The drug addiction treatment program or alcoholism lasts only for a few months, at this time, the patient is working hard on himself, gaining the necessary knowledge about addiction and acquiring the necessary skills that he can apply throughout his life in the struggle for sobriety. But sooner or later a person finishes the program and returns to normal life in society. The addicted person continues to work on himself and this is a life-long process, but one way or another busy days in the rehabilitation center are coming to an end. An already changed personality finds itself in an old, familiar environment and, at first, it is difficult for him to replace pop-up memories with new goals. The following 7 steps will help make the transition to a new sober life less painful.
1. Find sober friends
As you know, often dependence is formed under the influence of the negative influence of others. Several studies published in the Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology clearly demonstrate that peer pressure is a strong motivator to start using alcohol and drugs. Thus, people who spend time with friends who use drugs are more likely to try them compared to people who spend time with sober friends. Thus, it is much more difficult for a person who continues to communicate, goes to parties, celebrates something together, goes to visit and somehow communicates with drunk friends after undergoing a rehabilitation program, since he is constantly tempted to use again. Friendship with sober people is an essential factor in maintaining your own sobriety. Sober people will want to have fun without using substances. Thus, the desire to use again surrounded by sober people is reduced to nothing.
2. Assess your surroundings. If you think you need to move to another place to stay sober, do so immediately
For some people, the old place of residence is inextricably linked to persistent memories of use. They can live in a place where every day they walk past a drug dealer, past the usual cafes, bars, street corners and parks, at the sight of which immediately the memories of alcohol or drug intoxication pop up. These memories can serve as a powerful trigger for an irresistible urge to re-use, which is impossible for some to overcome. For other people, their own home can become such an unsafe place. For example, a study in the journal Drug Abuse proves that women who used intravenous drugs often lived with someone who was currently or previously using drugs. When such a person undergoes rehabilitation, he needs to return to a house full of drugs, so a breakdown is not far off.
Moving to another area or even a city can help get rid of unnecessary associations and open up new opportunities for a person. You need to find a place and such an area where you will feel safe, the new environment will be so different that it can affect the fact that you will not remember the old. If it’s unsafe to stay where you used to live, or if it’s too difficult for you to live under the burden of memories at the sight of familiar places, you may need to seriously consider moving.
3. Take the Resocialization Program
Our rehabilitation program is structured in such a way that a person receives treatment and, step by step, it becomes less intense, until the patient can remain sober on his own, without outside interference. The third integral stage in getting rid of addiction is resocialization, or adaptation in society, surrounded by sober people who have also gone through a rehabilitation program. During this time, recovering patients live in rented apartments or houses, participate in therapeutic support groups “at home” and at any time have the opportunity to speak personally with a counselor. At the stage of resocialization, a person learns responsibility and care for himself, others and finances. Patients walk, have fun, go shopping, cook, clean in groups of several, so the person is never alone. The issuance of finance is also strictly accountable. Thus, despite the fact that the rehabilitation in a closed hospital is formally completed, clients continue to be under the supervision of a psychotherapist, learning to live a sober life in an open hospital surrounded by sober people.
Life can get busy and demand a lot from you, but we do not recommend skipping the post-program maintenance or “resocialization” phase. Work on oneself must continue and every day of the resocialization program must be perceived as necessary to maintain sobriety in the future.
4. Focus on mental health
Returning to normal life can be stressful and agitated, especially if a person is experiencing strong cravings for drugs or alcohol, in such a situation it is easy to start focusing on the negative. Sadness can gradually consume a person until a relapse occurs. In order to avoid this, you need to find time in every day to do something that will give you a charge of positive emotions, something good. For example, some time in the morning meditation can help dispel the clouds of anxiety and give you the peace you need to get through the rest of your day.
The positive impact of playing sports should also not be underestimated. While researchers have not yet fully explored the relationship between physical and mental health, some clinical studies suggest that if a person exercises regularly, they are less prone to depression and all sorts of mental disorders. Walking the dog, swimming in the pool, exercising in the gym or just jogging in the morning will help improve your mood, provide you with a boost of energy, vigor and make you feel healthier.
5. Find an AN or AA group in your city
Our rehabilitation program involves regular communication of psychotherapists and sponsors with alumni and participation of the latter in support groups. You can also visit groups of Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous in your city, in such groups addicts feel that they are not alone and receive the necessary support in order to achieve and remain sober. Once the rehab program is over, it is tempting to skip these meetings and instead just talk to family members or friends in an informal setting. But you need to understand that regular conversations cannot replace visiting specialized support groups.
In support groups, people continue to learn more about their addiction and join the circle of people who have also managed to cope with the problems associated with their own addictions. They are surrounded and can talk to people who are united by one goal – sobriety. Such meetings are very inspiring, the addict can share with them what family members may simply not understand. In other words, meetings simply cannot be missed. They are a necessary part of the healing process.
6. Help someone else
In rehabilitation, most of the time is devoted to learning what needs to be done to stay sober on your own, but research shows that helping someone else is essential for the process of your own recovery. For example, a study in the journal Addiction found that recovering alcoholics who help others achieve sobriety are less likely to return to drinking. Helping others, according to the principle of “equal to equal”, two people share similar experiences, thus an already sober person reminds himself of what it cost to achieve sobriety. Thus, minor daily worries disappear and this contributes to the fact that a person tries even more to establish himself in the principles that he has learned during rehabilitation. This principle is practiced at the stage of resocialization and later, when graduates with a long period of sobriety, who have already completed the program, help by their example to recover “recruits” with a shorter period of sobriety, support them in their recovery by telephone and establish friendly and trusting relationships. Where “your” is always ready to listen and help “his”.
When a person gives a part of himself to another and does a good deed, he feels happy and fulfilled, this is the feeling that a person needs in order to establish himself in sobriety when he has already completed the rehabilitation program.
7. Watch out for signs of impending breakdown
According to WHO, addiction is a chronic disease, as a result, 40-60% of addicted people break down after undergoing rehabilitation at least once. However, this does not mean that the treatment is ineffective, it means that addicted people need to make efforts to change their lives for the better and be on the alert so that the problem does not come back with renewed vigor. First, they need to recognize an impending breakdown. For some, it is a feeling of sadness and loss. For others, it can be a feeling of happiness and invincibility. These thoughts swirl more and more into a whirlpool until a relapse occurs. Isolating and catching the wrong thought is the key to preventing an impending breakdown. When such thoughts arise, the person needs to visit a therapy group, meet with a person who has been sober for a long time, or otherwise stop this cycle.
Friends and family can help as well, as they can also recognize when a breakdown is coming or know how it usually starts. They cannot be expected to intervene and prevent a relapse, but they can tell the addict about it or voice their concerns when they feel they are coming, which can encourage the addict to seek support in the right place.
At Transformation, we know that patient follow-up is instrumental for long-term success. We help our clients develop a robust disruption prevention plan and maintain relationships with clients through peer support groups, personal counseling, and more. If you would like to learn more about our approach to accompanying graduates, please call us.
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