If you took advantage of a professional treatment program for a drug or alcohol disorder and were able to accomplish abstinence for about three months, you have begun the 3rd stage of recovery, known as maintaining abstinence. Now you need to put the skills that you learned in early recovery to work toward maintaining your sobriety and avoiding relapse. Maintaining your sobriety is the third of four stages of recovery which has been defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
If you were in residential treatment, 90 days, you probably aren’t in a residential program any more. And you aren’t in early abstinence. You’re in Stage 3 and after completing inpatient treatment, most individuals continue with a follow-up or ongoing phase of rehab. Even though there is still regular contact with one’s counselor and support group meetings, maintaining recovery is basically up to the individual.
To maintain abstinence, it’s important to:
Rehab is an intensive, supervised program meant to help people overcome addiction and learn skills to live healthy lives. Rehab can help you or a loved one recover from addiction safely and stay sober.
The length and form of treatment vary depending on the individual’s personal situation and dependence on drugs or alcohol. No single treatment will work for everyone. It’s important to choose a program that meets your specific needs.
There are several types of rehab, but they generally involve the following steps toward recovery:
There are various types of rehab. After detox, an individual may enter any of the following rehab programs.
Inpatient patients stay in a hospital, generally for at least 28 days and receive highly intensive and structured care.
Patients live in a non-hospital treatment facility and receive round-the-clock intensive and structured care. Treatment durations during residential treatment may vary.
Individuals live at home and regularly go to the clinic or facility for treatment with substance abuse treatment specialists. There are several types of outpatient programs that vary in the number of days at the treatment facility and the number of hours spent there. Outpatient treatment may continue for long periods of time.
Completing a rehab program and sticking with it until the end is a big achievement for anyone struggling with an addiction. However, the journey doesn’t stop when rehab is done. It takes commitment to incorporate sobriety into your everyday life. This is especially true if you want to achieve recovery for life.
Rehab is designed to treat the basic causes of your addiction and challenge the dysfunctional thinking that drives compulsive behaviors. With the alcohol or drugs safely removed from your body, you will look and feel better and be able to think clearer, but your addiction won’t disappear overnight. You need to use all the recovery skills learned in rehab and apply them to your everyday life to maintain wellness and abstinence.
When you leave rehab, it’s normal to feel fear and excitement. Fear because you learned how serious your addiction is and excitement due to returning home to your friends and family.
You may have the impression after completing rehab that you are now able to deal with cravings. Overconfidence though often leads to relapse. Leaving the supportive environment of rehab means you need to find the strength to continue recovery alone.
Before you went to rehab, you probably couldn’t imagine life without your addiction. Then you realized you couldn’t live a life with it.
Dealing with life is not easy for a newly sober addict. You will have to face the reality of the damage caused by your addiction. This sometimes means that you can’t return to your old job and a permanent break with your partner or spouse.
By continuing to maintain your recovery through the skills learned in rehab, everything should work out. But it will take time and patience. Try to keep in mind the bigger picture. Keep yourself focused one day at a time on your recovery.
It’s important to continue to access support and any aftercare that is available to you through the rehab facility. This helps you adjust to sober and clean living and helps you get through the challenges of life for the first year of recovery.
Leaving rehab with the expectation that all is well and family will welcome you with open arms is dangerous. Trust takes time and hard work with family members and people close to you. You will find that there are bridges to be built and amends to be made. And the best way to do this is by:
When you’re trying to maintain abstinence from drugs or alcohol, it’s important that you develop healthy, positive relationships to support you during your recovery process. For a lot of people that means having to make a new set of friends.
Avoiding the people you used to drink or use drugs with is an important step in maintaining recovery for life. Developing new positive friendships with supportive people can be even more important.
It’s important to develop a drug and alcohol-free lifestyle if you want to achieve recovery for life. One of the most important objectives of your continuing care is to help you learn to replace your former destructive behaviors with more healthy and productive ones.
One of the first steps to building a substance-free lifestyle is to avoid the people who were involved in your drug or alcohol-using life. For many addicts, this means developing new friends, social patterns, and leisure activities.
Everyone gets feelings of anger sometimes. But excessive anger can be dangerous because it leads to all types of physical, emotional, and social consequences. High levels of anger can be highly destructive for people who are in recovery from addiction because it can lead to relapse.
