For many people with substance abuse problems, going through a rehab program is a life-changing experience. However, alcohol or drug rehab is not the end of the story. People with substance abuse issues must practice addiction recovery steps their entire lives to maintain sobriety.
Programs for addiction recovery are designed to help individuals with drug, alcohol, or behavioral addictions by teaching them the necessary skills to prevent a relapse to dangerous behaviors. An effective addiction recovery program offers a customized approach and addresses the patient’s unique circumstances and addictive behaviors, while also taking into account the reasons for seeking treatment.
The various stages of addiction treatment and recovery provide long-term relief through medications and behavior modification. In addition, addiction recovery programs address coexistent medical, psychological, and social problems that influence the person’s dependence on alcohol or drugs.
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What is Addiction Recovery?
Recovery is a process of change through which an individual makes a commitment to improve their health and well-being, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.
Recovery does not simply mean abstinence from alcohol or drugs. Of course, anyone with a dependence needs to quit using the harmful substance. This is the obvious first step in recovering from substance abuse. However, the steps for recovery include much more than simply abstaining from an illicit substance.
Addicts must remember that addiction is treatable. It may not always be curable, but it can be managed. The stages of alcoholic recovery are similar to treatment for a chronic disease such as asthma or diabetes.
What makes someone successful in quitting drugs, alcohol, or bad habits? National organizations have conducted research on the outcomes of addiction treatment programs. Studies have shown that combining behavioral therapy and medications (if available) offers the best addiction recovery help.
Addiction recovery must be tailored to the individual client. A successful program takes into account the recovering addict’s unique social circumstances, drug use patterns, and severity of dependence. This ensures that the problem is dealt with in a comprehensive manner by addressing the medical, psychological, and social issues of substance abuse.
Substance Abuse Treatment: What Happens After Rehab?
In addition to the health consequences of drug misuse, addiction frequently has an all-pervasive effect on the family, social, and work life of the abuser. Once the initial detox and rehab are completed, the addict must make ongoing efforts to stay clean.
How can an addict prevent relapse? The ability to stop using alcohol or drugs is just one aspect of a complex process. Addiction recovery activities must address all the compulsive behaviors that lead to drug use. In addition to serious health consequences, drug abuse disrupts many aspects of an addict’s life. To be successful, addiction recovery steps must address all the needs of the individual. Treatment should be directed towards medical, psychological, vocational, social, and legal needs to promote recovery from addiction.
During the rehabilitation process, medical professionals and counselors help a recovering addict plan for the future. Clients are taught coping techniques to prevent relapse, such as developing a schedule and building a social network. Former addicts are also given a future treatment plan to continue their journey of addiction recovery after they leave the rehab facility. This could include outpatient counseling, a 12-step program, or a combination of the two.
Some individuals require more intensive treatment after rehab. For example, people recovering from severe substance abuse may need to move into a sober living community for continued care. Recovering addicts live together in these facilities and support each other through continued meetings and counseling sessions. They engage in household chores and odd jobs to prepare them for life back at home. This offers a gentle transition from rehab to the daily routine of home life.
Addicts with limited social support sometimes find it difficult to adjust to normal life after rehab. Social contacts are essential for relapse prevention as they help an addict stay accountable. Support groups play an important role in such situations because they offer recovering addicts a sense of belonging that is lacking in their everyday lives.
Steps to Recovery from Addiction: Staying Sober for Life
The key principle in effective treatment of substance use disorder is to use a combination of medications and behavior modification. This ensures success for most recovering addicts. As mentioned, the treatment approach must be customized to the addict’s drug behaviors, medical problems, psychiatric issues, and social situation.
In terms of medications for addiction treatment, different medicines are useful at different stages of the recovery process. Medications can help recovering addicts abstain from drugs, manage withdrawal symptoms, comply with treatment, and avoid relapse. For example, nicotine dependence can be treated with replacement patches or gum or medications such as varenicline or bupropion. People with an opioid dependence may benefit from naltrexone or methadone. Individuals with alcohol or drug dependence may be prescribed Acamprosate or disulfiram during one of the stages of addiction recovery. Here are the major steps to addiction recovery:
Withdrawal Management: One of the first steps of addiction recovery is to treat withdrawal symptoms. When someone first stops using alcohol or illicit drugs, they experience a number of physical and psychological effects, which can be managed with medications for comfort and safety. By treating or reducing unpleasant symptoms, these medications make it easier for the addict to stop using drugs.
