On discharge from rehab, it can feel both daunting and rewarding. You’ll have the tools and intentions to lead a sober lifestyle, likely to be something you’ve hoped for, for a while. Yet with such a change and achievement comes the risks and worries of relapse.

The reality of life after rehab can be a positive one. You can lead a fulfilled life, whilst normalising drug and alcohol-free choices, habits, and routines. Yet to maintain your lifestyle, there will be some post-rehab steps to focus on. From completing aftercare and strengthening relapse prevention planning, to working through the milestones of sobriety, you can have some control over your recovery journey.

There is a lot to the recovery process, manoeuvring through a journey of self-development. You’ll need to focus on minimising drug and alcohol exposure and on coping through triggers while also forming new, healthy habits. Yet with a plan of action, ongoing support, and some goals to reach for, reaching the other side, as sober, is possible.

Here’s some insight into ‘what happens after rehab?’, offering a snippet into the reality of a recovering addict. We can help you reach this milestone here at Addiction Advocates.


The reality of life after rehab

Once rehab has been completed, you can of course celebrate. Addiction recovery is a rewarding process to fulfil, as it’s life-changing and even saving in some cases. Yet through your celebrations, you will need to be mindful of your position and vulnerability as a newly sober individual.

Drug and alcohol exposure and consumption should be avoided, up until you have the tools, confidence, and milestones behind you to tackle exposure. Consumption will be discouraged as an ongoing commitment, to remain sober.

Alongside celebrating, this is the time to plan, to present gratitude, to make some changes and to home in on your recovery tools. Many obstacles can appear, especially throughout early recovery.  Relapse risks are high through initial steps, possible to reduce by being mindful, engaged in your recovery journey and committed to post-rehab plans.

As your recovery experience continues, it will get easier to make sober choices, avoid drug and alcohol exposure, and feel happy without their presence. You’ll even revert parts of your life to a sense of normality, whilst feeling reborn in others.

Over the next 30 days, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and beyond, sobriety can be maintained by the following advice and partaking in post-rehab steps. Here are some steps to consider whilst planning for ‘what happens after rehab?’.


Post-rehab steps

From your lifestyle choices to how you schedule your time, there are many steps that you can control, to remain sober. Reasonably, the recovery process is unpredictable and can cause many obstacles. Yet with planning comes the ability to work through risks, helping you confidently leave rehab.



Aftercare is a service that will begin straight after rehab. It will be arranged through your original rehab clinic, likely within your local area. You’ll have access to 12 months of aftercare support, which should fit into your schedule.

Sessions should be prioritised through early recovery, as aftercare offers many benefits. It provides a network of support, it offers guidance through any possible challenges, it sets weekly milestones, it maintains motivation and it instils accountability.

The type of aftercare services that are offered to you will depend on your addiction type. Yet ongoing therapy and 12-step programmes, along with attending narcotics anonymous and alcoholics anonymous support groups are commonly recommended.


Relapse prevention planning

Relapse prevention planning begins throughout active rehab. Yet it mostly benefits what happens after rehab.

Throughout planning sessions, education on relapse, the risks and personal triggers will be provided. Awareness will help with planning for expected drug and alcohol exposure, on a post-rehab basis. Although you’ll have the knowledge and tools to keep a clean house and to disassociate yourself from drugs and alcohol, substances will still exist. Relapse prevention planning will help you plan for unpredictable or unplanned exposure, by offering preventive measures and coping strategies.

Making use of relapse prevention planning will be encouraged as you progress through post-rehab recovery.


Lifestyle changes

To work through post-rehab steps, lifestyle changes will be necessary. After rehab, you’ll return home, likely faced with your old environments, associations, and triggers. Although your cravings to consume drugs and alcohol will have diminished, although you’ll be in good spirits, although you’ll have the tools to continue as sober, and although you’ll have support and plans in place, triggers can still resurface. For some, the novelty of recovery can soon dwindle, posing a risk.

The best way you can help yourself on a post-rehab basis will be to remove any form of association that triggers your habits. Whether that’s a change in environment, adapted routine, a healthier diet or a change in a circle, alterations will make your recovery journey that bit easier.

You should aim for a balanced and healthy lifestyle that brings value to your life, keeps you busy, helps with your mental health and keeps you connected.

You should also work to rebuild any damaged relationships, focus on self-development, find positive coping strategies, and form a healthy relationship with yourself.


Sobriety milestones

The above steps are recommended to ease your post-rehab journey and strengthen your recovery rates. Over the next year of recovery, you should also set some goals to work through the milestones of sobriety. Below is what you can expect over the next year, along with the type of milestones you can achieve after rehab.


30 days

30 days post-rehab is the first milestone to aim for. Within this time, you will have returned home, away from rehab and its recovery-driven setting. You’ll need to be very mindful through the first milestone of your surroundings, behaviours, and choices.

It’s encouraged that you search for the quality support, attend your first sessions of aftercare, set yourself some future goals, and ease yourself into a healthy lifestyle throughout this period.


3 months

3 months after rehab, your new lifestyle will start to feel normal. However, this isn’t a time to become complacent, as relapse risks are still high. A sustainable schedule of aftercare should have been created by this point. It’s also recommended that you focus on starting a new hobby, look to the future from a career perspective and work closely with professionals towards the next milestone.


6 months

A key milestone of sobriety is the 6-month marker. Up to this point, you may have experienced some obstacles. Yet to get this far is a noteworthy commitment, worth continuing.

As your life will have changed 6 months in, this will be the time to revisit your relapse prevention plan, set yourself some personal goals and also focus on your relationships and responsibilities.

A true sense of normality can be felt 6 months after rehab.


1 year sober

Reaching 1 year as sober is highly rewarding. You should praise yourself, by manoeuvring through such a significant form of self-development.

This is now the time to enjoy your sober lifestyle, share your success and inspire others to attend rehab, move on with your life, and truly stabilise your mind.

Although mindfulness should continue, to avoid triggers and exposure, normal day-to-day commitments can resume.

If you’re wondering ‘what happens after rehab?’, the experience will pan out differently for every person. Yet there are some post-rehab steps that you can take to make sure that yours is a rewarding and fulfilling journey.

Long-term sobriety is a realistic goal. Yet to reach such a milestone, you will need to invest in yourself. Start the process through rehab, to treat and manage your addiction.

At Addiction Advocates we’re here to offer advice through your rehab admission, along with supporting our clients throughout the entire recovery process. Reach out if you have any questions about active rehab or post-rehab life.