The Importance of Therapy Following Rehab

So you have completed your rehab, you are clean and sober and feeling pretty good about yourself. What now? Is it a case of just carrying on as before, only without the substances? Some people believe this to be the case, but may soon find themselves in trouble and heading for a relapse. In order to ensure this does not happen, most people accept that more work is required.

You might have the support of a twelve step programme or other group support to prevent a relapse, but it is widely acknowledged that in order to remain clean and sober, more action is necessary. The reasons why you became an addict do not just go away because you have been to rehab. In order to achieve long term sobriety, you need to address the issues that led you to addiction in the first place

For most people, this involves employing the services of a therapist. Your rehab provider may have suggested therapy once you leave rehab, and have made recommendations for therapists. If not, your GP or other medical professional can help you with this.

Therapy may involve looking at historical issues such as childhood abuse, neglect or other trauma. It may be painful, and there may be a time when you will feel worse in the process of looking at the underlying issues. However, it is only by going through this process can you fully understand and resolve the past issues that led to your addiction, and so move onto a better place.

For most, if not all addicts, substance abuse is a way of avoiding inner pain. Therapy is about facing up to this pain. There are reasons that this pain needs to be examined, as it is only by examining it and facing down those demons can you learn to make your peace with the past and so move on to lead or more happy and healthy life.

If you imagine the unresolved issues from the past are like an infected wound that is scabbed over. Substance abuse keeps the wound in this state. Therapy opens up the wound, and allows it to be cleansed and so heal more successfully.

Therapy can also help you to resolve current issues in relationships, in self-destructive behaviours, in habitual self-defeating patterns. In the safe space of therapy, you can explore aspects of yourself that lead you into difficulties and troublesome situations. Perhaps you have a history of damaging and destructive relationships, or are constantly arguing with your boss or co-workers. Therapy can help you explore what it is that you can change to help avoid these occurrences.

Therapy can also help you to work out what you want to be and what you want to achieve with your new life in recovery. Through the process of therapy, you can explore your hopes and dreams, as well as the painful, messy issues. Therapy can lead to growth and development, enabling you to achieve your full potential.

So, in order to prevent a relapse in the future, whether it be a month, a year, or even a decade, therapy is the best way to ensure that you leave the past where it belongs, in the past. In the process of therapy, you can develop new ways of coping and interacting with the world. Therapy is a vital process to assist you to consolidate your sobriety, and to enable you to live the best life you can in recovery.


Nina Bradshaw is a professionally qualified social worker and therapist in the UK, where she has thirteen years of experience in the mental health field. She is also in recovery from addiction which gives her a unique perspective on the area of mental health and substance misuse.

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