In the recent past, people believed that addiction could be cured by a stint in detox and maybe rehab as well. However, in the last few decades, it’s become abundantly clear that there’s a lot more to it than that. Science categorizes substance use disorders as chronic diseases. This means that instead of seeking treatment to get cured, you’re learning how to manage your symptoms and avoid relapse.
At Changing Tides, a dedicated therapist creates a customized aftercare plan for substance abuse. Call us today at 252-715-3905 to find out more.
Aftercare Is Much More Than a Formality
Unfortunately, some of the clients who have come through our doors see rehab and aftercare as a formality. If you’re not invested and engaged in the entire process from start to finish, your chances of relapse are significantly higher. Even if you take rehab seriously but neglect aftercare, you’re at a greater risk of slipping back into old habits.
Substance use disorders take over your life, causing a huge shift in lifestyle. This shift happens as your interests narrow and you become increasingly honed in on drug or alcohol abuse. Aftercare is as much about ensuring your lifestyle is conducive to recovery as it is about identifying triggers and implementing emotional coping mechanisms.
Addiction Is a Chronic Disease
You need to know that addiction is a chronic disease to help you understand the importance of aftercare in addiction treatment.
When you get a viral infection in your lungs, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics that cure the infection. Viral infections aren’t chronic diseases. On the other hand, type one diabetes is a chronic illness. Someone with this diagnosis needs to take insulin and monitor their blood sugar levels to ensure they stay healthy. If they don’t follow the doctor’s recommendations, they can get very sick.
Addiction is the same type of illness. In rehab, you get substance abuse treatment to help you stop using drugs, understand why you took them in the first place and devise coping mechanisms to prevent you from turning back to them in the future. You’ll work with therapists and doctors to understand your specific motivations for abusing substances, and they’ll teach you how to cope better.
That’s really just the beginning of recovery, though. Just because you’ve spent several months learning how to change your mindset and behavior, it doesn’t mean that’s ingrained for life. Once rehab is completed, you’ll need to follow the doctor’s and therapists advice about how to maintain your recovery in the long term.
Aftercare Plan for Substance Abuse
Over decades of studying addiction treatment outcomes, experts are now fully aware that relapse is at times part of the recovery process of addiction. However, attending aftercare treatment and actively maintaining the work you did at rehab can radically minimize this risk.
Get a Personalized Aftercare Plan From Changing Tides
At Changing Tides, your dedicated therapist devises an aftercare plan for you. This might involve attending 12-step meetings, group and individual counseling, medication management and tools such as urine drug screening monitoring and breathalyzers in order to help you remain sober. Pay close attention and make sure you access the resources that are recommended to you. If you have any questions or worries, speak openly about them.
Learn the Importance of Asking for Help
One of the things you’ll learn during your time in treatment is that keeping feelings inside is a recipe for disaster. Negative thoughts have so much more impact when we keep them in and let them fester. If you have any bad thoughts or you feel compelled to act in a negative way, speak to someone about it.
Whether you call us here at Changing Tides, speak to a family member or even seek advice from a free counseling service online, there are plenty of ways to ask for help. A lot of people who struggle with addiction feel like they’re a burden. Something else you’ll learn at treatment is that asking for help before you get into trouble is easier for you and the people who want to help you.
Attend Meetings Indefinitely
When you’ve finished a drug or alcohol treatment program, the doctors and therapists will recommend that you attend AA, NA or another type of support group. We also recommend that they continue the services we provide such as: group and individual addiction therapy, medication management, yoga, exercise, and some tool to help keep them accountable such as urine drug screen monitoring and breathalyzer tools. Think of this as a weekly appointment that keeps you on the right track. These group sessions follow a format similar to the ones you attend during treatment.
One of the great things about 12-step meetings is the way you progress as part of a community. In the beginning, members who are in long-term recovery will take you under their wing and give you advice and care. As time progresses, you’ll become one of the long-term success stories that helps new people. The accountability and sense of responsibility you get from these free meetings are inspiring, and definitely worth not missing out on.
What Is Relapse Prevention?
The main point of aftercare is relapse prevention. If possible, we’d recommend that you also work with a therapist for at least a year. Even if you don’t have an individual therapist, you can use the internet and resources from treatment to educate yourself about recovery maintenance.
Understand Addiction and Triggers
You’ll learn about the mechanism behind addiction in treatment. However, it’s crucial that you gain as clear an understanding of the way it affects you. Very few people understand the full extent of the strain they’re putting on their minds and bodies. Once you do, it’s easier to rationally avoid drug or alcohol use.
However, substance abuse is not always a rational choice. Sometimes, emotional triggers make it incredibly difficult to control your actions. The key to recovery is learning how to catch yourself when you feel this way and try to de-escalate.
Focus on the Future
Think about all the awesome goals you can achieve if you’re free from drugs and alcohol. No matter how tough you are, plying your brain with substances holds you back. Work hard to be the best version of yourself and you’ll feel the effects on your self-esteem almost instantly.
There’s No Shame in Relapse
Guilt and shame have no place in recovery because they don’t help you move forward. People who struggle with addiction often have these sorts of feelings. If you don’t seek help and express how you feel, you can spin into a cycle of negativity — which makes relapse more likely. Sometimes relapse can be a part of the recovery process, however ensuring that you move forward from a relapse in the appropriate way is key. This may mean you need additional support whether it be treatment or more aggressive meetings.