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How to Rebuild Your Life After Addiction

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 24, 2024

Table of Contents

Once you’ve completed a stay at an addiction treatment center like an Orange County rehab and return to life, the real work to restart a new life after addiction begins. Addiction is a complex intermingled pattern of physical and mental discomfort.

While there are support options in place to help, such as sober living homes, the problem can still be difficult to deal with.

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It takes a considerably long time and perseverance to unravel the various root causes and triggers. The process of addiction treatment and recovery entails dismantling your life, clearing the state, and starting fresh.

This is an overwhelming prospect as you may be further down the career path than your peers who may have more successful relationships.

Consider this an exciting new start, though.

While in rehab you will have learned about the causes of your addiction and develop strategies to cope with life’s struggles healthily. This is a chance to put those new skills into practice.

This is an opportunity to live the life you want. Yes, it will be difficult. But, addiction is tougher than recovery.

The essential aspect of recovery is maintaining a positive state of mind.

Addiction is rooted in negative emotions and core beliefs rooted in childhood. In rehab, you will have gained an insight into how certain beliefs drive your compulsion to take substances. Addictive behavior happens when we are unhappy, so the trick is to learn to navigate those emotions and use positive coping strategies.

Rebuilding Your Life After Alcohol and Drugs

There is a famous quote from AA that says substance abuse is associated with “people, things, and places.” You could also call this “playmates, playthings, and playgrounds.”

Rebuilding your life means leaving those people who negatively impact your mental health behind and redirecting your energies towards people who lift you and support your recovery.

It’s a difficult aspect of recovery, but you may have to cut ties with those people with who you used to drink or take drugs. When you are stronger then it may be possible to engage with these people again.

In the beginning, only surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and won’t try to tempt you to drink or take drugs.

While in rehab, you will forge new friendships with people who are also committed to their recovery.

You will need to avoid those places that trigger cravings such as bars where you used to drink, parks, and people’s houses.

This is an opportunity to grow and return to the things you used to love doing before you became addicted.

Repair Your Relationships After Addiction

You’ll also want to start rebuilding the relationships with the people you hurt while you were substance use impaired.

One of the 12 steps is to create a moral inventory. This is a difficult exercise as it requires you to examine the ways you have harmed people in your life. You then approach those people and ask for forgiveness.

It takes courage to admit your shortfalls and wrongdoings, but this exercise is a key step to healing your inner wounds.

You may have stolen from people or damaged their property. Approach those people and replace what you took from them. Even if a person doesn’t know, doing this will gain their respect and trust.

If you do this you will experience a great deal of healing which will set you restart an amazing new life. It will take time and patience as you will need to build trust.

When you approach those people, acknowledge how you hurt them, and ask for forgiveness. Some may not want to know you. This is painful, but accepting the pain and understanding why is part of the healing process.

If a person can’t forgive you right away, don’t get angry, but don’t beat yourself up either. This could take a long time. Keep persevering, accept the situation and in time they may choose to forgive you.

Establishing a Healthy Routine After Addiction

You’ll be much stronger, calmer, and focused by setting a foundation for feeling good.

Good mental health starts with feeling good about yourself. To feel happy you can boost the three feel-good chemicals: serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine.

When addicted your brain craves dopamine. Rather than turn to a substance to feel-good you can boost your dopamine levels naturally.

Good nutrition, plenty of rest, exercise, learning, and connectedness help us to feel good about ourselves. To make this possible create a structure to your day so that you incorporate all of these elements.

When you wake up in the morning, remind yourself that you are on a positive new journey.

Before you get up plan some positive activities for your day such as:

  • Journaling
  • Try a new recipe
  • Clean your home
  • Meditate
  • Painting
  • Sports
  • Watch a film

Eat a nutritious breakfast with protein as this increases natural dopamine production. Also, try to eat some fruit as vitamins are also powerful. Cleansing drinks such as green tea, water, juices, and smoothies will boost your mood.

Before or after breakfast, get some exercise. Getting outdoors for a walk or a small jog will get those endorphins going. You could also do a morning yoga routine.

Write a list of many things you need to do. If you are going to work be prepared and have your home clean and organized for when you return home.

