Recognizing the problems of addiction is the first step to recovery, but, staying on top of things that are influential factors to relapse can be much more difficult. While in an addiction treatment setting, you have the added support of counselors and clinicians to keep you: accountable and motivated in your abstinence and recovery efforts; provide education and resources to help you overcome barriers to recovery and cope with influential triggers to use; and introduce you to the power of peer support while improving your physical, psychological, and emotional health.
When you leave, your addiction goes with you and it’s up to you to manage it appropriately. The SAMHSA, defines recovery as “A process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Here, are some tips for managing addiction after treatment ends.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
You have to suppress your conscience to be able to live by any inappropriate lifestyle and drugs help addicts to do this better than almost anything else. It may take a while to rebuild your confidence in yourself and many problems of addiction cannot be immediately overcome simply by remaining abstinent and participating in an addiction treatment program.
Being too hard on yourself is where you probably were before treatment and where it often seemed like using was your only escape route. In time, if you stick to your recovery plans, you will learn that it gets easier to make healthier lifestyle choices, that there are many alternatives to fall back on when things go wrong or don’t go the way you want, and that using only makes the problems worse.
Set Realistic Goals
People who have any significant improvements in their addiction recovery can get very anxious about their opportunities for the future. Once the detox and rehabilitation phases of treatment are over, there may be any number of opportunities that seem easily attainable, but, setting realistic goals will help to keep you grounded.
Discouragements, at this point, can be detrimental to the psychological and emotional balances that you have already achieved. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Stress is a major contributor to the initiation and continuation of alcohol or other drug abuse, as well as to substance abuse relapse after periods of abstinence.” Stay focused on your wellbeing and set realistic goals that will serve to lift you up a little bit more with each success. Short term goals are great in the beginning because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Eliminate or at least, reduce your exposure to influential triggers to use such as old friends who are still using or those who do not wholeheartedly support you in recovery, dealers, and others who may have negatively influenced you in the past. Old hangouts, bars, and thoughts of using are some of the biggest culprits to bringing up the pleasant effects you once felt with drugs, so be careful and look for something else to occupy your mind.
Remember the importance of physical health and how eating, sleeping, exercise, and relaxation techniques can be used to maximize overall healing and effectiveness of other recovery efforts. Following medical plans for treatment of physical disorders is crucial. You do not want to fall into the slums of fatigue and motivation loss when there is still so much left to do. Stay active and do your best to return to a productive lifestyle such as working, going to school, or assuming those responsibilities you were unable to handle while using.
Guard Your Emotions
According to an article from the NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, “disrupted neural circuits in addicted persons continually subject them to depressed moods, irritability, and restlessness.” The longer you have been using and the more frequent or greater the usage amounts has a negative impact on brain functioning by altering chemical messenger systems, circuits, and pathways. Some damages become permanent and others simply taking a while (maybe months) to heal.
Regardless of who you are, there is no way that you can prevent all of the emotional triggers that may prompt cravings or relapse once certain adaptations take place, but, guarding your emotions with a backup plan when they get out of control can help.
Take Advantage of Support Resources
Your recovery will be a lifelong journey and whether or not you are able to bounce back into your own self after addiction may be elusive for a while. It’s important that you seek help for any emotional or other mental health issues you may be experiencing as these issues can inhibit your progress to change your life for the better. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, “Research has demonstrated that relapse is common and to be expected during the process of recovery.” If relapse occurs, it should not be considered a character flaw, but, rather that more help is needed, so don’t be afraid to ask for it, whatever it may be.
Supportive networks that encourage recovery can come from friends, relatives, or peers in support groups and the more honest you are with these individuals and with what you are going through, the more they can help. Take advantage of every resource possible, as often as possible, and know that with every obstacle you overcome, the stronger you will be to overcome it the next time on your own.