The first step is often the hardest for addicts and alcoholics: admitting you have a problem and that you need help with that problem requires much courage, honesty and determination. Successful completion of a private rehab programme and all that it entails – medical detoxification, group therapy, one to one counselling, and family therapy – is no mean feat. It is a major achievement and you should be very proud of the steps you have taken to recover from your addiction, and to give yourself a second chance at life.
But remember that the recovery process is lifelong, and therefore it requires a lifetime of effort. Often the most challenging part for many addicts and alcoholics is not so much in the stopping of substance misuse, it is learning how to stay stopped. Life after drug rehab presents a whole realm of challenges to the newly sober addict – losing the safety, structure and routine of a residential treatment centre and learning to readjust to life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol.
Risk of Relapse
Unfortunately, relapse is a very real possibility for recovering addicts: it is part and parcel of the nature of the disease. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, 40-60% of addicts will relapse. Compared to other chronic illnesses, such as asthma or high blood pressure, where relapse is also common. Substance misuse disorders should be seen in exactly the same way.
Drug treatment programmes are not a cure and addiction is not a curable disease. Whilst it can be arrested and lifelong sobriety is possible, your addiction will always be there in the background. That’s why it’s crucial not to become complacent or drop your guard, as the consequences could be fatal.
Healthy coping strategies
There are many steps that recovering addicts and alcoholics can take to minimize the chance of relapse, and to stand the best chance of lifelong recovery. It’s important to remember that one small slip-up does not have to mean a return to full-blown addiction. What’s more, relapse doesn’t have to be a part of your story. There are some important measures that you can put in place after drug rehab to remain drug and alcohol free.
1. 12 step support groups
It is strongly recommended that those recovering from addiction and alcoholism attend 12-step support groups regularly. These groups have been around for many years and provide a safe, non-judgmental space to share, and get identification and support from other people in the same boat as you. Support groups are also available for families and loved ones, such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Having a sponsor – someone also in recovery who you can turn to for advice and guidance – will also be a fundamental source of support.
2. Therapy and counselling
Addiction is often just a symptom of other underlying and deep-rooted psychological issues. Talking therapies such as CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy) seek to help addicts understand and address the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that led to their substance misuse, and how to avoid potential relapse in future. Drug counselling at the Providence Projects will help you explore a variety of issues, but stopping is just the first part of a long and often complex recovery process. Ongoing therapy can be a helpful way to address one’s addiction holistically and learn how to avoid stressful triggers and situations.
3. Building a sober support network
Surrounding yourself with people who have been where you are and understanding the challenges of early recovery are both key. Having a solid support system can make all the difference when the going gets tough and thoughts of drinking or using may arise.
Getting regular exercise and having a healthy, nutritious diet play a huge role in your overall emotional and physical wellbeing. It has been scientifically proven that exercise can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, all of which contribute to alcohol or drug relapse. There are many different forms you can try, from aerobic exercise like running or swimming, to weight-lifting, yoga or tai-chi.
5. Relapse prevention plan
Make sure that when you leave private drug rehab, you have a plan in place to keep you safe. You need to be able to identify and avoid environments or situations which could be triggering, as well as toxic relationships and unhealthy patterns of behaviour. These will all help as you start your recovery journey outside of drug rehab.
6. Make recovery your priority
Ultimately, recovery must come first. It is the foundation upon which you can build a happy and fulfilled life. But it requires hard work and dedication; such as regularly attending 12-step meetings, getting a sponsor, and seeking therapy for co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Here at the Providence Projects, we recognise the importance of ongoing support after completing drug addiction treatment. To think that a 30 or a 90 day stay in drug rehab is going to solve all your problems is to underestimate the severity of your addiction, and what led you to your current situation. Whilst we hope that during your time here you will develop the tools and techniques to cope with life outside residential rehab, adjusting to the real world again is challenging for most people. Being exposed to external influences from family, friends, work and your old drinking or using environments can all trigger craving and temptation.
That’s why having a solid aftercare plan in place is a must: it’s a time to be highly vigilant and disciplined with your recovery programme. A very popular part of our drug rehabilitation here at Providence is our aftercare programme. This is designed to help you transition from 12 weeks in the safety bubble of a private drug rehab clinic, to living independently, with support in place from the Providence Projects three mornings a week.
Many people assume that recovery from addiction is just about stopping using drugs or giving up alcohol. In truth, it is less about giving up something and more about what you stand to gain. In recovery, you get your life back: from your self-esteem and freedom, to meaningful relationships with friends and family and a proper chance of employment. So if you want to quit drugs, please know that recovery is worth it and that there is a whole world out there to be enjoyed, a life to be lived. Addiction is such an isolating disease but you don’t have to suffer on your own anymore. For more information about a residential stay at our private rehab clinic, and how to take the first steps to a fulfilled and long-lasting recovery, call us today to speak to one of our expert team of addiction counsellors on 0800 955 0945 or complete our quick contact form now.
National Institute of Drug Abuse, ‘Drugs, Brain and Behaviour: The Science of Addiction’, July 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-reco