For the many women battling an addiction to prescription drugs, rising to the challenge of treatment is an incredible accomplishment. Devoting time, energy, and financial resources to a program of care, and making a steadfast commitment to a life of sobriety takes considerable fortitude. But when one begins the complex work of ending her prescription drug abuse, either with inpatient treatment, a residential program, or with outpatient services, many challenges will lie ahead.
Treatment for prescription drug abuse is meant to evolve as a person’s needs change. Regardless of where one begins on the continuum of care, planning for the future will be critical in achieving lasting sobriety. Quality residential treatment centers typically begin the aftercare planning process almost as soon as an individual is enrolled in their care. As the plan of care evolves, and the individual is preparing to step down her level of treatment, she should be armed with a follow-up plan that will be tailored to her individual strengths and goals. Aftercare planning is essential for relapse prevention because it ensures that the individuals are continually supported after leaving residential care.
Despite all the challenges one may successfully overcome in treatment, relapse can still be a risk. This is not due to weakness, but rather, is evidence of the incredibly addictive properties of prescription drugs. Recovery is a lifelong process, and the decision to remain sober must be made again each and every day. While this choice will get easier over time, it is important to be vigilant over the risk of relapse in that critical time when an individual discharges from a residential treatment center.
Fortunately, there are a variety of tools and supports available that can help one stay true to her commitment to sobriety. With the right network of resources, the likelihood of relapse can be significantly diminished.
Reasons Why People Relapse
For individuals who have never suffered from chemical dependency, the concept of relapse may be difficult to understand. They may not be able to comprehend why someone who has worked so hard to achieve sobriety might be tempted to use prescription drugs again, given the myriad of negative consequences the addiction has likely caused. But the truth is, relapse is common, and is a part of the recovery process that many women face. Relapse is not about a lack of character or sincerity, but rather, part of the journey to sobriety that can be overcome and prevented. If you have relapsed, you are not alone, and some of the common reasons why a relapse occurs are described in the following:
- Stressful life events or changes
- Entering situations that have prompted one to use in the past
- Encountering individuals who may pressure you to use with them
- Feelings of hopelessness or isolation
- Questioning one’s choices about sobriety, wondering if it is worth it
The feelings and situations listed above are not unlikely to occur once one leaves residential treatment. But by acknowledging them ahead of time, and making a plan to successfully navigate them, women who have suffered from a prescription drug dependence will be well equipped to avoid relapse, or recover from a relapse if it occurs.
How to Prevent Relapse
Over time, the road to recovery will undoubtedly include some setbacks. But what is important is that one plans for these challenges, and equips herself with the tools she needs to recover when these setbacks occur. When one embarks into a life of sober living, many adjustments will be necessary as one reintegrates back into daily life without the use of prescription drugs. During this transitional time, it will be helpful to have an arsenal of coping tools to maintain one’s sobriety. The following briefly describes some of the ways that you can prevent a relapse during this critical time and in the future:
- As you exit treatment, be sure you understand your aftercare plan and the follow-up resources available to you
- Identify key supports in your life that you can talk to when tempted to use. This could be friends or family members, or a connection you made while in treatment.
- Make time to practice your coping skills and self-soothing tools each day.
- Avoid people and places that may trigger additional stress.
- Avoid people and places that may pressure you to use.
- Prepare to manage your time effectively with a daily schedule.
- Seek out a sponsor or join a community support group.
- If you were not provided with an aftercare plan, research additional options for care within your community, and seek out professional help for referrals if needed.
The above coping tools are but a brief list of the many ways that individuals can seek support to maintain sobriety after leaving treatment. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about comprehensive relapse prevention planning at Timberline Knolls, we encourage you to contact us today.