself in situations that you know may test your sobriety.

3- Prevent : Prevent relapses by keeping temptations and stress to a minimum. Not every one that is fresh out of treatment can just go live under a rock. That is why in the residential treatment center we teach you skills to live in the real world and cope with stress in a healthy way. Being more mindful and accepting help when you need it can prevent relapses from occurring. If a relapse happens, you can still continue your sober living plan. Ensure that you get the help you need from an outpatient or support group program. Address your relapse as honestly as you can to prevent future relapses. Substance abuse can be one of the things that people rationalize after treatment. Prescription drug abuse is also something to take very seriously. Stay mindful in every choice that you make to prevent a relapse. (Also read our blog on 11 Tips for After a Relapse)

4- Patience : Have patience with yourself, with your recovery, with your process. Not everything snaps into place all at once. Keep up with your plan and if you have a bad day, tomorrow is a new one. Learn to be patient, breathe and try again. Remember that asking for help is not a weakness! Reach out to support groups, outpatient treatment programs, family, friends, therapists and keep your support system strong. Find activities that make you happy. Get outside and enjoy nature. Each day is another day that you can try harder and keep progressing towards your goals and dreams.

5- Practice : Sober living isn’t something learned in a day. It takes practice. Many people that are on the road to recovery and graduate from a residential treatment program have set backs; but with practice, each day can be more successful than the one before. Repeat healthy behaviors and practicing sober living even in the face of trials and your brain will get better at it. Our brains learn and remember with a complex system of interconnected functions. As we grow, we learn by experience. Once we’ve establish health habits, our brains can regain that higher level of activity with the right practice.

With the advent of brain imaging technology, we now know that the human brain maintains the ability to modify its structure and function throughout life through a process called experience- or learning-dependent plasticity. Such changes include the strength of connections and changes in activity that are engaged with specific actions or conditions. When comparing the brains of professional and amateur violinists as they performed, for example, scientists found that professionals exhibited higher activity in the auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes sound.

These and other findings over the past two decades have contributed greatly to our understanding of learning and memory. We now know that in order for practice to induce learning-dependent brain changes it must be meaningful, motivating, skillful, challenging and rewarding. – Does Practice Make Perfect?

The last bit of advice for sober living doesn’t start with a “P” but it ends with one: Never give up. Remember that there is hope. There are resources, support groups and people that care about you that will help you around every turn. Drug relapses can happen, but don’t be discouraged. Find a way to push through, find a silver lining and get to work. There is hope, we can help. 888-358-8998