After getting out of rehab, many veterans are left feeling rudderless. So much of life during addiction was devoted to the pursuit of drugs and alcohol that they simply don’t know what to do with their time after achieving sobriety. This is where the essential element of recovery capital comes into play: building yourself a life after addiction that’s worth living.
The Lifestyle Imbalance of Addiction
According to the American Psychiatric Association, one of the key criteria for a drug or alcohol use disorder is spending inordinate amounts of time using, seeking, or recovering from drug use. As such, many veterans find themselves with a great deal of free time after achieving abstinence. If this time is left unfilled, it can quickly lead to feelings of boredom, restlessness, and despair.
Unsurprisingly, this can quickly lead to someone relapsing soon after getting out of rehab. In fact, the leading scientific model for relapse lists this lifestyle imbalance as the very first step in the relapse process.
Put simply, life after addiction needs to be worth living. Recovery after rehab should be enjoyable, rewarding, and fulfilling. Too often, people equate the tasks of recovery to work: call your sponsor, talk to a therapist, avoid certain situations, and so on. While these are helpful tools to help overcome cravings and process negative emotions, they aren’t sufficient to maintain long-term sobriety.
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Defining Recovery Capital
Recovery capital is defined as the set of internal and external resources that a person has to help them stay sober. Put another way, it’s the good things in life that make returning to substance use seem like a bad idea. Friendships, hobbies, work, and purpose: all of these things contribute to recovery capital and serve as the best relapse prevention strategy a veteran can find.
Creating Recovery Capital
Creating recovery capital is the best way to address a lifestyle imbalance created by addiction. After getting out of rehab, veterans need to find productive ways to spend their time. By taking the energy you put into your addiction into healthy and enjoyable activities, you can create a life that you would never trade for substance use.
For example, somebody could start an exercise routine in early recovery. This would serve to fill empty time, improve your physical and mental health, and may even introduce you to new people in sobriety.
Another example might be giving back to your community. This could be through recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or volunteering your time at a local cause.
Lastly, somebody might find meaningful work that they are truly enthusiastic about. They may then be excited to learn new ways to improve their skills, network with colleagues, and achieve success.
Building Balance with Recovery Capital
The key elements that all of these activities have in common are:
- They give a sense of purpose and meaningfulness to the veteran engaged in them
- They are inherently rewarding
- They are in direct contradiction with a life of substance use
Over time, having spent your time building recovery capital means that you create a life that is directly opposed to returning to addiction. When cravings or urges pop up, these activities push back. It might seem oversimplified, but it is not uncommon for people to resist the urge to drink because they know people rely on them at a 12-step meeting, have an important work project due, or have other goals that are incompatible with substance use.
Essentially, recovery capital gives veterans resources they can draw on to maintain recovery. There are several domains to recovery capital, and you can work on each of them in turn after getting out of rehab:
- Personal capital
- Social capital
- Community capital
- Emotional capital
- Commitment capital
- Well-being capital
By building capital in these domains, veterans in early recovery can create a well of strength to draw upon when times get tough.
How Heroes’ Mile Helps Vets Build a Life After Addiction
At Heroes’ Mile, we understand that veterans have specific needs during and after alcohol rehab or drug treatment. Part of that is helping our clients to plan and execute a healthy and productive life after addiction.
Part of our method for helping our clients after getting out of rehab is extensive discharge planning while still in treatment. Discharge planning isn’t a last-minute endeavor: it starts from day one. By collaborating closely with veterans in individual counseling and group therapy, we aim to target each veteran’s specific needs for recovery after rehab and help to formulate a plan for your success.
In addition, Heroes’ Mile places a heavy emphasis on building community. Social support is a key component of adjusting to life after rehab, and the frequent group meetings and 12-step facilitation provided by our program are designed to provide just that.
Since we are a veterans-only rehab, we can build sober communities of veterans that simply aren’t achievable at a standard addiction treatment center. This means you can be surrounded by peers and professionals that truly understand your situation.
From detox to inpatient, to outpatient and beyond, Heroes’ Mile has your six. We strive to make sure that every veteran who comes to us to receive care for a substance use disorder gets long-lasting support by providing a variety of care levels. Whether you need intensive residential care or long-term outpatient treatment, we have an option that will fit your needs and schedule.
Contact Heroes’ Mile Today
Heroes’ Mile is a substance use treatment center for veterans, by veterans. We only accept clients with veteran status because we understand that military service can have a lasting impact on your life and that sometimes civilians just can’t relate. When you’re ready to start seeking care, or just need support during life after addiction, call our team at 1-888-VET-NOW2. Recovery is possible through common ground – and the professional team at Heroes’ Mile is here to help.