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Preventing Relapse after Rehab

January 21, 2014
When participating in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation programme, the most dangerous phase is leaving. Many believe that that is where the hard work ends, but it is where the work has only just begun. If you lose sight of your goals or slip back into old habits then you run the risk of relapse. True recovery is a life-long process and not a quick fix.

Contrary to what many believe, relapse does not always consist of a former addict having a moment of weakness brought on by a single event. Relapse can occur long before drink or drugs have been taken. The important step is to recognise the warning signs and to not get complacent after leaving a rehab programme. Some of the warning signs that lead to relapse include
  • Thinking that you have the addiction under control and can begin using safely.
  • Boredom
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to cope in stressful situations
  • Missing support meetings

Rehabilitation programmes are not a magic cure and there is a lot of hard work that you will need to do for yourself. Here are some steps you can follow to help remain on a straight path towards sobriety.

Recognise if you have a problem

The warning signs for addiction are usually present long before a recovering addict will start using again. Some of these warning signs have been described above. If you feel that your cravings to start using again are becoming stronger then seek help before it’s too late.

Remember what you have learned

When you complete your alcohol or drug rehabilitation programme, you will not be suddenly cut adrift. Your programme supervisor will give you all the skills and guidance that is needed to continue on your new path. It is essential that you take the advice that you have been given on board and do not assume that you are now “cured”. If you have been advised to attend meetings, make sure that you attend them. If you have been ignoring the advice that has been given to you, it’s important that you start following it before it is too late.

Develop a support network

Surround yourself with family and friends who care about you and want you to get better and support your new lifestyle. It is common for addicts to surround themselves with other users, but this leads to being put in tempting situations where using becomes a lot easier. This needs to be avoided at all costs, even if it means severing contact with those who you used to call friends.

Manage your stress

Often, relapse can be brought on by being in stressful situations. Whilst stress is a part of everyone’s life, when you have difficulty managing it then it becomes a problem. Take the following steps to avoid becoming stressed:
  • Stay organised
  • Stay healthy and get plenty of exercise
  • Find time to relax and enjoy yourself

Get your excuses ready

Often you may find yourself in a social situation where drinking alcohol is the norm. Those who are unaware of any past problems may be a little pushy when offering you’re a drink. When caught off guard, you may find yourself umm-ing and ah-ing and before you know it, there’s a drink in your hand. Have the confidence to say “no”, if needed then don’t be afraid to say that you do not drink, that you are driving or even that you are an alcoholic.
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