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Change is hard. When you’re learning to live without drugs or alcohol after years of addiction, it can be even more difficult. Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced world where everyone expects an instant fix. But addiction can’t be “fixed” overnight. It takes time, patience and work.
By participating in a treatment program, you’ve made a good start toward recovery, but you’re not done. Once you leave the structured environment of a treatment facility, you may find it more difficult to maintain your new lifestyle.
But it’s not impossible. There are people and programs in place to support you. Let’s take a look at four steps you can take to help you stay sober after you finish a treatment program and re-enter “the real world.”
Addiction recovery is too hard to manage on your own. Your chance of recovery is much higher when you have a solid support system.
We want you to surround yourself with family and friends who believe in and encourage you, but we also recommend you join a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. We see time and again that the people who stay sober the longest are those who go to meetings and engage with others who are fighting the same battle.
I have patients tell me, “I’m not a meeting person,” or “I don’t believe in that stuff.” I respond that I think everyone should go through a 12-step program, not just those fighting addiction. It’s not just about drinking or using drugs; it’s about taking yourself apart and rebuilding yourself into a person who is more caring, open, patient and non-judgmental. When people experience that, they begin to feel more confident in themselves, and the struggle to stay sober becomes less of a burden.
There are support groups you can join if you also struggle with mental health issues such as depression or bipolar disorder.
You may find that you need to distance yourself from some people because they are not supporting you the way you need or because they engage in activities that are detrimental to your recovery. Talk with your therapist or treatment facilitators about ways you can manage these situations.
A continuing care program can provide many benefits, including additional structure and accountability. It also allows us to maintain a relationship with you after you finish a treatment program and intervene if needed. The focus on the initial treatment is to help you get sober while the focus of a continuing care program is: “Now that you’re sober, how are you dealing with your emotions, your relationships, and work?”
Many substance abuse treatment programs take place in a group setting. Once you have completed your program, we recommend you make an appointment with an individual therapist. During these meetings, you can begin to work on any personal, relationship or communication issues you may be struggling with in addition to the addiction.
During our substance abuse treatment program, we ask patients to list what’s important to them and develop action plans surrounding those items. For example, if you value family, what are you going to do to demonstrate and engage in that value? Your list could also include identifying a hobby to take up or to get better at. Once you leave the treatment program, it’s time to put your plans into action.
Substance abuse recovery is a journey, and there are bound to be bumps along the way. But with hard work and a strong support system, you can find long-term success. To learn how you can begin working toward a substance-free life, schedule an appointment online or call 630-305-5027.
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