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Finding a New Normal in Addiction Recovery


A major challenge in addiction recovery is change. Change is scary. It is much easier to simply keep doing what you’ve been doing. But for those overcoming active addiction, this is not an option if they want to enter long-term recovery. Change is an essential part of the process and a building block of executive drug and alcohol treatment programs. If clients keep doing what they’ve always done, the outcome could one day be fatal.

While in a San Diego rehab facility, clients are in a safe environment. They have no access to drugs or alcohol and are surrounded by support 24 hours a day. Their time is spent focusing on the challenges they face, creating healthier patterns of thinking and behavior, healing their body and mind, and preparing themselves to transition back into society. Although they may have had community outings, leaving the security of rehab and going home can be difficult. It requires them to find a new normal and adapt to their surroundings.

When the Novelty Wears Off

The first few days or weeks of recovery can be empowering. Clients are motivated to succeed and excited – albeit a bit scared – to implement what they’ve learned. They are ready to get back to their family, friends, career, and life. But the excitement can wear off as reality sets in. The changes they’re making are ones that they need to follow through with every day. It takes focus, effort, and work not to slip back into old routines. The things they used to do may not be right for them anymore. For some, this can be a trigger into relapse. But it doesn’t have to be. With the right supports and system in place, clients can keep pushing forward and rediscover who they are.

What is a New Normal?

Things change in addiction recovery. Clients can’t settle back into the same actions, behaviors, and thoughts they once had. They need to turn things around and go in a different direction. Their life may not seem like their own at first, but in time it will become more comfortable and familiar. They’ll replace old habits and routines with new ones and carry on without the influence of drugs or alcohol in their life.

Self Discovery

Part of finding a new normal is self discovery. What really matters to you? What is important? In rehab, you’ll get to know more about yourself. You can explore interests you may not have known you had and try new things. It’s important to avoid the temptation of comparing yourself to others. What makes them happy and what works for their recovery may not work for you. There is no black and white as to what “normal” is; it differs for everyone.

Make time each day to work on yourself. Journal, meditate, engage in activities to help you de-stress and unwind. Become more comfortable with who you are now that drugs and alcohol are not part of your life. Start setting goals for yourself that hold important to you and are meaningful for you to achieve – not just things you think others want to see you do.


You’ll probably have to cut some ties and re-evaluate your relationships. The friends you had when you were in active addiction may no longer be a good influence. You may find that you don’t have much in common anymore now that you are sober and they lead to temptation to use. Even other friends who aren’t struggling with addiction themselves may not be healthy for you. Consider the type of person you are now and what you want from your life and future. Surround yourself with those who support these goals and make you want to be a better person.

Keep in mind that family members and friends will also have to do some changing. Because you are in recovery, you may have to change some of your hangout spots or the activities you do together. Help them to better understand what they can do to be supportive and build a stronger relationship.

Routine and Structure

With a new “normal” comes new routines and schedules. These can take time to adjust and adapt to. Having set times for certain activities can keep you moving forward and give you something to look forward to. As you progress in your recovery you won’t have to plan things out as much because you’ll do them out of habit; they’ll be things that you’ve done routinely and are accustomed to. But in the early stages of recovery, setting a schedule can be important and keep you active. This can also allow you to get back into the swing of things and feel more comfortable.

Keep in mind that your routines may not look the same as someone else’s. Do what is right for you, your family, and your lifestyle. Keep things simple and try to avoid overextending yourself and getting stressed out. Focus on the activities that are most important for each day. Remember that it’s okay to say no. You know what you can comfortably handle.

One Day at a Time

Take life one day at a time. You can’t change yesterday and tomorrow hasn’t come yet. In time you will find your groove and recovery will become part of your new normal as you enjoy all that life has to offer. Don’t worry if you don’t think you’re measuring up to someone else. Your journey is your own.

Shift your life into a better place with drug and alcohol treatment at Chapters Capistrano. Engage in flexible approaches to treatment, comprehensive care, and activities that meet your individual needs and prepare you for long-term recovery. Contact Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198 to get started.