It’s often observed that much of what we term ‘relapse’ occurs in the first few months post-treatment. That made me wonder about what advice we could give people coming out of inpatient rehab. Some of my thoughts on the subject:

First, resist the temptation to plan out more than 24 hours at a time. This actually takes a little discipline. Every day, at day’s end, ask yourself: what am I going to make sure I get done tomorrow, no matter what? Then when tomorrow arrives, focus on that. Warning: to increase the likelihood you’ll actually get through the list, don’t schedule too much to do.

Next, build into your routine at least one activity per day that is purely in support of recovery. Make sure it’s at least one hour or longer. You want this to be a priority, even if you have to let something else slide.

Then: Slow down. Get a lot of rest. Don’t skip meals. Avoid feeling that you have to fill up every free moment with activity. It isn’t really necessary, and it just increases your stress level.

Also, meditate or pray daily. The method you choose doesn’t matter. Whatever feels right.

At the end of each day, make a list of what went right. Focus on that rather than the things that didn’t.

When something comes up that you don’t know how to deal with, do nothing. Promise yourself that if the problem, whatever it is, is still there a few days or a week from now, you’ll take care of it. The idea is to give certain problems an opportunity to go away by themselves (which surprisingly many will do.)

Make a contact list of people you can call for perspective on your problems. At this early point in recovery, the main ‘slippery person’ to watch out for is yourself. It’s important to be able to get out of your head and get an outside viewpoint rather than making a bad decision based solely on your judgment.

Anyway, those are my recommendations.