Participating in and completing treatment to overcome an addiction to substances is quite the accomplishment. For many, it means confronting the emotional and psychological factors that may have led to the development of the addiction in the first place, while also preparing for a future that no longer includes substance abuse. And while it may seem simple to those who do not struggle with chemical dependency concerns, the reality of the situation is that defeating an addiction can be rife with challenges that make achieving sobriety something to be celebrated.
Given the challenges associated with maintaining sobriety, it is imperative for individuals who recently completed treatment to partake in follow-up services. Many programs provide aftercare recommendations to recently discharged men and women so that they have the specific services and resources spelled out for them that will enable them to build upon their recovery progress. Additionally, by participating in the aftercare services that are recommended, there is an increased likelihood that a person will be able to resist the urge to return to substance abuse once more.
However, should a person complete treatment but not engage in follow-up services, there is a greater possibility that she may relapse. Relapse occurs when an individual is not able to stick to her commitment to her sobriety and resumes the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Not to be misconstrued as a character flaw, failure, or weakness, relapse is something that can happen following the completion of treatment, yet can be avoided or amended by remaining connected to resources and the support needed to continue on the path of recovery.
Reasons Why People Relapse
There are many reasons why an individual may succumb to the abuse of substances following the completion of treatment. Among the many that are frequently reported by those in recovery, the following are the most common:
- Overwhelming cravings for a particular drug or drugs of choice
- Stress at school, work, or home
- Encountering a situation in which the temptation to use is overpowering
- Experiencing moments in which one is questioning if being sober is worth it
- Feeling as though one has no other option but to use drugs and/or alcohol
The above reasons are but a few examples of the situations or circumstances that can cause an otherwise motivated person to resort to substance abuse again. Furthermore, the aforementioned reasons are those that further support why it is important for an individual to maintain a system of support following treatment and to participate in aftercare services once a higher level of care has been completed.
How to Prevent Relapse
As stated, experiencing a relapse is not to be viewed as a fault if it occurs. Recovery takes time and readjusting to living life as a sober person can involve a great deal of trial and error. There will be triumphs and setbacks, moments of self-doubt, and periods in which an individual may feel empowered by her ability to remain sober. What is important to remember, however, is that each day that one reaffirms her commitment to sobriety and remains substance-free is a victory.
If you or someone you care about has recently completed treatment and wishes to remain sober for the long-term, it could be helpful to adhere to the following recommendations for how to prevent relapse and maintain recovery:
- Engage in the recommended aftercare services immediately after completing treatment.
- If you were not provided with a discharge plan, consult with other professionals or give yourself an education on the aftercare services available to you and arrange to begin a program.
- Talk about your plans for maintaining your sobriety with a few loved ones so that you have support from those you care about most.
- Be sure to practice your coping skills.
- Consider joining a support group in your community.
- Secure a sponsor if you do not have one already. Also, once you have a sponsor, be sure to remain in regular contact with him or her.
- Avoid people, places, and things that may trigger you to abuse substances.
- Make a daily schedule for yourself and stick to it.
- Seek more intensive treatment again if you feel you need it.
By following through on the above suggestions, you will be better able to hold true to your commitment to your sobriety and avoid relapse in the present and future.
For further guidance on how you or someone you care about can prevent relapse, or to learn about the treatment options available, feel free to contact us at Timberline Knolls today. Let us help you live the healed and recovered life that you deserve.