22 Mar Professional Tips for Long-Term Sobriety
Completing a drug and alcohol treatment program is a big step in your journey to recovery and long-term sobriety. However, the next and arguably most important step, is developing an aftercare program to ensure your addiction recovery is a long-term effort.
In your detox and rehabilitation program, you learned strategies and tips for getting sober. However, applying these skills and strategies within the context of a drug and alcohol treatment center is often easier than applying them in everyday life. After all, addiction treatment centers provide a structured and supportive environment that removes many of the stresses and pressures of daily life. It’s also a place where caring professionals eliminate triggers for relapse. Once you’re back home in your regular life, much of the structure and support of your recovery program are not as present.
Returning home from an inpatient treatment program can be overwhelming. You are left wondering how you can achieve long-term recovery in the days, weeks, months, years, and decades after you have completed an inpatient program. Luckily, there are things you can do after you finish treatment that can help you avoid a relapse and maintain the sobriety that you worked so hard to achieve.
Understanding Drug and Alcohol Relapse
As part of your recovery process, it is important to understand some basic facts about relapse. Relapse is when someone who has completed an addiction treatment program lapses back into drinking or using drugs. While relapse is not inevitable, it is relatively common for individuals who are on the road to long-term sobriety.
One of the biggest dangers of relapse is the potential for an accidental overdose. After completing a detox and rehabilitation program, your tolerance for drugs and alcohol is much lower than it was when you used these substances on a regular basis. As such, it’s much easier to misjudge how much of a substance your body can handle and accidentally take too much. While an overdose can be treated with prompt and appropriate medical attention, it can sometimes have life-altering health consequences or it can even be deadly.
A relapse can have a severe impact on your health, but you should not be hard on yourself if you experience one. You also should not think that your treatment has failed. Relapse prevention is a very tough part of this complicated process. Instead, you should look at relapse as a learning opportunity. Examine what was going on in your life and how you were feeling when the relapse occurred. This can help you identify potential triggers that could reappear in the future. When you recognize your triggers and weaknesses, you can take steps to avoid or manage them the next time they appear.
Relapse can be a sign that your treatment needs to be revisited or modified. It may also indicate that you need an entirely different treatment method. This is okay. Every person is unique and goes through the treatment and recovery process in their own way and own time. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment that will work for everyone. Take what you have learned from treatment and combine it with what you know about yourself and your life to create an individualized approach to your recovery.
How to Maintain Long-Term Sobriety
We highly recommend that you also educate yourself about other aspects of substance abuse and recovery. It may seem like boring and depressing research, but it does not have to be. Many authors and addiction recovery specialists take creative and innovative approaches to books and other resources that can make the learning process interesting and engaging. Additionally, learning from other people in recovery can be inspiring and uplifting to help you lead a sober life.
There is a wealth of information out there about how to achieve lasting sobriety and it can be overwhelming. To simplify things, here is a list of some basic tips for achieving and maintaining sobriety.
- Take it slow: After you leave a detox and rehab program, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the changes in your life and daily routine. It’s normal to feel this way, and you’re not the first person to experience it. Just keep in mind that there’s no need to rush your recovery. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. When things get difficult, take it hour by hour, or even minute by minute. It can sometimes be too daunting to think ahead any further than that.
- Think about the long-term benefits: Recovering from an addiction can be a long and grueling process. While you should take it day by day, you also shouldn’t get bogged down by minor challenges and setbacks. Recovery isn’t a straight path. It has twists, turns, and detours. However, if you can focus on the long-term benefits of sobriety, it can help you get through the tough times.
- Make adjustments: As you transition to life outside of a treatment program, you’ll notice that some things in your life will need to change. After treatment, your body has been cleansed of alcohol and drugs, and you reenter daily life with fresh insight and a new set of coping skills. Use these tools to see what needs to change in your life, and make those changes to support your sobriety. It will be an adjustment to transition back to daily life and it will take some time. Keep this mind and be patient with yourself.
- Avoid old friends: You don’t have to avoid all of your old friends. In fact, you should have strong interpersonal relationships. However, if you have certain friends who were your “drinking buddies” or who you always used drugs with, you should avoid the temptation to contact them. They might say that they won’t use alcohol or drugs around you, but they might not be able to keep that promise. Instead of falling back into old habits, take time to develop new hobbies and make new friends that do not revolve around addictive substances.
