How to Avoid a Relapse after Rehab
Completing a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program is an admirable accomplishment. It is an important step on your road to sobriety – however, it is the first step. You will constantly need to choose sobriety now that you have detoxified, been given new ways to cope and have been introduced to a sober way of living.
Immediately after leaving rehab you will be back in the real world and your usual surroundings. Your decisions in the first few days, weeks and months are crucial to pursuing a lasting life of sobriety. By considering the below suggestions, you will learn how to avoid a relapse after rehab.
According to an article published by the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, support groups play an important role after rehab. The authors state, “Support groups provide spirituality based fellowships that support not only the achievement and maintenance of abstinence from alcohol and other drug use, but also lifelong character development.” Support groups are important allies in avoiding a relapse after rehab. Chances are your rehab facility provided you with a number or resources to follow up on. Do this as soon as possible. You can also find support groups at many local churches and community centers.
Know Your Triggers
William R. Miller, of the Baldwin Research Institute, released a study that found that with self-control training there is a 68% success rate of avoiding a relapse. The key factor of self-control hinges on knowing and understanding triggers. Triggers are anything that catalyzes the urge to use. They can be visual or emotional. For some, being offered a drink can be a trigger. Seeing a substance used in a movie or mentioned in a song can also be a trigger. Effective drug rehab counselors have found that knowing your triggers, and what to do when they occur, can greatly assist in avoiding a relapse.
- Make a complete list of your triggers. Certain songs, movies and even certain habits can be triggers. Anything that may trigger the urge to use should go on this list.
- People who are currently using or do not support your rehab should also be on your list. Being around drug or alcohol use is generally a strong emotional trigger for former addicts.
- Also consider places where you once used. Simply driving by your old favorite bar or visiting a friend’s house where you would regularly get high can both be triggers.
Now that you have your list together, develop a strategy for how to proceed if a trigger should catalyze a desire to use. If a known trigger is a song or movie, and it comes on, simply change it. The more difficult triggers are former friends and places. You may have to remove certain people from your life if they do not support your rehab. It may even go as far as having to find a new place to live or a new job.
Explore New Interests
A collaborate research effort released in 2009 by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that when former addicts simply remove their use, they are left with a void in their life. So much of their time and money used to go towards this one thing; once it is removed many recovering addicts literally don’t know what to do. The NIH study concluded that exploring new hobbies and interests can greatly assist in filling this void and provide you with a new passion for life.
- Start playing a new instrument, or reignite your passion for an old one.
- Become involved with a local sports team. This can provide you with a needed sense of community.
- Pursue a higher education.
- Sign up for a gym and work out several times a week.
- Become a regular at a local yoga studio or martial arts dojo. Both of these will help you control your mind.
Monitor Your Behavior
Dr. Neill, a rehabilitation psychologist and author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic, states that there are four relapse warning signs. By being aware of these signs within yourself, you can see a relapse coming and prevent it from occurring:
- Lying – There is no such thing as small lie. Lying often results in dist
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