Relapses are a real danger for people after they complete a program of detoxification and rehabilitation. Re-exposure to old temptations and triggers can undo all the hard work of regaining sobriety. So, the question most people ask is, how do you prevent relapse after rehab? You need a plan, structured by a professional recovery center, that will guide you through the challenges of returning to a regular life. And you will need help and support.
Changes are Required
To say that changes are required may sound like an understatement or something that is obvious. That may be, but it is vital that the changes required are spelled out in a plan of action the patient can follow to prevent a relapse after rehab.
Specificity is valuable because it adds clarity to what the patient needs to do. Clear steps to a successful recovery with accompanying timelines provide a guide that makes it easier to remain sober and prevent relapse after rehab. Changes may be required in several areas, including attitudes, coping skills, mental and physical health, family life, and social activities.
Like any plan, the patient needs to report results at regular, agreed upon intervals to demonstrate progress. Reporting can be through therapy sessions or mental and physical health checkups. This may be hard for certain patients. It may be challenging to get to the checkups and therapy sessions. Or, the effect of renewed sobriety may instill the feeling that the patient can go it alone now. The recovery plan depends upon these interactions, so every effort must be made to ensure they can be accomplished by the patient.
Five Rules of Recovery
According to an article by Steven M. Melemis and available online here, he sees five rules to successful recovery, based on more than 30 years treating patients recovering from addiction. Those rules are: 1) change your life; 2) be completely honest; 3) ask for help; 4) practice self-care; and 5) don’t bend the rules. He has found these rules to be effective in preventing relapses and that teaching patients these rules helps them understand that the recovery process is straightforward and something they can accomplish.
Example Steps to Prevent Relapse after Rehab
Many actions and components can become part of a patient’s recovery program following rehab. Several possibilities are described below as examples of what the patient might expect in their plan. When designed by an addiction recovery specialist, the plan will be customized to each patient, reflecting their particular needs.
Note: Looking at the five rules listed in the previous section, the activities and steps below relate to numbers 1 and 4.
Hang out with the right people
The patient needs to be especially careful not to socialize with the same substance users and abusers who enabled their addictive behavior before rehab. Doing so is a temptation not worth the risk. The patient needs to associate with people who are sober and supportive of their efforts to stay sober.
Avoid going to places that provide temptations
This is similar to not associating with people who were bad influences in the past. Going to favorite bars or clubs while suffering from addiction is another temptation not worth the risk. It is better to build new favorite places that support a sober lifestyle rather than those that remind them of their past life.
Develop a healthy lifestyle
Proper nutrition and exercise can be effective boosters to prevent relapse after rehab and increase the chances for continued sobriety. Both help heal the body during recovery. Neglecting these areas can create stresses and physical discomfort that can produce the desire to use a drug or alcohol to counter these unpleasant effects. For example, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can cause cravings for the substance. Lack of exercise can contribute to depression and anxiety, emotions that also were previously treated by substance use.
Create and follow a schedule
One contributor to addiction is a feeling of being overwhelmed, of being out of control. These feelings fuel anxiety and create stress, which in the past, the patient overcame with substance use. Having a detailed schedule and routine gives the patient control over most aspects of daily life. Having and following a schedule is an effective way to counter feeling overwhelmed or not in control.
Staying active and involved in activities that have importance and meaning to the patient is another change that can help them stay sober. A schedule is important, but so is being active. Activity keeps the mind occupied and focused on things other than substance use. Hobbies are one avenue to pursue, and therapies built around activities like art, music, yoga and horses can be very effective. Volunteering in a cause or activity that is meaningful to the patient is also an excellent way to stay sober.
Ask for Help
Patients should not attempt to plan their own recovery or go it alone to prevent relapse after rehab. Carus Recovery Center can help design and deliver the perfect plan for your recovery, or for someone you know or love. Contact or call us at 877-225-7724 to learn how we can help.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in place of professional assistance.