If you think that a recovery journey ends after a patient leaves rehab, you couldn’t be more mistaken. The truth of the matter is that a recovery journey never really “ends” at all; indeed, recovery is a lifelong journey. However, the immediate months following an addict’s departure from an inpatient facility are critical, as this is the period of time where one is most likely to relapse.
No one who leaves rehab aspires to relapse, but when addicts are confronted with the same old triggers that used to drive them to use before they began treatment, sometimes the temptation is simply too strong. Some common triggers include:
- Specific people, particularly the people with whom the addict use to use
- Specific places that evoke bad memories and negative urges
- The stress of attempting to “start over” when it comes to work and school
- Pressure from family or friends to be the “perfect” recovered addict
- Disappointment that sober life isn’t magical or perfect
To help you ensure that you won’t fall victim to a relapse upon your departure from rehab, here are some of the skills you need to succeed.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms Are Essential
At their core, addictive substances are simply coping mechanisms. Life is inherently stressful, difficult and can at times be quite painful. Non-addicts find healthy ways to cope with negative experiences, such as practicing self-care or exercising. Addicts, on the other hand, turn to substance abuse in order to numb the pain that life so often brings.
This is why healthy coping mechanisms are crucial if you want to avoid a relapse. Life outside of rehab isn’t going to be perfect. No matter how hopeful you might feel for the future, you’re going to encounter negative experiences and painful emotions. That’s just how life works whether you struggle with substance abuse or not.
Work with your outpatient team to come up with a list of things you can do to cope in the face of stressful experiences. Coping strategies such as journaling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help addicts to deal with pain without relapsing. Your health professional might also suggest that you find a hobby or physical pursuit that interests you.
Communication Skills Are Crucial
If addicts want to find success after rehab, communication skills are essential. You have to be able to clearly articulate your feelings, wants and needs. Many of the people in an addict’s life will never truly be able to understand their struggle. For example, family members often expect addicts to instantly become new people, as if rehab somehow rebooted their loved one to factory settings.
While rehab helps addicts to get clean, it doesn’t change who they are fundamentally as people. If you feel like the people in your life are expecting too much of you too quickly, it’s important that you respectfully but firmly articulate your feelings to them.
Furthermore, you need to be able to articulate to the people with whom you used to use that you are no longer interested in continuing a relationship with them. This can be very scary for people, as it’s essentially “breaking up” with the people with whom you used to be very close. However, staying in contact with friends who are active in their addictions can put a recovering addict at a serious risk for relapse.
Focus On Routine, Not Goals
It’s good to have goals for what you want your life to look like now that you’re no longer actively using. However, you’re not going to become a model student or a successful employee overnight. When you focus too much on a lofty goal, it’s easy to get disappointed that things aren’t happening quickly enough.
Instead, try to focus on sticking to a routine, such as waking up at the same time each day or completing a set list of household chores. The more you become accustomed to sticking to a routine, the easier it’ll be to eventually accomplish the things you’d like to accomplish down the road.
Staying sober after leaving a treatment facility is challenging, but it’s essential if you want to improve your life and escape from the clutches of addiction. If you’re someone who’s currently struggling with substance abuse but who knows that a brighter tomorrow is possible, contact us today at 833-846-5669 to learn more about how an inpatient treatment facility can help you to escape addiction and reclaim your life.