Millions of people opt for drug rehab every year, but not all of them stay clean and sober for the long haul. Relapse is more common than one can imagine, with almost 50% of individuals experiencing it within the first 12 weeks after completing an intensive inpatient program. The risk of addiction and relapse varies for people, but it is definitely a reason to worry for everyone.
Relapse prevention is a vital aspect of addiction treatment because it enables you to sustain the results. After all, a single incident of re-use can waste all the hard work and get you back on the wrong road. Fortunately, people going through treatment can follow a few tried-and-tested strategies to ensure safety during rehab.
Here are a few actionable measures to maintain sobriety and prevent relapse during and after your addiction treatment program:
Determine Your Triggers
Substance addiction treatment is a complex process, varying from person to person. It also depends on the substance you are addicted to. If you are stuck with weed addiction, you should learn more than how to quit smoking weed and maintain the progress. At this point, you should assess your risk for relapse and determine the potential triggers that may lead to it.
Once again, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all definition for relapse triggers. While triggers vary for people, studies examine a few common factors that may hinder your recovery:
- Emotional factors such as stress, frustration, anxiety and boredom can often lead you toward addictive behavior even after achieving your sobriety goals.
- Being around people, places and situations reminding you of using drugs or alcohol can trigger cravings.
- Demographic triggers include age, gender, educational background, occupation, employment status and marital status.
Watch Out for Early Red Flags
Knowing your triggers enables you to avoid them and stay safe from a relapse. But it isn’t an assurance of safety during rehab, regardless of the extent or type of addiction. Did you know you can develop a substance abuse disorder at some point? Statistics show that 30% of marijuana users end up with cannabis use disorder (CUD). Relapse risks run high for such patients.
The Canadian Centre for Addictions cautions users to watch out for the early red flags of addiction because habits are not the same as addiction. The indications of a relapse are similar to addiction red flags.
Here are the signs you should be aware of and seek help as soon as you notice them:
- Poor eating habits
- Lack of proper grooming
- Sleep deprivation
- Mood swings
- Discontinuing participation in recovery activities
Join an Aftercare Program
The length of an addiction recovery program depends on a person’s situation, from the extent of addiction to their expectations and recovery goals. For some, a few weeks of outpatient treatment may be enough to come out clean. Conversely, individuals with chronic addiction may require intensive inpatient treatment lasting several weeks.
While relapse can happen at any point in time during the treatment journey, its possibility increases after completing the program. You may easily give in to a craving when you are no longer accountable to your therapist or peer group. The best safety strategy in this context is to join an aftercare program to support you after addiction treatment.
An aftercare program is tailor-made to help patients avoid relapse. It includes regular therapist visits, anonymous sessions and support group meetings to help you create a routine of accountability. You can also rely on it to set positive goals, focus on progress and steer clear of negative thoughts.
Invest in Relapse Prevention Planning
Relapse prevention planning is about strengthening your defenses and adapting your life after addiction treatment. You can start early and stick with a plan throughout your recovery experience. It enables you to define your coping strategies and motivations that can help you stay sober for the long haul. R
A plan offers structure, assurance and guidance through the challenging times when you feel tempted to pick the habit during and after recovery. It also focuses on creating a safe environment without any triggers. It offers a way out of triggering situations and keeps you on the right track.
Adopt a Healthy and Positive Lifestyle
Perhaps the simplest way to build your defenses against addiction relapse is to adopt a healthy and positive lifestyle. Besides keeping you from falling for the cravings again, a healthy lifestyle sets you up for long-term well-being and a better quality of life. The best part is that you can maintain the momentum once you get your habits on track.
Develop healthy habits and commit to a routine after completing your addiction treatment. Stick with the basics, such as eating a balanced diet, following an exercise schedule, getting adequate sleep and avoiding stress. Also, practice gratitude as a grateful life has no room for drugs and alcohol. Surround yourself with positive people who always encourage and motivate you.
Be Reasonable With Your Long-Term Goals
Addiction is a long journey rather than an overnight achievement. Beyond achieving the short-term goal of recovery, you should follow a long-term objective of sustaining a drug-free life. Trying too hard can stress you out, compounding the relapse risk. Having realistic and reasonable expectations keeps you on the safe side.
Create incremental goals, such as a week or month of sobriety, as the initial milestones. You can extend them as you progress on the path to recovery. Breaking long-term goals into smaller milestones makes them more achievable. At the same time, small successes motivate you to try harder to sustain the outcomes of your treatment program.
The Bottom Line
Relapse is an integral part of the addiction recovery roadmap for most people. Even a single episode of indulgence can take you back to the starting line. Even worse, you may get into the habit again. But a couple of episodes should not derail your addiction recovery journey if you are serious about achieving your sobriety goals.
A conscious effort to build your defenses against relapse can save you the pain of failing and starting your journey from scratch. You can adopt these strategies to create a safety net during rehab and after recovery.