What happens after rehab?

There was probably a time where getting to rehab seemed like an impossible feat. When the idea of going into a program felt scary or impossible, and seemed useless or perhaps even completely unnecessary. However, you got yourself there. You accepted you needed to change. And then, after a while, you had that moment when you thought “what next?!” and asked “what happens after rehab?”

For a lot of people, the thought of leaving rehab can be just as scary (or scarier) than going into rehab. Whilst you’re in a program, you have support, and there has often been a complete transformation of usual environmental factors. This is particularly so if you are part of an inpatient rehab program, where you might have stayed for 30 – 90 days.

Not knowing how you will continue your recovery and what life will be like when you leave can be stressful. So here are a few things that happen after rehab.


In rehab you start to understand your addiction and yourself. You learn new strategies and skills and start to build a tool kit for how to alter your behaviour. Developing an ongoing recovery and relapse prevention plan should be part of any good addiction recovery program.

This is a plan that you create with the support of your treatment and recovery team. It should take into consideration the triggers you have identified, your previous response behaviours, what situations can be avoided and, if there are triggers – how you can respond differently this time.

Recovery is a journey, it’s not a destination. Just like any journey you try to pack the things you need to take with you. That’s what this plan is. It’s your travel guide, sunscreen, maps, snacks, and water.

You may face a bump in the road and need to ask out for some extra help at times. That’s fine. There is always help available.


An aftercare program provides ongoing support after you have left your initial rehab program. The program is focused on relapse prevention and offers you a structure to help you build and strengthen new behaviours in your day-to-day life.

The level of support provided can be tailored to suit the individual. For some, having group meetings three times a week might be what they need, whereas an ongoing weekly counselling session might suit someone else.


A big part of life post rehab is about repairing. During your time in rehab it’s likely that you started to repair the relationship you have with yourself. That healing will continue and, with it, so will the repairing of the relationships you have with those around you. From family and friends, to work colleagues. The time that follows leaving rehab can be difficult and it is advised that you continue with some counselling sessions during your early post rehab days.

Family counselling may also be a useful tool for ensuring a healthy and safe space for everybody to strengthen bonds and regain trust.


The first year after rehab is often considered one of the hardest. Everything is new, and everything that’s old is an obstacle to overcome. Recovery isn’t always easy, but it does get easier over time. As the new skills you have acquired start to become your new normal, you will start to feel more and more relaxed in yourself and your path.

The initial difficulties you faced in living life in recovery will have been examined and identified, and your behaviours and habits will change to suit the life you are creating and who you have chosen to become.

Remember, you don’t have to do this alone. There is help and support available to you, both in rehab and afterwards.