Treatment Compliance: Some medications help the brain adapt to a new chemical environment minus the abused drug. These medicines gradually reduce cravings and bring the body systems back to a natural, healthy state. They help recovering addicts stay calm and focused on the psychotherapy and counseling related to alcohol or drug treatment.
Behavioral Therapy: This is essential to help recovering addicts engage in treatment and modify negative behaviors and attitudes related to drug use. Behavioral therapy is also important to improve life skills in dealing with stressful situations and handling environmental cues that trigger substance abuse. These therapies teach addicts to manage cravings and compulsive behavior and thereby enhance the efficacy of addiction medications. Addicts may be offered services such as motivational enhancement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and contingency management to encourage behavior change, provide positive reinforcement, and help in developing coping skills.
Relapse Prevention: Recovering addicts must avoid certain people, things, places, and moods that can trigger stress and influence drug behavior. Certain medications interfere with triggers and help in addiction recovery. Continuing with weekly meetings or counseling sessions can also help prevent relapse. Missing one counseling session can easily snowball, and for this reason, relapse prevention encourages avoiding complacency in efforts to stay clean.
Preventing Relapse with the Addiction Recovery Process
A relapse can be frustrating and discouraging. However, relapse is not a single event; rather it is a process. It consists of three primary stages – emotional, mental, and physical relapse. Interestingly, emotional relapse can take place weeks to months before the actual physical relapse.
Emotional Stage: A recovering addict engages in thoughts and behaviors that can lead to relapse. Even though the addict is not actively seeking alcohol or drugs, certain emotions, such as anxiety, anger, and mood swings, and habits, such as isolation, poor sleep, and an unhealthy diet are a setup for relapse. This stage of relapse is easy to pull back from through behavior modification. Recovering addicts in this stage should practice self-care with a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and some form of relaxation. It is a good idea to continue meetings and to seek help in dealing with mood swings and anxiety.
Mental Stage: A recovering addict becomes focused on places, people, and things that can trigger a relapse. For example, a recovering alcoholic will glamorize past alcohol abuse, fantasize about alcoholic beverages, or start hanging out with prior drinking buddies. The pull of addiction is stronger during this phase. Recovering addicts in this stage of relapse should think through the consequences of getting caught in a vicious circle. It is a good idea to tell someone about these urges, distract yourself with another activity, have a 30-minute wait to act on a craving, and take it one day at a time. Recovering addicts should also avoid the places and people who can trigger their alcohol or drug use. Instead, they should surround themselves with people who support their recovery from addiction and encourage them to stick to the schedule and attend counseling sessions.
Physical Stage: A recovering addict will call their dealer or go to get a drink. This is a very difficult point to recover from. It is essential to recognize the early warning signs of a relapse and stop before it is too late. Maintaining a level of structure and sticking to a daily routine is critical to avoid the temptation to drink alcohol or use illicit substances. It is a good idea to set aside time for family, work, and recreational activities and to focus the mind on healthy, invigorating passions or hobbies. Addicts often push family, friends, and well-wishers aside and surround themselves with drug abusers. Even though it may be difficult, it is necessary to break ties with people associated with past addictive behavior. Finally, attending all scheduled meetings, counseling sessions and support groups is essential to stay on track in addiction recovery. Former addicts should keep their counselor updated on life stressors, cravings, temptations, and their ability to cope.
Motivation for Recovery from Addiction: Getting Back on Track After Relapse
Addiction is a chronic condition. People with addiction can relapse similar to other chronic medical illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes. Addiction recovery involves altering deeply embedded behaviors. A relapse to alcohol use or drug abuse after rehab does not mean the treatment has failed. It simply means that a new therapy needs to be tried or a previous treatment needs to be restarted or adjusted. The rate of relapse, i.e., how often a person goes back to addictive behavior, depends on a number of behavioral and physiological factors.
If an addict has a drug abuse relapse, they should not view it as a permanent failure. Depending on the situation, it is possible to get back on track with additional counseling sessions or more intensive treatment. It is important to remember that if one can get sober or clean once, one can do it again. Return to an addiction recovery program to relearn the skills from the first rehab. In addition, 12-step addiction recovery meetings and other peer-supported programs can add a level of accountability to the process.
It is possible to turn things around with intensive treatment even after multiple relapses. A rededication to addiction recovery can help recovering addicts get clean and accomplish their goals.
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If you or someone you love could benefit from addiction recovery, call our free helpline (888)-459-5511 for more information on finding help. Advisors are available to answer your questions, give you more information on recovery from addiction, and direct you towards the resources you need to stay sober. Calls are always confidential and secure.