group of people staying motivated with their addiction and mental health recovery

If you’re moving out of addiction treatment, you have a long road in front of you. For many, that path of recovery, where you have to spend years fighting cravings and rebuilding your life, can seem overwhelming. The truth is, you do have a long road in front of you. It’s important that you acknowledge that and build a foundation on which you can maintain continued recovery. That often means treating recovery like you would any other life goal. Most importantly, that means you need more than motivation, you need a strict sense of discipline and habits to keep you going.

When does recovery end? Never. You’ll always have to stay ready to resist cravings. You’ll always be one step away from using or drinking again. However, as time passes, addiction and cravings are pressing parts of your life less and less often. You’ll spend less energy staying in recovery – but you’ll still need the habits, motivation, and structure you built to resist cravings some of the time.

Building Good Habits

It’s important to keep in mind that staying in recovery will be something you’re doing with the rest of your life. As long as you don’t relapse, you are in recovery. That is your life now. That means you need to plan your recovery for the long term. It has to be sustainable, achievable, and replicable. And that means basing your recovery on good habits and good foundations. Chances are very high that you learn the basics of these in your recovery center. However, they are:

  • Exercise, usually at least 30 minutes per day, to keep your energy levels, mood, and physical health up
  • Eat well, following the guidelines of something like MyPlate.gov to ensure that at least 80% of what you eat is nutritious and good for you.
  • Avoid caffeine and a lot of sugary foods, which can sabotage your recovery
  • Get up and go to bed at about the same time every day, ensuring that you get about 8 hours of sleep every night, so you are well rested and not fatigued
  • Spend 15-20 minutes per day taking care of your space so you feel good about it
  • Invest in making time to have fun and to relax with friends and family
  • Invest in hobbies, especially things that you make or do with your hands because this makes you feel good about yourself and is good for your self-esteem.
  • Set goals for yourself so you can work towards achieving things. Start small, with things like “staying in recovery for 3 months” and then move on to things that improve your life, like buying a car, getting a certain job, etc.

Essentially, you need to build a quality life for yourself. You need structure and good habits. You need to have fun with people. You need things to do with your time. And, that act of building things for yourself should be part of your motivation to stay in recovery.

Understanding Why You Want to Stay in Recovery

Understanding why you want to stay in recovery is an important part of maintaining motivation to stay there. For example, if you know what you’re aiming for and what you’re getting out of it, you can motivate yourself to stay away from things that hurt your goals. You want to know:

  • What you want out of recovery
  • What you’re getting out of recovery
  • How recovery impacts your friends, family, and loved ones
  • How relapse impacts your friends, family and loved ones
  • What you’re trying to do with your life
  • How relapse gets in the way of that

Often, it will be a good idea to sit down and regularly rework that list. For example, if you change your goals, you’ll still want your motivations and reasons to stay in recovery to make sense for you. Some examples include:

  • I want to stay in recovery because it allows me to find meaning and joy in my life
  • I want to stay in recovery because it allows me to be a better parent
  • I want to stay in recovery because my daughter needs me
  • I want to stay in recovery because I can be creative and do the things I want to do
  • I want to stay in recovery because…

You don’t have to use the same format, but make sure you understand your objectives, and don’t be afraid to put down even tiny things that don’t seem like they matter to most people.

a disciplined woman doing some exercises

Discipline is More Important than Motivation

As time goes by, you’ll likely find that motivation goes up and down. One day you’ll wake up with no motivation at all. Other days, you’ll be inspired to move mountains for your goals. You can’t rely on it. Therefore, you’ll want to build discipline. That means understanding that you’re not using because you have good reasons not to, you’re not using because you’re inspired to stay clean and sober, you’re not using because you don’t want to be an addict and you set those boundaries for yourself. Staying in recovery should be just like going to work, staying at work, making yourself a meal, and going to bed. You do it because you set those boundaries for yourself and you uphold them. That will eventually get you through a lot more days than motivation ever will.

How do you get there? By treating recovery like something you decided to do for yourself and that you will stick to. It’s your life and you get to choose, you set the boundaries, and you work within those boundaries to make the best life that you can.

Getting Follow-Up Treatment & Aftercare

It’s important to ensure that you get ongoing mental health support and treatment, even after leaving your rehab facility. That can mean short-term support in the form of ongoing treatment after you leave rehab. You can also go to a sober home where you can stay for up to 2 years. That will mean getting daily support and guidance as you work to rebuild your life. In other cases, simply attending ongoing counseling, getting follow-up support when you start to struggle, and attending alumni events will be enough. Most people need a mix of ongoing treatment or self-help and support groups. This means you may want to talk to your rehab center and your counselor to get advice on what you should do to follow up treatment. In addition, you may want to schedule checkups every 3-6 months to ensure you’re still doing okay so you can get additional treatment when and where you need it.

Therapy is a normal and healthy part of life. There’s no reason why you can’t get counseling and therapy 5 years after rehab. It will give you the tools to stay in rehab which means you will have the tools to stay healthy and to stay in recovery. That will, eventually, help you to stay motivated.

Staying motivated for recovery is important. It’s also important to have good structure, to build discipline, and to get help when you need it. That, plus understanding your goals and where you want to be will help you to work towards staying motivated for recovery and for building a better life for yourself.

If you or a loved one needs help with mental health treatmentdrug rehab, or alcohol rehab Compassion Recovery Center is here to help. Contact us to learn more.