Tackling ‘life laundry’ tasks head-on is a marvelous way to improve your mood. Write a list and tick off each job. Do the smaller easier tasks first, then move on to the more difficult ones. You may find it easier to tackle the most difficult one first, whatever works for you.

Your list might include:

  • Applying for jobs
  • Paying bills
  • Cleaning your home
  • Attending therapy sessions
  • Hobbies

Plan your day using an organizer. Structuring your day and giving yourself time limits to achieve your goals will keep you energized and focused.

Set one hour for tidying your home, another to pay bills, another to have lunch, etc. You will discover that you get so much more done this way and reduce procrastination.

Nutrition After Leaving Rehab

It’s vital to keep eating throughout the day. If you get hungry you can start to feel stressed which will lower dopamine levels.

Foods that increase dopamine levels include:

  • Oily fish such as salmon and mackerel
  • Nuts
  • Fruit and veg

Avoid processed sugary foods and aim to eat as much natural produce as possible. Think of it as keeping your system cleansed and fueled up.

Curries are a great way to get your vitamins and incorporating spices also boosts your mood. Turmeric for instance is believed to reduce inflammation.

Planning your meals will help to structure your week. You could set an afternoon free to batch cook some meals for when you don’t feel like cooking.

Remove Toxic People From Your Post-Addiction Life

During your time in rehab, you will assess those personalities in your life that help to perpetuate your addiction.

When you leave rehab, keeping your emotions on an even is vital. Keep away from anyone who compromises your happiness to prevent you from going through the stages of relapse.

  • Guilt-Trippers: People who try to make you feel guilty to control you.
  • Jealous People: You need people who are genuinely happy about your successes.
  • Drug or alcohol users: These people may tempt you to start using again, so keep away.
  • Complainers: Self-absorbed people who won’t take responsibility for their emotions will drag you down with them.
  • Verbal abusers: People who belittle others typically do this to deflect from their inadequacies. But, verbal abuse causes stress and triggers a person’s negative core beliefs.
  • Blamers: Blamers create stress and anxiety in your life. They’ll dump more blame on you even if you try to defend yourself.
  • Enablers: Some may not like to see you doing well in your recovery and try to get you to relapse to make themselves feel better. They can be an insidious force in your life.

Some of your relationships will be rooted in your pattern of addiction. Histrionic cycles of drama are no good for your happiness.

Once you identify any toxic behaviors in people, aim to eliminate them from your life immediately as your recovery to restart a new life is most important.

Addiction Support Groups

Peer support groups will become a part of your life as these are where you discover role models whose success you can emulate as you restart a new life.

Often people will hear stories of recovery from people who have had much worse circumstances to contend with.

Use them for strength and inspiration. Due to the pandemic, peer support groups have shifted online to keep people safe. There are different types of peer support groups such as:

  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • LDS Addiction Recovery (Church of the Latter Day Saints)

Many famous people in recovery such as Anthony Hopkins, Steven Tyler, Robert Downey Jr., and Martin Sheen attribute their successful recovery to the support of AA and NA meetings.

Eminem was addicted to opioids and nearly died from an overdose. He has chosen to restart a new life and has been in recovery since 2008 and uses running to manage his compulsion to drink.

Tom Hardy was addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol as a teenager. He uses his tattoos to remind him of how far he has got in his recovery journey. He is now an A-list actor.

Stay Inspired in Life After Addiction

If things get tough it can be helpful to read books, listen to podcasts, and watch YouTube videos to help to understand what you are experiencing. Keeping yourself inspired can help you in your journey to restart a new life.

The website Heroes in Recovery is full of inspiring stories of people who are successfully battling addiction. This site is great because you realize that you are not alone and that everyone is dealing with a mental health issue of some sort.

There is a wealth of YouTube videos that you can watch. Dr. Gabor Mate is an expert on addiction. He realized that addiction is rooted in childhood. This interview on YouTube is definitely worth a watch.

Get Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

Kindness and compassion to yourself and others is the key to healing ourselves and each other. While you contend with transitioning to restart a new life you’ll have to be strong by saying no to those negative forces.

Congratulations on this opportunity to restart a new life and become the best version of you. Support is always available.

If you’re struggling and you need help today, call our friendly team at Renaissance Recovery at 866.330.9449 and we’ll get you back on track.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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