You’ve been through a rehab program and now you are re-entering mainstream society. Anxious thoughts race through your mind as you try to imagine how your life will be now. You want to remain free from alcohol but you know there is always a chance of relapse. There are several things you can do to help insure abstinence from drugs and alcohol.
1. Find and stay in aftercare. When you maintain a long and intense commitment to aftercare therapy, you will discover the support you need to stay sober. Aftercare will help keep you focused and it will help keep you grounded. One of the most accurate predictors of relapse is overconfidence and a minimization of aftercare. Those that are realistic and seek aftercare therapy have the greatest success rate of sobriety.
2. Keep busy. You have decided not to hang around the people that you hung out with before you went to treatment because you do not want to be around drugs and alcohol. This is a great step but it could leave you feeling lonely. Call your support group (us, trusted friends, etc.) when you feel that you want to drink out of boredom, restlessness or loneliness. Many former alcoholics do not know how to spend their time without drinking. Making new friends and picking up new, safe hobbies can help pass the time as you adjust to a clean life. Also, finding employment can help keep you busy, and it will help with feelings of self-worth as you make wise decisions.
3. Take care of yourself. There are many things that can trigger a craving. Being hungry, angry, lonely or tired can induce a craving that you might not be expecting. Taking care of your body and soul will help preempt risks. Eating right, getting enough sleep and keeping a list of clean, trusted friends can help you take care of yourself.
4. Follow your relapse prevention training. You worked very hard on this while you were in treatment and you have mentally prepared for many different situations that might lead to relapse. Use your new knowledge diligently the first year, and you will find that it will help you out of many situations. Former alcoholics who ignore the new knowledge and skills and ignore the triggers and situations that may bring about relapse are asking for trouble. Your knowledge of Relapse Awareness is an important key to recovery, and it should be followed explicitly.
5. If you slip and drink again, don’t fall back into full-blown abuse. Relapse can happen to even the most diligent of those recovering. Staying clean can be a life-long commitment and program of action; and if a relapse does occur, do not come down so hard on yourself that you accept defeat. Feelings of regret are powerful, but you must not fall back into destructive habits. If you do slip, call us and discuss why you used, what the triggers were and how you are feeling.
6. Listen to the suggestions from us. We specialize in teaching alcoholics how to live without alcohol. We have vast amount of knowledge and guidance based upon what has worked for clients and what has not worked. Be mindful of what we say and take it to heart. We want you to stay clean after leaving treatment, and we offer tangible, good advice.
7. Talk to your family. Open communication with family, is an effective way of ensuring that you make healthy choices after treatment. Let your family know how you are feeling. Maybe you are bored or lonely or stressed. All feelings, including the good ones, can trigger a relapse. By talking with your family, you are not only developing this relationship but with support from them, you will make sound, healthier decisions.
8. Develop a support network and safety net. As soon as you leave treatment, you should begin to participate in your aftercare program. Aftercare, and programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous(NA), can help you deal with and resist temptation. You will begin to learn from your own mistakes and from the mistakes of others as well. If you attend AA or NA, you will most likely get a sponsor whom you are to call whenever you find yourself in a situation that tempts you. This network will be there to help catch you when you stumble or fall. You will discover that you are stronger than you think.
9. If you are in school, go and speak to your advisor. There are most likely other students that have been to treatment, and getting in touch with these students can help you to meet new, clean peers. Your old friends maybe still using and you do not want to be around people like that. Making new friends will help you to discover a new and clean life.
10. Use the techniques you learned in treatment. You will have learned skills for dealing with peer pressure and triggers while you were in treatment. Use these and any other skills you learned to help you when you end up in situations that are tempting. You have practiced, and now you need to do what is best for you. If you feel that you need more help with coping, call us or your aftercare counselor.
Rehab is not a quick fix because recovery takes time. Seeking and being dedicated to aftercare therapy is one of the best things you can do to remain clean. Talking to family and developing a support system will also help with your journey. No single suggestion can insure you will always stay clean, but an individualized mix of the suggestions plus what you have learned from treatment can give you valuable tools for a great life.
Remember, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”
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