Consequently, anger is one of the most frequently used excuses for relapsing. Thus, learning how to manage one’s anger is one of the steps in the relapse process. Tips to manage anger include:
Many treatment programs include exercise and nutrition as part of their complete programs to help people maintain sobriety and build healthy lifestyles. Some residential facilities have fully-equipped exercise rooms on site.
Interestingly, the main reason exercise was initially recommended for individuals trying to quit alcohol and drugs is because it helps them stay focused on something besides their withdrawal symptoms or cravings. However, there is now evidence that exercise has additional benefits for people who want to avoid drugs and alcohol.
Going back to work after completing a professional alcohol and drug rehab program is usually essential, but can be a problem for recovering alcoholics and addicts. It’s likely that if you’ve reached the point where you need professional treatment for your addiction, it has had an effect on your employment record.
While returning to employment can improve self-esteem and help a person become more responsible, supporting yourself and possibly a family can bring on a new set of relapse triggers such as:
Going back to work means that you also have to manage your money responsibly. This can be a problem for many recovering alcoholics and addicts.
Usually, people with active substance abuse issues are irresponsible with their money. Having money to use freely can especially be a trigger for addicts in recovery. Tips to help with money management while in recovery include:
Individuals in recovery from substance use disorders (SUD) will sometimes substitute one addiction for another. Sometimes, this means becoming compulsively involved in other activities. If it’s work or exercise, it can be productive and healthy, but if they become a transfer of addictions, it can hinder recovery for life.
One of the goals of recovery and living a sober lifestyle is to take back control over your life and the choices that you make. Thus, even if a compulsive behavior is done with productive activities, it isn’t under your control, nor does it allow you to exercise free choice.
On top of that, there are many other behaviors that when done compulsively can turn into unhealthy addictions and behaviors in and of themselves. Examples of such behaviors include gambling, sex, video games, and shopping.
People who suffer from alcohol use disorders (AUD) often experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they quit drinking. A craving for alcohol is one of the reasons that most of those who try to quit drinking fail on their first attempt. There are only 3 medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcoholism:
FDA approved medications to control opiate cravings include:
Relapse is common in the recovery process. More than 90% of people in recovery have at least one relapse before they achieve their goal of recovery for life.
A lot of people get in trouble when they let their guards down while in early abstinence. That’s why it’s important not to take sobriety for granted. That’s why it’s also important to realize the power of addiction and to keep a recovery-directed attitude.
Likewise, it’s important to continue your therapy sessions and participation in support groups. Be honest with yourself and others about your feelings and thoughts. Changes in attitudes, feelings, and behaviors can lead to a quick relapse.
Relapse doesn’t begin when a person picks up a drink or a drug. It’s a slow process marked by negative changes in attitude, feelings, and behaviors. That’s why your follow-up counselor works with you to help you identify the warning signs of relapse and devise a plan to change your direction when you start to go down the wrong path.
The three stages of relapse are:
In this stage of relapse, even though individuals are not thinking about using drugs or alcohol again, their emotions and behaviors may be setting them up for a relapse.
Some warning signs of emotional relapse include:
To prevent relapse, it’s important to realize that you are in emotional relapse and change your negative behaviors immediately.
Mental relapse has been described as a war inside your own mind. Individuals that experience mental relapse are at high risk of physically relapsing. Part of a person that is in mental relapse wants to use substances again while the other part doesn’t.
It’s common to fantasize about using substances during the mental relapse stage. As people go deeper into the mental relapse stage, their resistance drops and their need to use substances increases.
Some warning signs of mental relapse include:
If an individual doesn’t take the time to recognize and deal with the symptoms of emotional and mental relapse, it doesn’t take long before he or she gets to the stage of physical relapse.
Physical relapse means abusing substances again after already achieving recovery. It’s important to get help immediately if you find yourself in physical relapse.
It is possible to achieve recovery for life after drug addiction. With proper professional support and support at home, there is life after rehab. If you or someone you know needs to enter rehab for a drug or alcohol addiction, Grace Land Recovery is a comprehensive treatment center that can care for you from detox through to continuing support and aftercare.
If you’re in one of the relapse stages or you have relapsed, contact us here at Grace Land Recovery immediately. We have 3 levels of outpatient treatment programs. Here at Grace Land Recovery, we also offer relapse prevention programs.
Furthermore, we here at Grace Land Recovery offer a wide range of treatment therapies, including anger management and family therapy. If you are in need of help when trying to achieve recovery for life, we here at Grace Land Recovery have experienced, caring professionals whose only job is to help you.