Rehabilitation Programs Help, But They Aren’t a Magic Fix
Enrolling in a rehab program is the first step on a journey toward living a substance-free life, but it is by no means the magic solution that guarantees future success. Going through rehab definitely can help individuals stop using drugs or alcohol for now and equip them with coping skills to avoid future substance abuse. However, individuals also need to do their part to fill in several gaps where rehabilitation programs just can’t provide the full solution.
Prevent Future Relapse
A certificate of completion from a rehabilitation program indicates that a drug user has embarked on a new type of lifestyle, but it can’t predict future behavior. Someone can go through the motions of rehab and then switch right back into their old way of life as soon as they get home. That’s why it’s so important to select a rehab program of the appropriate type and length, so it will provide adequate training to equip a person for success after rehab. Most rehab programs recommend continuing to attend support groups, like 12-step programs, for at least one year following the completion of rehab.
Ongoing support is one of the keys to sustaining the drug-free life after rehab, but even with it, relapse is unfortunately common. Attending support groups and remaining vigilant about avoiding situations that used to trigger substance abuse can help, but ultimately, it’s up to the individual to continue living a drug-free life. It’s critical to be honest about temptations and potential problems, and to seek additional help immediately if a relapse is occurring.
Repair Relationships with Family and Friends
Years of substance abuse takes a toll on relationships. Friends and family likely feel betrayed, especially if the substance abuse was hidden under layers of lies and deception. Although many rehabilitation programs involve close friends and family in the therapy sessions, they can’t undo years of broken relationships. It’s up to the individual to put in the hard work to rebuild trust and create positive relationships going forward.
One of the best ways to repair relationships is to foster an environment of honesty and genuine apologies. Many support programs that people continue in after formal rehab include a component of repairing relationships. Individuals need to be willing to go to the people they have wronged, apologize, and talk about what needs to happen to move forward. Ultimately, family and friends want to have those honest, genuine relationships, so they are often willing to forgive and do their part. However, the recovering drug user also needs to follow through on commitments and remain honest with family and friends after treatment.
Keep a Steady Job
Drug and alcohol abuse takes its toll on a person’s career, and many people entering rehab don’t even have a job to go back to. Those who do have a job may have to take several months off work for detoxification and an intensive course of treatment, and depending on the employer, this may or may not be possible. That’s why many rehabilitation programs include a component of career counseling, and can even help with job placement to get people back on their feet financially. Although this step helps, it’s up to the individual to keep that job after going through addiction recovery.
Some of the most critical job skills include reliability and a strong work ethic. People who arrive at work on time and substance-free, and then follow through in doing their assigned job tasks, should be able to keep a steady job. Rehabilitation emphasizes the importance of these behaviors, but it’s ultimately the job of the individual to follow through in being a hard worker. People who feel a void in their life without drugs may even find it helpful to dive fully into a career, putting tons of extra time and energy into excelling at work to stay busy and drug free.
Protect Environment After Rehab
Particularly when people attend inpatient rehab programs, which specifically control the physical environment during rehab, it’s tough to go back to the patterns of everyday life. When people are going to and from work and other locations, they are bound to encounter triggers that used to lead to substance use. Because of this, people must do their part to avoid physical places that trigger drug use. This may mean renting a different apartment, taking a new route to work, or coming up with specific actions to take when being tempted by particular locations or environments.
In addition to being attentive to the physical environment, recovering drug users need to pay attention to their social environment after rehab. For example, someone whose only friends were the people who got together to use drugs or binge drink should not be spending a lot of time with these people. Because of this, it may be necessary to seek out new groups of friends after rehab. Support groups, neighborhood clubs, and religious organizations are just a few places to look for new friends who can be a positive influence and support the goals of rehab.
Many people turned to drugs in the first place because of stress, and transitioning back into everyday life after completing rehab is certainly a stressful situation. Because of this, recovering drug users need to be ready with tactics to relieve stress. Some of the best methods include getting regular exercise, meditating, getting at least eight hours of sleep each night, getting a cuddly pet, or participating in a new hobby or activity. Continuing to attend individual counseling or therapy sessions also helps people identify stress and work through potential solutions.
Recovery from Substance Abuse is a Long-Term Process
Successful completion of a rehabilitation program starts an individual on a new path, but it’s up to each person to put in the hard work to stay on that path. There isn’t a switch that can turn off cravings for drugs and alcohol or repair past wrongs caused to friends and family during times of substance abuse. That’s why individuals need to be committed to the process, not only during rehab, but also after completing the program.
Recovering substance abusers who remain attentively engaged in the recovery process after rehab have the best chance of success. It’s a mistake to rely on the rehab program as the solution, but instead, people need to see themselves as the solution. Rehab can help people understand themselves and gain new skills and knowledge, but it’s up to them to put these into practice. Success certainly is possible, and it’s critical to keep an eye on this ultimate goal of remaining substance free.