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When someone has been through inpatient or outpatient alcohol treatment, they can often feel out of their depth when they return home after completing a treatment program. Some report a feeling of being lost or disconnected from the world around them which looks different after spending time in an alcohol rehab center.

At Elevate, we take considerable time to ensure patients are eased through the transition from inpatient alcohol rehab back into home life with aftercare, which provides additional support throughout recovery. Nevertheless, it is good to know what to expect in the first days, weeks and months of recovery so that this transition can be managed effectively.

This article focuses on individuals who leave a drug or alcohol rehab center without opting for continued aftercare or recovery support and examines the kind of challenges they will face.

Common Experiences in Early Recovery

Here we list the common problems people experience in early recovery. It is important to consult a physician or therapist if any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment is required.

Extreme Tiredness/Exhaustion

Although it might be expected for people to bound out of the drug and alcohol rehab center fully invigorated by their experience and ready to face recovery challenges; this is not always the case. The human body takes a while to recover from abuse, particularly if the person was abusing drugs or alcohol for years.

During early recovery, the brain and vital organs will still be regenerating and this process often leads to people feeling as though they could sleep for months. It is important to continue healing in early recovery and also to recognize that this takes time.

Potential Solutions:

  • Aim to sleep for a minimum of 8 hours at night
  • Scale back commitments to allow for recovery time
  • Try yoga or meditation to promote natural relaxation


Despite the feelings of extreme tiredness, people very often find it difficult to sleep when they first return home from a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. This is mainly because their bodies have become used to using substances to the point of passing out.

In drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, clients will be shown healthier ways of promoting healthy sleep patterns although it will still take time to adjust when they return home. Although people may struggle to achieve a decent night’s sleep in early recovery, eventually sleep patterns should normalize.

Potential Solutions:

  • Turn off devices around two hours before going to bed
  • Create a calming environment in the bedroom
  • Use aromatherapy such as lavender essential oils

Feeling Sad Or Down

The effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain are significant. As with all other aspects of addiction treatment, healing takes time. When people have become used to using substances to make themselves feel better, it takes time for them to adjust to producing the same “feel-good” chemicals naturally.

If individuals experience these feelings for more than two weeks or find that it is disrupting their lives, they should consider seeking treatment for depression.

Potential Solutions:

  • Increasing physical exercise to boost endorphin production
  • Paying attention to diet and nutrition and eating healthily
  • Seeking company of other people who are positive and buoyant

Physical Illness

When people are treated for substance abuse, their immune systems start to work overtime. This is mainly because of the build-up of toxins in the body from prolonged substance abuse. Withdrawal symptoms are generally at their worst during detox although the natural cleansing process continues for some time after abstinence.

Potential Solutions:

  • Make lifestyle changes to improve health such as exercising and eating a healthy diet
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water rather than coffee or fizzy drinks
  • Seek medical assistance if symptoms persist

Stress and Feeling Overwhelmed

It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed when returning home after attending a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Individuals spend considerable time attempting to numb and escape their feelings with drugs and alcohol. Inpatient alcohol rehab will have prepared individuals very well for recovery but they may still feel intimidated by the prospect of “flying solo.”

Potential Solutions:

  • Find activities that relieve stress such as yoga, journaling, meditation or exercise
  • Take time to work on self-compassion and adjust expectation levels

Feelings of Disconnection

Prolonged substance abuse can lead to people feeling disconnected from their daily lives after inpatient alcohol rehab. This is because it may feel completely abnormal to be sober and some people may be particularly vulnerable to cravings at this time.

Potential Solutions:

  • Find activities that increase engagement with others like social events, mutual support meetings, guided meditation and spending time with friends and family

Aftercare as Additional Support in Early Recovery

An aftercare program is considered to be a crucial component of addiction treatment. This is because it helps people manage the transition from the sanctity of a rehab center and back into daily life. This transition often exposes peoples’ vulnerabilities which is why extra therapeutic support is vital. Some people find themselves engaging in abusive behaviors in the early days of recovery which is commonly due to a lack of support. The objective of Elevate’s addiction treatment and aftercare is to ensure clients heal at their own pace, armed with an arsenal of coping skills to help them deal with their new lives in recovery.

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