7 Common Challenges People Face in Addiction Recovery

Last Updated on March 12, 2020

woman depressed avoiding relapse

Successfully completing a drug and alcohol rehab program and re-entering society as a sober individual does not come without its own unique challenges. Maybe your loved one is in rehab and you want to understand what he or she may be experiencing. Or maybe you’re considering enrolling in a rehab program yourself, but your fears are holding you back.

Understanding some of the common challenges people face in addiction recovery may provide clearer insight into a life in recovery as well as the many ways our rehab program is designed to help you through those challenges. Here are some common personal issues you may face while completing a rehab program and how we can help.

  1. Developing new coping strategies

Getting sober isn’t just about not using drugs and alcohol anymore. It’s also about establishing a new lifestyle that supports your recovery. A major part of this process is developing new coping strategies to manage stress and deal with anxiety and cravings.1 In rehab, as you learn to develop these coping strategies, you are establishing a new sense of normalcy, which is both challenging and time-consuming, but well worth the effort. Our counselors and therapists will work with you daily to identify harmful behaviors and help you learn how to modify them so you can thrive in sobriety.

  1. Addressing trauma and shame without drugs and alcohol

Many people suffering from addiction use drugs and alcohol as a crutch to deal with trauma and shame. During drug rehab, people in recovery are challenged to deal with trauma and shame without the aid of these addictive substances, which can be very difficult. It requires a lot of effort, time, and bravery to confront these issues head-on and address the deep-seated issues that have contributed to your addiction. In working with counselors and therapists in rehab, you’ll have many opportunities to do this and as a result, you’ll experience rewarding personal growth.

  1. Building new relationships and repairing old ones

According to SAMHSA, having relationships and social networks that provide love, support, friendship, and hope is an essential part of a life in recovery.2 In rehab, you’ll be challenged to build new relationships with your peers in recovery as you learn how to communicate healthily, trust others, and be vulnerable. While working the 12 steps, you’ll also be asked to make amends with loved ones you hurt while you were actively abusing drugs and alcohol. The amends process can take weeks, months, or years and it’s never easy, but it plays an important role in freeing you from your old life of addiction and embracing your new life in recovery.

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  1. Boredom

During rehab, you’ll likely follow a structured daily schedule of support group meetings, exercise, meals, personal reflection, and leisure time. After you complete rehab and return home, you may find yourself dealing with boredom, which can actually be a big threat to your sobriety. Previously, all of your free time was most likely spent using drugs and alcohol. Now, without those things in your life, you’ll need to learn how to use your time in other ways, such as meditating, reading, playing sports, working, or taking up a new hobby. Enrolling in a sober living program after completing your drug rehab program can also provide structure that will help you establish a new lifestyle in recovery and fill your free time with group activities, volunteer work, job hunting, and other essential life activities.

  1. Relapse

Relapsing is one of the biggest challenges many addicts in recovery face both during and after rehab. Cravings, stress, anxiety, and old acquaintances can all be potential threats when you’re trying to stay sober. Fortunately, drug and alcohol rehab is designed to help you establish life skills, modify unhealthy behaviors, and develop a peer support system that will keep you firmly rooted in your sobriety. Even if you do have a lapse during or after rehab, you’ll be able to lean on your support system of peers and mentors who will help you get back on track quickly.

  1. Finding purpose in life

After drug and alcohol rehab, many people find that they lack purpose in life. Adapting to a life that doesn’t revolve around drug and alcohol abuse can be very difficult. One way drug and alcohol rehab helps addicts in recovery combat this issue is by introducing them to new hobbies and interests such as yoga, art, music, and meditation. These are all different aspects of behavioral therapy at Nova Recovery Center, and they may help clients develop new hobbies, interests, and social groups both during and after rehab.

  1. Transitioning out of rehab and back home

Making the transition from a life of addiction into an independent life of sobriety is another challenge you will face after rehab. After you leave the safety net of a rehab center like Nova, you’ll be awarded more personal freedoms but you’ll also need to manage more responsibilities at home, find a job, fulfill financial obligations, put your new coping strategies into action, and much more. For many people in recovery, this transition can be extremely challenging and it may be tempting to give up and use again. If you’re struggling to adapt to your new sober life after rehab, enrolling in a transitional living program is a great way to continue your addiction treatment and maintain your sobriety. Sober living homes provide structure, accountability, peer support, employment and education assistance, and a sense of camaraderie that will all help you maintain your sobriety and flourish in your new lifestyle.

Can Drug Addiction Lead to Depression?

Yes, people who abuse addictive substances are more likely to also suffer from depression. Someone who is depressed may abuse drugs to try to lift their mood or escape their current circumstances. However, this often makes symptoms of depression worse. Some people may also experience symptoms of depression after the effects of the drug wear off.

Research studies and surveys also show a clear relationship between drug addiction and depression.

  • About one-third of adults who have a substance use disorder also experience depression.3
  • According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, results from the largest survey on adult co-occurring psychiatric disorders found that among people with lifetime major depressive disorder, 40.3 percent had experienced an alcohol use disorder, 17.2 percent had experienced a drug use disorder, and 30 percent had experienced nicotine dependence.4

Get Addiction Help Today

Addiction recovery comes with its own challenges and difficulties, but having a thorough, experienced, and compassionate team of addiction treatment experts on your side makes all the difference.

At Nova Recovery Center, we truly care about our clients and we provide the necessary tools, behavioral therapies, and support systems to achieve a fulfilling life of sustained sobriety. Call Nova Recovery Center to learn more about our individualized drug and alcohol rehab programs for men and women or to enroll today.



  1. https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/recovery-skills.htm
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/recovery
  3. https://www.dbsalliance.org/education/depression/statistics/
  4. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/national-survey-sharpens-picture-major-depression-among-us-adults
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