How To Make Sobriety Sustainable?

Diverse people in a support group session

How To Make Sobriety Sustainable?

Recovery is a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. Completing treatment at a facility will not magically cure you of your substance use disorder (SUD). Post-treatment, you will sometimes struggle with cravings and be tempted to revisit negative behavioral patterns. However, completing treatment will give you the tools to resist substances and negative behaviors and reduce other substance use symptoms. 

Putting those skills to use under real-world pressures will be different from practicing them in a treatment facility’s safe, non-judgemental, stress-free space. When you re-enter the real world, your skills will be tested. You’ll have good days and bad ones, but you’ll also be able to create a life for yourself full of love, laughter, and new adventures. 

There are several steps you can take post-treatment to continue down the path of a successful recovery. 

Continue With Treatment

The best way to prevent relapse after an intensive substance use treatment program is to continue with other types of treatment. This would likely be in the form of outpatient programs, which could include both individualized and group therapy. Continuing with treatment will help you further explore your emotional journey and learn and relearn new and old coping mechanisms. 

It might take you a few tries before you find a therapist that can meet your needs. Before you begin your search, think about the type of therapy you want and what areas of your life you want to focus on. For instance, you might search for a therapist that specializes in substance use and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a therapist who specializes in borderline personality disorder and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), depending on your needs. If you are overwhelmed by the therapist search, you can get recommendations for therapists from your insurance, peers, or trusted mental health professionals.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Post-recovery, it’s important to practice the skills and tools you learn during your treatment. You’ll have to use these skills when you’re faced with an uncomfortable, trauma triggering, or stressful situation. The more you practice these skills, the easier they’ll be to use when you need them. While these skills are useful in distressing situations, they can also be useful in your daily life. By practicing these tools regularly, you can create a more positive perspective for yourself. Some emotional management tools you might practice are cognitive awareness, gratitude, grounding, and mindfulness.

Many emotional management tools you can practice through meditation. Meditation can be self-guided or guided by an instructor. Utilizing an online video or app to guide your meditation might make it easier for you to sink deeper into thought. However, a self-guided meditation gives you more freedom to concentrate on the emotional barriers you want to work on. Journaling can also help you sort through your feelings. You can release anxious or frustrating thoughts on paper so that they will no longer bounce around in your head, leaving room for other more productive or positive thoughts.

Habitual Routine and Daily Habits

When you are involved in intensive treatment, your whole day is dedicated to emotional healing and working on your sobriety. Once you complete an intensive treatment program, you’ll have time on your hands that you’ll have to figure out what to do with. This can be stressful, and stress can cause you to mismanage your emotions and possibly relapse. The best way to prevent this is to create a routine for yourself. Planning out a routine is the best way to form healthy habits. Once something becomes habitual, it will be effortless to incorporate it into your life. 

Your routine can include exercising, lunch and dinner plans, time for self-care, time to spend with friends, and time to practice a particular skill. You might have to try out a few different routines before finding one that works for you. Some people might prefer stricter routines, while others may want the flexibility to add more or subtract less from their schedule. The only way to find out what routine works best for you is through trial and error.

Staying Connected

To have a successful recovery, you will need support from your peers. During intensive treatment, you are regularly surrounded by people who have similar struggles to you. Once you complete treatment, you will have to seek out peers to find that same support. You can do this by joining a 12-Step program or other types of support groups. Many programs also provide online support groups if attending a group in-person is impractical. 

Even with these support groups, it might be helpful to stay in touch with the friends you make during treatment. The people you connect with during treatment will already know your story, and you’ll already know theirs. This will allow you to better support one another.