How Your Social Life May Change After Rehab

Making the commitment to care for your mind, body, and spirit means treating your addiction and working to avoid relapsing in the future. In recovery, you learn about the root causes of your addiction and discover new ways to manage your emotions, challenges, and triggers without returning to substance use. As a result, your social life in recovery may change after rehab.

The transition into addiction recovery can be full of emotional, physical, and social changes. Some of these develop quickly and some take time. One of the first changes that you will notice is that your social life will change. When you are using drugs and alcohol, your focus is narrow. Your life after rehab might feel wider and more open. This can feel great, or it might make you feel a little anxious.

Whatever stage of recovery you’re in, thinking about what you want your life to look like can help you prepare for and enjoy your fresh start after rehab.

What Will My Social Life in Recovery Look Like?

When you are in rehab, your day is scheduled for you. Meals, activities, and therapies occur on a regular, predictable schedule. Your social life mainly consists of the other people in the program, and you are likely to have a built-in community of support surrounding you on a daily basis.

And then, you are discharged from the program. After rehab, it becomes your responsibility to fill your time and make sure your own needs are consistently met. This includes re-building a new, healthy social life. When thinking about what your social life in recovery might look like, there are some important things to consider.

First, your main goal should be to avoid people and situations that might be triggering. This most likely means that you may have to avoid many of the people with whom you used to spend a lot of time.

A good social life should consist of four things: support, activities, rest, and reflection. Spend time with people who support your recovery. Engage in activities that are fulfilling and enjoyable. Make time for rest. Keep up with therapy and group support so that you can stay aware of your emotions, stresses, and triggers. Your goal should be to find a good balance between meaningful activity, active recovery support, and time for rest and relaxation.

Imagining Your Life After Rehab

One of the most important aspects of staying sober is being fully committed to your life after recovery. If you only think about the relationships and activities you must leave behind, it might be harder to maintain your commitment to recovery. That’s why it’s really important to have a positive view of what life after rehab might be like, and to be intentional about finding fulfilling activities to enjoy as you navigate sobriety.

To stay positive about your post-rehab social life, let your imagination work. Think about what kind of life you’d like to have. Is it an active life full of friends? Or a quiet, creative life? Do you crave new experiences and adventures, or would you like to return to what worked before you began to struggle with your substance use? Spend some time thinking about what your ideal life looks like. Set realistic goals that move you towards that ideal lifestyle.

One of your goals will probably involve forming new relationships. There are some time-tested ways to make new sober friends, including:

  • Attend 12-step meetings or other recovery support groups
  • Look out for sober events like concerts and festivals
  • Host sober parties with good food and entertainment
  • Explore dry bars in your city
  • Build friendships with like-minded or supportive family members
  • Re-connect with sober friends, family, or coworkers who you have lost touch with

You don’t need dozens of new friends. Focus on finding one or two people with who you can enjoy sober activities. Your sober social circle will naturally expand as you venture out into the world a little more. You should focus on finding quality over quality when it comes to your social life in recovery.

Moving Forward After Recovery

An important part of rehab is gaining an understanding of your addiction and how the people in your life may have contributed to or supported it. As you build a new social life, you may find that it may be more difficult or confusing than your expected, especially if you are still working on your self-confidence.

You may also find that the transition between the highly structured rehab environment and “real life” is difficult. Combat this by making and sticking to a new, post-rehab routine. Schedule meals, chores, work, rest, and social activities. If you found a new, fulfilling activity in rehab, make time for it after the program finishes. Recreation therapy activities like hiking, caring for animals, or art and music can usually be incorporated into your post-rehab life.

Addiction often narrows your focus to only drugs and alcohol and the people you’re with while using them. After rehab, the world is open. This can be exciting–or anxiety-producing. Either way, keep going to therapy, stay active in your recovery, and focus on the people and activities that make you feel safe and supported in your sobriety.

CWC Recovery Will Teach You How to Enjoy Your Social Life in Recovery

If you or someone you love need supportive substance abuse treatment, please reach out to the staff at Comprehensive Wellness Centers. We offer a range of programs designed to help you overcome your addiction and stay sober for the rest of your life. We believe that you should live the life you choose–not the one your addiction chooses for you.

If you are ready for life-changing treatment, call us today.

Medically Reviewed: June 17, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer | CWC Recovery Staff

Clinical Team

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Content on this page has been reviewed by CWC Medical Staff for accuracy.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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