- Avoid enablers: Much like you must avoid friends who joined you in your old lifestyle of drug or alcohol addiction, you must also avoid the people who enabled you. While these individuals may not be alcohol or drug users, they still played a role in allowing your substance abuse to continue and could put you at risk of relapse. Whether they encouraged you or simply turned a blind eye, you should limit the role that these people play in your life.
- Don’t take on too much: You may feel amazing after you leave treatment. Your body is free of toxins and you’re ready to take on the world. It’s wonderful that you want to get involved in your life again, but be careful not to take on too much responsibility. If you over-commit yourself and take on too much, you could start to feel stressed and overwhelmed, which could potentially trigger a relapse.
- Find ways to manage stress: You can manage your stress by not taking on too much responsibility immediately after leaving a drug or alcohol treatment program; however, it’s impossible to eliminate all sources of stress in your life. Every day, you’ll face stressors in your work, your relationships, and other areas of your life. If you can remove yourself from a stressful situation, you should as soon as possible. However, you can’t always do this. In those cases, you should implement healthy stress reduction techniques, including exercise, meditation, journaling, counseling, and acupuncture.
- Take care of your physical health: When you’re struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, your physical health suffers. After you get clean and sober, it’s the perfect time to focus on taking care of your body. Work on getting the recommended amount of quality sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and incorporating exercise into your routine. Not only are these behaviors great for your body, but they can also help reduce stress, which is a win-win.
- Continue outpatient treatment and aftercare: To assist with your recovery, your treatment program will likely suggest aftercare programs and support group meetings. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t need these supports to maintain your sobriety. Continuing with aftercare is a critical component of your recovery, as the days, weeks, and months after you return home from a treatment program are when you are most vulnerable to relapse.
- Don’t get overconfident, but do believe in yourself: It’s a delicate balance. On one hand, you don’t want to be overconfident and assume that you’re completely cured of addiction. People with this mindset are more likely to think they can have just one drink or use drugs occasionally with no problem. This is very false, and one of the thought patterns that can lead to a relapse. However, you do need to have confidence and believe that you can recover from addiction. Starting out with the belief that you can accomplish your goals will give you the energy and focus you need to get to where you want to be in your recovery.
There are even more strategies that may help you as you travel the road to long-term sobriety. Feel free to utilize these sobriety tips and others that you find along the way. If you find that something does not work for you, don’t worry. You can always adapt or tailor it to your unique needs. If you find that a tip still is not working for you, you can always substitute it for a behavior or coping strategy that works better for you and your life.
Maintaining a clean and sober life is a process that requires ongoing learning, adjustments, and growth. It might seem like a lot of work, and it is, but your health and well-being are well worth the time and effort.
How to Stay Motivated During Recovery
As the recovery process continues, it can be difficult to stay motivated and committed to your sobriety. In the days and weeks after leaving your detox and treatment program, you might feel optimistic and surrounded by a rosy glow of hope. However, time and daily life may cause this feeling – and your motivation – to fade.
In addition to the tips mentioned above, there are several things you can do to stay motivated.
- Keep a journal: It doesn’t matter if you write in a private diary or you keep an online blog, the important thing is that you write down your successes. When you look back at your victories, both big and small, you can see how far you’ve come. Your victories can serve as motivation to keep you moving forward. You can also use journaling as a way to discover insights into your mind and behaviors.
- Commit to helping others: If you know someone who is also struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, you can offer your help and support. Whether it’s on a personal level or serving as an example at meetings for other recovering addicts, your support can go a long way for you and your peers. Not only will they benefit from your firsthand experience and knowledge, but helping them and serving as a role model can also strengthen your commitment to your own sobriety.
- Give back to the community: Many people find that it’s incredibly rewarding to volunteer and maintain active involvement in the community. Getting involved and giving back to others can give you a reason to stay sober.
It is important to realize that the road to recovery and sobriety is a lifelong journey, and relapse prevention looks different for each person. The best way to achieve sobriety is to make the recovery program your own. The keys to success involve finding what tips work for you and finding your motivation to stay sober.
You can achieve long-term and lifelong sobriety with the right treatment and support. Georgia Drug Detox provides a holistic approach to help patients detox and recover from alcohol and drug addiction. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our approach to treating addiction and ensuring your long-term recovery.