How To Establish Consistency in Life After Treatment?

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How To Establish Consistency in Life After Treatment?

Once treatment has been completed, it can be difficult for an individual to maintain long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol. It is very common for some individuals to relapse within the first year after treatment. The adjustment phase transitioning into recovery can be different for everyone. Although an individual often makes major life changes in early recovery, establishing consistency is key to achieving long-term recovery. Following sober living skills and attending a relapse prevention program can significantly improve one’s odds of achieving long-term sobriety. 

The Importance of Establishing Consistency After Treatment

Based on a Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment study, practicing healthy habits and developing a structured routine can help one easily maintain long-term recovery from substance use disorder (SUD). Following a routine can also effectively prevent a relapse or potential overdose. Based on recent research, it was estimated that approximately 85% of individuals with SUD commonly relapse within the first 365 days of early recovery. 

Unexpected events can often interfere with an individual’s structured routine. An individual may benefit from developing a holistic approach for basic balance when faced with a crisis, trauma, or illness. Consuming alcohol and self-medicating with illicit or prescription drugs can worsen one’s condition. Finding complete acceptance and learning new and effective ways to respond to life changes in therapy can help one move forward and stay on track to establishing consistency after treatment. 

Self-Help Strategies to Establish Consistency

It can be challenging to establish consistency in early recovery, as it can be a very vulnerable time for some individuals. This can be due to unwanted substance triggers that may interfere with an individual’s state of mental health. Remembering to use the tools learned in treatment when in a time of need can help one effectively recognize the signs of relapse and appropriately manage them. Taking time to reflect on these positive actions can help one stay motivated while in recovery. Further tips for establishing consistency that may be helpful may include: 

  • Setting meaningful goals
  • Rewarding oneself after each small achievement
  • Correcting mistakes
  • Having patience
  • Trusting in oneself
  • Setting deadlines 
  • Evaluating progress
  • Staying focused with perseverance

When self-help strategies are simply not doing the trick, reaching out for professional help may be a wise decision. Exploring aftercare treatment options can significantly improve an individual’s quality of life.  

How Can Sober Living Skills Help One Establish Consistency

Many individuals feel hesitant to move forward after treatment. This can be for many different reasons. Feelings of hesitancy may be due to a lack of self-esteem or confidence. Some individuals may just not be ready to commit to a sober lifestyle. Sometimes, especially when recovery gets boring, cravings may come to the surface. Therefore, the addiction cycle may rechurn, leading to an interruption in one’s healthy routine. Practicing a good set of sober living skills can help one stay on track after treatment while establishing consistency. A few effective sober living skills that may help increase self-assurance and help one maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol include: 

  • Developing a strong network with like-minded sober individuals 
  • Creating lists to stay on track
  • Partaking in fun sober activities
  • Establishing a consistent routine for balance
  • Practicing self-reflection
  • Starting and ending the evening with gratitude

Different Stages of Relapse

According to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM), relapse is indeed a gradual process. A substance relapse begins either weeks or months before the individual chooses to drink or use drugs again. Relapse prevention can help individuals recognize the signs leading up to a relapse. The three stages of relapse include:

  • Emotional: Although an individual is not thinking about using, their emotions and behaviors are leading them to relapse.
  • Mental: At this stage, the individual is indecisive about using again. Cognitive resistance to relapse begins to decrease.
  • Physical: Lastly, the individual starts using again. 

If an individual is in the mental stage of relapse for a prolonged period without having healthy coping skills on board, they are more likely to misuse drugs or alcohol again. Those who have a history of trauma are also more apt to use substances to cope with turmoil. 

Establishing Consistency With Relapse Prevention

Using sober living skills in combination with relapse prevention strategies has been proven to promote a healthy recovery for many individuals. Based on the aforementioned YJBM study, relapse prevention is the main reason many individuals reach out for addiction treatment. Relapse prevention rehearses certain scenarios and develops a preventative action plan.

In specific terms, there are four main components involved in relapse prevention. It is crucial to understand that relapse is made up of distinct stages. An individual may develop personal growth throughout each milestone that has been met. Relapse prevention is made up of mind-body relaxation and a therapeutic cognitive approach to develop a healthy way of coping. Rules can encourage individuals to focus on the reason behind staying sober. The rules that apply to relapse prevention include: 

  • Making sacrifices and major life changes
  • Staying honest with oneself and others
  • Reaching out for support when needed
  • Revitalizing self-care practices 
  • Do not bend the rules