Each year, thousands of people with drug or alcohol dependence challenges make a conscious effort to break the habit. However, the path to recovery has never been a jolly ride in the park. Frustrations arising from relapses can be prevented if you take the right steps, especially from the onset.
If you are currently receiving treatment at a drug rehabilitation center, you are obviously looking forward to a time when you can complete your treatment and return to your family, job and normal routine. The first week out of rehab is very crucial in the recovery process as you may have to combat post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) which can lead to cravings.
What you do in the first week outside the rehab center will go a long way in determining how soon you will gain full recovery and independence from your drug problems. Likely, you are eager to get off to a fresh start. On the other hand, you may be uncertain how long you can go without returning to your old ways. What can you do to handle the pressures that come with returning to a drug-free life?
The following expert advice has helped many individuals get past the stigma and lead a normal life again.
- Don’t try to do it alone – You need a support system
First off, you have to recognize that you need support and encouragement from others – family, friends, self-help groups and organizations. It is imperative that those undergoing substance abuse treatments attend 12-step meetings especially during the first week out of drug rehab.
These programs are not only important while you are in rehab, but are equally essential during your first week out and going forward. In twelve-step meetings, you will find support and encouragement from your peers, helping to avoid any possible relapses. Intense physical and emotional symptoms are usually experienced in the first one or two weeks. With encouragement from this support group, you will find the needed motivation to beat your cravings.
Next, you need to get a sponsor. Who is a sponsor and what is their role in your journey to recovery? Simply put, a sponsor is someone who serves as a guide or confidant who can assist you through recovery. Now you might be wondering: “Do I really need a sponsor?” It is up to you to decide. There are no hard and fast rules to it. However, there are great benefits to having one.
Numerous studies indicate that newly recovered addicts and alcoholics with a sponsor usually experience better recovery outcomes than those without sponsors. Usually, a sponsor has experiences that are similar to yours and can help you withstand the pressures associated with readjustment back into the real world. Your sponsor will hold you accountable while your 12-step program lasts. There are times when you will need to discuss some confidential issues with someone whom you can trust. Here is where your sponsor comes in handy. You can share your feelings with your sponsor without fear or embarrassment. Having a sponsor will certainly make your walk through the 12-step journey more purposeful.
So, how do you find yourself a sponsor? Usually, at the end of a twelve-step meeting, calls may be made for those who wish to volunteer as sponsors. Here comes your chance to get a sponsor. Feel free to approach any among them. What if you are rejected? If this happens, don’t be discouraged, move on to the next person!
- Continue with your counseling program
Your rehab program will likely include individual and group counseling. These sessions provide you with opportunities to interact with your peers as well as others who have successfully broken free from drug addiction. During these meetings, you will learn the value of seeking assistance from others with related experiences.
Also at these meetings, you will be assisted to acquire the skills needed to lead a normal drug-free life. Furthermore, you will be helped to recognize situations that may serve as triggers and how to avoid them. As your substance abuse treatment progresses, your counselor will attempt to know more about you in order to help you with recognizing behaviors and patterns that led to your drug dependence. This is vital in formulating a successful recovery plan.
- Recognize warning signs
Nothing can be more frustrating for someone who has vowed to live a sober drug-free life than finding himself returning to his old habits. Usually, the signs are there but most people undergoing drug rehab fail to recognize them or they were simply overconfident. This doesn’t have to happen to you.
You need to understand that relapse isn’t an event, rather it is a process. Before the actual physical relapse, there is usually a battle in your mind. With the right support, that battle can be won. If you spot the warning signs early, you will likely take precautionary measures to avoid a relapse.
Here are some common circumstances that may act as triggers leading to a relapse:
Familiar places: These may be places where you do purchase drugs or hang out with friends who do drugs in the past.
Physical and/or emotional isolation: Isolation makes it all easier to dwell on negative thoughts and emotions, fueling the urge to engage in harmful behaviors.
Friends: Keeping close company with friends who still engage in drug abuse weakens your defenses, making future relapses a higher possibility.
Your first week out of rehab will likely be filled with pressures and temptations. However, with the right support system, your journey to recovery will be a lot easier. These suggestions have helped many regain their lives again, and hopefully, they will help you too.