Although admitting you have a problem and entering rehab are the first steps to getting sober, the next steps have to do with staying sober. And for some people, relapsing is a part of their lifelong journey to sobriety.
The important thing to remember is that it doesn’t mean you have failed. It just means you are battling a chronic disease for which there is no cure. That means you have to be very serious and very motivated when it comes to staying sober after you leave your recovery center.
If you have never relapsed before, consider yourself fortunate and work as hard as you can to avoid going through it. If you have relapsed, then you understand how easy it is and realize you need to identify where you tripped up to avoid doing so again.
To help with that, we put together a list of 9 tips to help you or your loved one avoid relapsing:
1. Build a Strong Foundation with a Recovery Center Treatment Program
Whether it is alcohol or drug addiction (or both), laying the groundwork with a solid treatment plan is essential to getting and staying sober.
For those who are also struggling with mental illness, which contributes to substance abuse; dual diagnosis therapy may be necessary.
2. Work Your Treatment Program Through to the End
It will be hard, and it will get harder. But this is your life we’re talking about and no matter how tough it is, you can finish it; millions of others have before you.
Every aspect of rehab presents its own challenges, from detox to group sharing, but each one is a necessary part of treatment.
3. Create and Follow Through on Your Plan for Aftercare
One of the biggest reasons people relapse is because they just “wing it” after leaving a recovery center. You need to write down (and follow) your steps for avoiding triggers and continuing your treatment after you leave the facility.
4. Get into a Regular Exercise Routine
Plenty of studies have shown the benefits of exercise in general. But for addicts, the chemicals and hormones that are released through physical activity aid in the process of suppressing unhealthy cravings and supporting sobriety.
5. Establish a Support System/Network and Stay in Touch After Treatment
It’s hard enough to stay sober when you have a large network of people to lean on, it’s virtually impossible to do it by yourself. So many people who reenter treatment admit that they didn’t keep in contact with their sober network after leaving the facility.
Whether it’s a roommate, an accountability partner, or people you shared with in group, make sure you start a support system and keep up with it when you leave rehab.
6. Pick Up a Few New (or Old) Hobbies
Surely there is some type of skill, craft, or talent you’ve always been curious about and want to try out. Maybe it was something you did when you were younger and you enjoyed it. It can be anything that you like spending time on.
It is a great way to keep your mind occupied on productive activities, while also learning how to spend recreational time in new ways.
7. Keep a Journal
You’d be surprised how therapeutic writing about your emotions and experiences can be. It is also a great tool for self-reflection and seeing how your thoughts and behaviors affect not only your life but the lives of those around you.
But it is especially rewarding to go back over time and see how far you’ve come in your sobriety.
8. Attend Recovery Support Meetings
This is something that should be a regular part of the routine of any recovering addict. When things are going well, these meetings serve as a reminder of the disease you are battling.
And when they are going bad, they serve as a source of strength and encouragement.
9. Always Ask for Help When You Need It
Of all the ways people relapse, this one is the most preventable. So many times, the difference between staying sober for one more day and relapsing is nothing more than asking anyone in your support system for help.
Also Read: Getting Ready for Drug Testing
There Is No Reason to be Anxious About Leaving Rehab
Both first-time attendees and those who have relapsed and made return trips are often nervous about leaving treatment and rejoining the outside world.
Usually, it’s over the fear of triggers and relapse. Other times, however, it can be due to shame or embarrassment.
Since your family and friends want to see you healthy, there is no reason to worry about that.
As far as relapsing goes, it’s always something you should fear, but only so much that it reminds you to always stay in control and seek help from your support system when you feel like you can’t.