In a Treatment Episode Data Set produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “there were 1.8 million admissions in 2008 for treatment of alcohol and drug abuse to facilities that report to State administrative data systems. Most treatment admissions (41.4 percent) involved alcohol abuse. Heroin and other opiates accounted for the largest percentage of drug-related admissions (20.0 percent).”
Treatment for opiate addiction is an important, life-changing step. Because opiates operate so heavily on the brain, treatment means addressing those brain changes. This means working through often severe withdrawal from detoxification. Medications are often used to quiet cravings and physical symptom s that trigger relapse. But, that’s just the first step. As treatment progresses, medications my still be used, but behavioral changes are also made.
With the help of medication and the support of therapists, groups, and peers seeking sobriety, recovery can seem like it will be a smooth transition out of rehabilitation. But, it can be a lot more difficult than people imagine. There are a few life changes you can make to help make recovery from opiate addiction a little easier. If you would like more tips, contact Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and speak to someone 24 hours a day.
Seek Out Service Work
An addict’s life often has one purpose: obtaining and using drugs. When a person goes to rehab, the purpose becomes maintaining sobriety. But, the transition to recovery means that a group of other purposes get added to the mix and this can cause addicts to desire a return to the singular purpose they had when using and in rehab. This can lead to a relapse.
To maintain a sense of purpose and a tie to the recovery community, recovering opiate users should seek out the selfless acts (something entirely absent from a drug addict’s life) of service work. By volunteering addicts can remain tied to the recovery community, focused on sobriety, dedicated to a community that means more to them than ever before, and committed to a purpose. Additionally, those who engage in service work are less likely to experience depression.
Types of service work include:
- Making visits to substance abusers in prison
- Working phone lines for a group that specializes in helping addicts
- Taking charge of coffee and snacks for support group meetings
- Talking to the public about addiction
- Welcoming newcomers to support meetings
- Keeping a recovery blog
- Making school visits to warn against drug use
- Connecting with a non-profit dedicated to ending drug abuse
- Offering childcare during support meetings
- Act as a tour guide at a local treatment center
- Assist at health fairs and community events
- Assist with research projects on substance abuse
- Volunteer in the bookstore of a large treatment center
When addicts begin to give to their community without a promise of a return, they break the selfish cycle of addiction. Plus, getting involved socially with sober people is endlessly fun without the presence of drugs, and recovering addicts need that.
An essay in Psychology Today notes “Mindfulness practice helps us develop the capacity to see clearly exactly what we’re attached to so that we can let go of it and end our suffering. The hidden areas of resistance that emerge into our awareness can be noted and examined later so that we can make the conscious choice to reject them.” What could be better for a recovering addict than to reject their urges for drugs?
Desire is a normal part of everyday life and it causes people to work to achieve goals. But, the belief that we consistently need more causes humans to foster negative beliefs. Developing a mindful practice can help to break negative thought cycles.
- Lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- An increased immune system
- Greater energy
- An enhanced ability to filter toxins from the body
- New neural networks
- Increased concentration and awareness
- Improved decision making
- Lower heart rate
- A thickened bilateral, prefrontal right-insular region of the brain (the area responsible for optimism and a sense of well-being, spaciousness, and possibility)
Actively Attend Meetings and Obtain a Sponsor
Many addicts in recovery attend meetings and have a sponsor. They may even share regularly at meetings and follow the guidance of the sponsor. But, that doesn’t mean that they have broken previous patterns or will be able to avoid relapse.
Passively showing up and going through the motions is not enough. If an addict chooses a 12-step method, those steps need to be worked through constantly. If the addict works better with group therapy, then they need to engage with the other members, as well as the therapist and share themselves wholly. It isn’t enough to sit in a chair weekly. The addict’s entire focus needs to be centered on the words being spoken and the ideas that fuel them.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opiate addiction recovery, contact Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and speak with someone today. People are available 24 hours a day to help you as much as possible.