Many people view rehab as a chance to cure or overcome their drug or alcohol addictions. Despite being common, this belief is both incorrect and dangerous. Both substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder are recognized as chronic, long-term conditions. They don’t simply go away, but they can be safely, and successfully managed with the right tools. Going to rehab is an opportunity to learn evidence-based strategies for avoiding relapse.
Professional addiction treatment provides recovering addicts with the skills they need for maintaining sustainable, sober lifestyles, limiting risk, and confronting common, real-world challenges without using. Whether you’re soon to enter addiction treatment or are currently on deck to exit a rehab facility, you may have concerns about what sober living looks like going forward. Fear of relapsing is incredibly common. Moreover, relapsing itself is also common as well. In fact, relapse is such a common event during recovery that it’s often recognized as part of getting better.
It’s also important to note that the risk of relapse is often at its highest during the start of the recovery process. The risk gradually declines as the years go on. Although you may be plagued with problems like boredom, malaise, temptation, or even cravings early-on, these challenges will gradually lessen in their intensity as you grow evermore adept in managing your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Factors That Trigger Relapse and How to Avoid Them
When people relapse immediately after addiction treatment, this is often a sign of needing either more treatment or a more needs-specific treatment type. For instance, some rehab programs are held on an entirely outpatient basis. They require a limited commitment of on-campus hours each week, and they encourage a largely self-managed approach to addiction recovery. Comparatively, inpatient programs require an around-the-clock commitment.
For one to three full months, people in inpatient programs focus solely on getting better. Inpatient programs are held on closed campuses, and they completely remove people from the outside stressors and temptations that are known to trigger relapse events. If you feel compelled to use it just after your outpatient rehab program is done, you may want to consider enrolling in a more intensive program or a longer one.
To limit the risk of relapse, many recovering addicts also maintain lifelong participation in regular sober meetings and addiction support groups. Some people begin abusing drugs or alcohol as a means of self-treating mental health issues that haven’t been diagnosed and that aren’t being managed. These are known as co-occurring disorders and they include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- General anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorde
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
Relapsing after addiction treatment may be a sign that co-occurring disorders like these have yet to be identified and addressed. By attending programs that offer dual diagnosis treatment, recovering addicts can deal with both drug or alcohol addiction and their co-occurring mental health issues at once.
Doing so eliminates the need to self-treat chronic emotional angst in harmful and unsustainable ways. Finally, every recovering addict should have a solid relapse prevention plan in place. This is something that addiction treatment centers work on with patients as they prepare for exit. If you don’t already have an individualized relapse prevention plan, you can enroll in a relapse prevention program to get one. You can also follow up your initial addiction treatment with time in outpatient rehab, time in a partial hospitalization program, or by joining a local support group.
There are even options in halfway houses and sober living facilities that act as a stable bridge between inpatient addiction treatment and independent outside living. If you need help minimizing your risk of relapse or help to find your way back to recovery following a relapse event, we can provide it. Call us now at 833-846-5669. Our counselors are always standing by.