How Do I Avoid Triggers When Returning To Work and Old Routines?

The process of transitioning from being an addiction recovery patient in rehab to living an independent, sober lifestyle needs to begin long before you are discharged. Planning can avoid potential pitfalls and unnecessary triggers and is an integral step to the addiction recovery process. You can not afford to let the “pink cloud” bliss and relief of initial sobriety that masks the very real complications and work that lies ahead in maintaining that well-earned sobriety. Much of the work will entail being aware of potential, individualistic triggers that may potentially lead you to relapse, and then implementing the necessary preventative measures to avoid those triggers in the first place. 

Although no transition will be completely ideal and without its fair share of speed bumps along the way, planning can help avert any logistical nightmares and alleviate unwanted and unnecessary stressors. Achieving initial sobriety is only the first step, and much of the work for addiction recovery patients comes in maintaining that sobriety. Thankfully rehab centers like Choice House are well prepared to assist those in recovery in making the difficult decisions about avoiding triggers when re-entering the workforce or even when heading back home.

As an addiction recovery patient, you need to remember that you cannot merely re-insert yourself into your old life — the past life you once lived is filled with potential triggers. Instead of discussing it in terms of re-entering your old life, you are more accurately beginning a new, sober life. Much of the difficulty of this new sober life, though, is in deciding which parts of your old life can be merged with those healthier lifestyle attitudes you learned in rehab. You may benefit from viewing your life as before and after rehab. You may even handle this transition as you would a death in the family. A large part of your life, albeit an unhealthy addiction, is over, and you would be wise to mourn the life you left behind to begin to start anew.

Returning To Work Or Heading Home

When leaving rehab, returning to both work and home life can provide potential triggers as both activities run the risk of allowing you to fall back into old routines and addiction-based behaviors. Humans are creatures of habits, and while you have had an extended period in rehab to develop new, healthier habits to promote continued sobriety, you have also had a lifetime to develop and repeat unhealthy habits that advocate substance misuse. Reverting to old habits is only natural, and we are not suggesting you could rewire your entire brain to eliminate all addictive behaviors in a mere 90 days. Time and repetition and repetition is what you need to maintain the habits and routines you began in rehab. 

Since long-term sobriety can not happen overnight, preventative measures need to be in place to avoid triggering situations altogether. Returning to work and home life presents one of your first challenges in the transition process. Not only do both locations serve as literal reminders to your past life consumed by addiction, but also the majority of individuals in addiction recovery do not have the luxury of finding a new home or job. 

Homelife, to an extent, can be managed through open discussion with a loved one about your comfort levels with your addictive disorder. If honest discussion with those you share a home with does not work, alternatives still exist as individuals in recovery can take this opportunity to possibly seek out a sober living home. Sober living homes are affordable, independent housing groups generally run by nonprofit organizations with the primary purpose of advocating continued abstinence from substance abuse. These discussions about housing would best be broached before leaving rehab, but the move to a sober living home can easily be made after leaving as well.

Work, on the other hand, presents a particularly larger problem for maintaining long-term sobriety as it involves increasing levels of independence that can hinder addiction recovery in two ways: 

  1. Access to Income/Money
  2. Increase in Unsupervised Free Time

Since impulse control is one of the major issues in early recovery, access to a continuous source of income from gainful employment can be a huge trigger after leaving rehab. Money presents the opportunity to purchase either drugs or alcohol and even just the inkling of a thought about being able to afford your substance of choice can set you on the path to relapse. Individuals in addiction recovery should set up online bill pay options, and if necessary, leave credit or debit cards at home in a secure location. If you have a good support network, you can even have a loved one help you by holding on to your card and maybe limiting your purchase power to an allowance each week. This can also be a helpful preventative measure if you happen to relapse — access to monetary funds will most certainly extend the length of any potential relapse.

When it comes to the increase in the unsupervised free time that work will afford individuals in early recovery, your best option will be to fill any amount of free time with activities that actively promote sobriety maintenance. Attend meetings during lunch breaks, plan to exercise during any remaining free time, and then attend more meetings at the end of your shift instead of heading to the usual happy hour at a bar or restaurant. If you already have a hobby such as playing music, reading, drawing, or painting, try getting back into it by scheduling out a specific practice time and see if you still like your hobby with a sober frame of mind. Chances are you have not given your hobby that much attention recently, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy it. If you do not have a hobby, then this is your chance to fill up all of that free time with some trial and error searching for what you like to do as a sober individual. Below is a shortlist of hobbies in case you are having trouble brainstorming new ones:

  • Learning An Instrument
  • Joining a Team Sport
  • Painting or Drawing
  • Swimming
  • Surfing or Skateboarding
  • Hiking or Rock Climbing
  • Writing Stories
  • Joining a Book Club
  • Gardening
  • Photography
  • Cooking
  • Dancing


If you need treatment for an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has the dual-diagnosis treatment method to help set you on the path to addiction recovery. We offer men the opportunity to achieve sobriety as they also learn how to abstain from substance misuse by creating a new foundation of love, empathy, and understanding. Utilizing a variety of therapeutic modalities, our addiction recovery program includes a 90-day inpatient service, an intensive outpatient program, as well as the opportunity to be a resident at our sober living campus. Choice House facilities are ideally situated in the Boulder County, Colorado area just minutes from the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park and a short drive from the bustling city of Louisville. We take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountains literally in our backyard and employ a unique outdoor wilderness therapy that allows men to create life-lasting bonds of friendship through physical activity like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. We strongly believe that these friendships will prove vital to your recovery efforts long after you have left our facilities. The proximity to Louisville is also beneficial to both residents at our sober living campus as well as any individuals seeking outpatient services. Addiction recovery clients will get the guidance and supervision so necessary in early recovery while still being allowed to transition back into the workforce and even maintain a social life. For more information about Choice House facilities and programs of service, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.

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