When many people think of rehab, they consider it a one-time event. They may picture someone going off to rehab and coming home a whole new person whose problems are left behind. This is not always the case.
While rehabilitation should be a life-changing experience, it’s not the end of the story. Recovering addicts will spend their entire lives maintaining their sobriety, and it is a process that must be worked at.
What is Recovery?
Recovery: A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
Recovery used to mean abstinence. You need to quit the substance and stay away from the substance. That way, one can recover from the substance abuse. There are some research regarding treatment outcomes. What makes someone successful in quitting substance misuse? We can say that recovery is much more than abstaining from the substance of choice. They want to treat substance abuse in the same way as a chronic disease. Now, this is the view of treatment communities and national organizations who study the substance use problems. In fact, we cannot cure some chronic diseases, such as diabetes and asthma. Unfortunately, people are viewing addiction and substance misuse the same. In some cases, we can cure it. However, in other cases, recovery means successfully managing a problem with a substance.
What is the best way to ensure success for most patients? Research shows that combining treatment medications (where available) with behavioral therapy. Of course, you must tailor treatment approaches. This way you can address each patient’s drug use patterns. As a result, you can deal with the drug-related medical, mental, and social problems.
What Happens After Rehab?
During rehabilitative treatment, counselors and medical professionals will help you or your loved one plan for the future. You will learn coping techniques to prevent relapse, develop a schedule for yourself, and build your support network. You’ll also plan your future treatment plan to continue your journey once you leave the facility. This will probably include outpatient counseling, 12-step programs or meetings, or some combination of both.
In some cases, more intensive help is still required. Some individuals may move into a sober living facility in order to continue their care. This is a house where multiple recovering addicts live together in order to offer support and undergo continued meetings and counseling. They perform household chores and work jobs outside of the home, but they do not return to their former homes yet. This offers a more gentle transition from rehab into a new normal routine.
Some addicts may feel lost or find it difficult to adjust to life outside rehab. This is especially true for those who don’t have a support network to help them stay accountable. This is where a support group is of high importance, because they give recovering addicts a sense of belonging and togetherness that they may lack in their everyday lives.
To avoid relapse, addicts should stay away from people or places that can trigger their alcohol or drug addiction. They should also surround themselves with people who support the addict’s recovery. Stick to your schedules and attend all your counseling sessions and meetings.
It is important that you stick with a schedule and maintain a level of structure for yourself once rehab is over. This will help you avoid the temptation to use drugs or drink again. Avoid people or places that you relate with drug abuse, and surround yourself with people who will support you in your journey to getting healthy.
You will maintain a daily routine or schedule while in rehab, and you should continue this after you leave. Have a set time for waking up and going to bed. Set aside time for family time, work, school, and other necessary activities. If free time is too hard for you right now, engage with friends or reinvigorate your love for hobbies or passions you had before drug use took over.
Although it may be hard, you’ll need to break ties with people who use illegal or potentially addictive substances. Even if you consider these people friends, you cannot surround yourself with drug abusers and expect to resist the temptation to use again yourself. In many cases, addicts wind up hanging out with other addicts, while their friends and close family members are pushed aside. Bring these people back into your life, and lean on them for support and guidance when you feel that you may be tempted to use.
Attend all of your schedule counseling sessions and meetings. Schedule these in advance as part of your daily or weekly routine, and do not miss sessions unless you absolutely have to (meaning, you are physically ill or injured). Be honest and up front with your counselor and continue using tools you learned in rehab to help you cope with stress or temptation.
If someone is overweight, they can’t eat healthy and exercise for a little while to lose weight, and then go back to eating cookies and pizza while expecting to maintain their weight loss. If they return to unhealthy habits, they will regain the weight. Likewise, maintaining sobriety is a lifelong process. Healthy habits have to be maintained and unhealthy habits have to be abandoned in order for it to work.
Do I have to attend counseling sessions after rehab?
No, it isn’t required to attend counseling sessions after completing a rehab program. If you choose to continue with your weekly meetings and counseling sessions, however, you’ll have a much lower chance of experiencing a relapse, and better chance to maintain lifelong sobriety.
You won’t necessarily have to continue with meetings or weekly counseling sessions for the rest of your life, but then again, you might. Just like one person can eat more calories than another and maintain a slender body, some addicts can afford to maintain their support networks less than some others. If you need the support, keep going. Most people who relapse do so because they grow complacent and comfortable in their new lives. They begin to assume that they don’t have to keep up with every aspect of recovery and they start to let things slip through the cracks. But once you miss one counseling session, you might be tempted to miss another. Then another. It’s a slippery slope. If you have discovered a routine and system that works for you, then continue doing it.
Accept that you aren’t Perfect
What if I relapse after rehab?
If you have relapse after the rehab, don’t think of it as a permanent failure. Depending on your situation, you may only need to attend more outpatient counseling sessions, or you may need more intensive treatment.
If relapse does occur, don’t view it as a permanent failure. You have succeeded in getting clean or sober before, then you can do it again. Pick up with your recovery program wherever you need to. In some cases, this may mean getting back into a treatment program. In others, you may only need to attend more outpatient counseling sessions to remind yourself of all that you learned during rehab the first time. 12-step programs and other meetings with peers may also offer a level of accountability to your recovery and allow you to get back on the right track to healing and recovery.
Even if you have relapsed multiple times in the past, you can still turn things around if you wish to do so. You may need more intensive treatment, but if you rededicate yourself to getting clean and sober, then you can accomplish your goals.