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How to Avoid Relapse

January 19, 2010 by admin 

Successfully completing a drug rehab program is a great accomplishment, and it is a very difficult and challenging undertaking. For most people, however, simply getting through substance abuse treatment is not the end of the challenges that they face: Avoiding relapse is arguably one of the most difficult parts of maintaining recovery over time.

In many ways, remaining drug-free is even more challenging than going through the initial treatment process simply because the maintenance part of drug treatment is a lifelong journey that has no true end. For people who were once addicted to drugs, trying to avoid succumbing to the temptation to use drugs again can be the most difficult thing they will ever have to deal with.

Tips and Strategies to Prevent Relapse

Most substance abuse professionals agree that a strong relapse prevention education program is a crucial component of substance abuse treatment. Such programs need to be taught while patients are going through their initial drug treatment so that the importance of following them can be emphasized from the beginning.

As part of a comprehensive aftercare treatment program, patients tend to fare much better if they follow a structured plan for success. There are five basic tips that professionals recommend to help patients avoid a relapse once their drug treatment is complete.

Avoid situations that will put you near temptation. These types of situations can be emotional or physical. For example, try to avoid being around people who force you to dwell more on the times when you were using drugs. You should also avoid going to places that remind you of the times when you used drugs, as it may be more tempting to start using again.

Do not bottle your feelings inside. Instead of keeping everything bottled up, try to get in the habit of expressing yourself as much as possible, particularly when something is really bothering you. A great way to maintain a constant outlet for expressing your feelings is to participate in a support group as part of your aftercare treatment program. This will also allow you to obtain support and objective opinions from your peers who attend the support group with you.

Never think of a slip-up as a failure. If you make a mistake and use drugs, do not let it put you in the mindset of thinking that you are a failure and that you have messed up beyond repair. There is always a new opportunity to redeem yourself and get back on track with your recovery. If you slip up, think of it as a lesson learned and make a promise to yourself that you will not let it happen again. Learning from your mistakes will go a long way toward helping you remain true to your commitment to be drug free for the long haul.

Find constructive ways to spend your free time. A great thing to do to keep yourself occupied in a positive way is to cultivate some constructive hobbies. Find some things that you are truly interested in so that you do not find yourself getting bored too often. You might choose to get involved in a regular exercise program, learn to paint or get involved in volunteer work. You might also decide to take some classes to further your education.

Avoid spending time with people who are not supportive of your drug-free lifestyle. One of the best ways to stay true to your new commitment is to steer clear of people who do not support your healthier lifestyle. This will probably mean that you will need to distance yourself from the people you used to hang out with when you were actively doing drugs, but in the long run it will be to your benefit to dissolve those unhealthy relationships.

In order to be successful at maintaining their drug-free status, most people also need the love and support of their family and friends. It is critical that recovering addicts have people that they can turn to in times of great stress or difficulty so that they can avoid the temptation of falling back into the cycle of drug use and abuse.

Choosing a Substance Abuse Treatment Program

Because aftercare programs are such an integral part of any substance abuse treatment program, it is very important that you choose a method of treatment that will provide a complete regimen of care. When you are evaluating treatment programs, make sure that they offer a comprehensive aftercare program that will help you well beyond your initial recovery.

In order to ensure success, you need to choose a program that will provide you with individual and group counseling sessions on an ongoing basis so that you can have the continual support of not only a trained therapist, but your peers as well.

Peer support is just as important in this process as having the support of a therapist simply because it helps so much to be able to talk to other people who are going through the same experience that you are dealing with.

Whatever treatment program you choose, know that recovery is a life-long journey. Relapse is a very definite possibility, but by using the strategies above, your chances for relapse decrease and your long-term chances of sobriety skyrocket.

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