Relapse after drug and alcohol rehab is extremely common. Between 50 and 90 percent of all people who have completed a drug treatment program will return to their drug of choice within four years. This may seem like a discouraging statistic, but if you stop to realize that it’s an expected part of the recovery process as a whole, it may make this reality easier to accept. One way to prevent relapse in yourself is to ask others who have had drug treatment before you: What has stopped you from relapsing?
First Things First
First of all, there is one major issue you must acknowledge. Drug use was once a huge part of your life. You spent vast amounts of time thinking about your drug of choice. You planned how you would get it. You planned how to pay for it. You thought about when and where you would use it. You probably fantasized about it. There were probably many times when you were indisposed, unable to function because of drug withdrawal symptoms. There is little doubt that you replaced with drugs the things that make up the very fabric of of most people’s lives, that is, family, work, friends and social activities. You may have once had hobbies that you deeply enjoyed, but you gave those up for drugs, too.
When you stop using drugs, it will leave a huge, empty hole in your life. This gap must be filled with something meaningful to you. This could be any great number of things:
- Helping others who want to stop using drugs
- A new hobby
- A new sport
- Hiking to enjoy nature
- New friends who do not use drugs
- Volunteering with something meaningful to you
Music can help, too. It doesn’t matter what kind, just whatever you like the most. There is evidence that music acts on the brain’s opioid receptors similarly to opioid drugs, producing feelings of pleasure.
You will need all the support you can get. Of course, not everyone will be understanding. Some people will not understand and may judge you. For example, it may not be wise to tell your employer about past drug use. Friends and family may not necessarily be supportive, either. But some people in your life will. These are the ones you want to ask to help you. NA and AA are self-help groups that have helped many to stay clean. These groups are not for everyone, but you can try them. If you become a regular member, you will have a sponsor that you can call on anytime you feel like you’re slipping. And your sponsor will know exactly how you feel, because they have already been where you are.
Think about those who depend on you. This may give you the inner strength to stay clean. Remember the coping tools you learned in rehab. You will need those now more than ever. Your rehab should have discussed a relapse prevention plan with you before your release. Make sure you go over that every day. Follow your aftercare plan.
If you are taking drug maintenance medication, be sure to take it exactly as prescribed. This will help reduce drug cravings that can drive you to use again. Therapy and counseling will probably help. A trained therapist can lead you to discover great insights within yourself and help you find an inner strength you never even knew you had. Consider getting a pet dog or cat. The unconditional love these creatures offer will help keep you grounded.
Sober living is a wonderful way to learn how to stay clean after your discharge from rehab. These are residences that provide a structured environment of support for anyone wanting to abstain from drug and alcohol use. In fact, the only requirement for sober living is your desire to stay clean for the long term. Sober living homes are often regular homes where you will probably share a living space with someone of your own sex. They are often co-ed, but living quarters are always segregated by sex. There are rules like a curfew and mandatory meeting attendance. You can work and come and go as you please as long as you are back in the house on time. A sober living home is not a prison. You can leave anytime you wish.
If you’re struggling with abstinence, you don’t have to do it alone. We can help. Call our trained staff at 954-523-1167 anytime of the day or night. We will answer your questions and guide you to the best solution for long-term relapse prevention for you.