If you or a loved one has recently finished treatment or is close to wrapping up their time in a rehabilitation center, then it’s time to start thinking about how to make the transition from treatment to the regular world easier. The world can be familiar to a patient, and trying to blend in memories with current goals from treatment can be difficult in the beginning. Here are several steps you can take to help make the transition a little less stressful:
Find Sober Friends
According to the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, addictions often form through the influence of other people, such as friends or even family members. Peer pressure and the need to feel like part of the group is a potent motivator for drug use. Those who have friendships that are built solely on drugs find it difficult to interact and stay sober, since the temptation to use grows.
Having sober friends can be vital, since they’re willing to engage in fun activities that don’t involve substance abuse; temptation dissipates when people are surrounded by others who are sober.
Evaluate Your Neighborhood and Move If Necessary Find Sober Friends
For many, the old neighborhood can hold dark reminders about past substance abuse. Dark memories of finding their dealer on street corners, local bar fronts, and even parks can trigger addiction cravings and can often lead to relapse. For others, even their home can be unsafe. The Substance Use and Misuse journal found that many female substance users often lived with a current or former user. Returning to a home that’s filled with drugs, a person who had just left treatment could quickly find themselves regressing to their old habits.
Moving to a new area can help push aside temptation, providing new landscapes and opportunities to explore. Whether the neighborhood has fewer available drugs or just proves to be safer, the entire process of relocating can be just enough to push the old memories away.
Keep Follow-Up Appointments
Most drug rehabilitation programs sometimes work as a stair-step model, which means that follow-up appointments with a doctor or therapist are necessary until the person can handle sobriety by themselves. These appointments can help patients by:
- Processing feelings regarding work
- Dealing with family transitions
- Handling relapse triggers
- Setting goals for the future
- Strengthening their skills they obtained in treatment
Understandably, life can get hectic and demanding, but skipping follow-up appointments isn’t wise. Each follow-up appointment should be considered necessary towards the long-term success in sobriety.
Help Someone Else
By helping others, many are able to share their experiences and remember what it’s like to struggle for sobriety, thus reducing the risk of relapse. Helping could take on many forms and some don’t have anything to do with addiction at all:
- Mentoring/Tutoring a child in need
- Participating in community events
- Volunteering at an animal shelter
- Visiting seniors at an assisted living facility
- Volunteering at a soup kitchen
The gesture of giving back and doing good for the community gives off a great feeling of happiness and accomplishment. Additionally, volunteering is a great activity to help a person maintain sobriety, learn new skills, and help others in need.
Focus On Mental Health
The stress of returning to an old routine after treatment can be intense, especially if there is a constant urge for regressing back to old habits. It’s easy to just focus on the negativity, but this can lead to depression and ultimately, relapse. The key is to find a time each day to do something positive, either through meditation, writing, or volunteering for a few hours.
Sometimes even physical exercise can play a role; the Mayo Clinic reports that depression and anxiety levels seem to decrease when a person engages in regular physical activity. These actions, whether it’s taking a walk or riding a bike, can help a person feel a little bit stronger and a substantially healthier in the long run.
Find A Support Group
Many drug rehabilitation programs utilize support groups, since it can boost a feeling of affiliation and help people achieve and maintain sobriety. After treatment, it can be tempting to skip your follow-up appointments and meetings altogether, but attending these groups can provide great benefits that casual talks with family and friends cannot. Meetings give the opportunity for the person to say things that family and friends just might not understand unless they’ve been in the same situation themselves. Attending meetings can be inspirational, and possess a strong roster of people to talk to about their journey towards a healthier life.
Stay Alert For Signs Of Relapse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that addiction is a chronic illness, and nearly 40 to 60 percent of people who have been diagnosed relapse at least once. People with addictions will need to adjust their lives and be on alert if they expect to keep the problem from surfacing.
The key is finding out where their triggers are, such as a feeling of sadness or loss or missing the sensation of happiness or invincibility. When these thoughts build and the emotional weight gets heavier, a relapse is bound to take place, but being able to capture and identify these thoughts is vital. When such thoughts do occur, there are a few things a person can do to rid of the negativity, such as going back to therapy, catching a support group meeting, visiting a sober friend, or engaging in a healthy activity.
Supportive friends and family members can also be helpful, since they might know what a relapse looks like and how it can be triggered. Speaking up when they sense trouble can help get the affected person more intensive treatment before they harm themselves or use again.
Let Us Help You Stay On Track To Sobriety
At DrugRehab.org we are committed to helping individuals suffering from addiction by getting the assistance and support they need to forge a path towards sobriety. If you or a loved one needs additional assistance or advice on how to make the transition out of treatment easier, contact us today.