The recovery process for ex-addicts is lifelong. If you’ve gone to rehab, then you know that the process has only just begun. It is also not uncommon for individuals to return to their drug or alcohol use following rehab; in fact, it’s estimated that up to 80% of addicts will relapse at least once before achieving long-term sobriety. While there isn’t one set path to sobriety, most experts agree that there is a critical difference between the addict who recovers and the individual who falls back into their addiction.
Here are a few tips to maintain your sobriety:
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Recognize warning signs
When it comes to addiction, changes in routine and environment can trigger a relapse. It’s important for those who are trying to recover from their illness (and stay sober) that they recognize signs of potential triggers early on; this will help them avoid situations or environments that could be difficult to deal with if under the influence.
For example, an individual who is trying to stay sober may want to avoid hanging out with friends who are heavy drinkers.
Understand the road ahead
Since there isn’t a straight line from rehab back into society, addicts in recovery need to understand that relapse is part of the process. The best thing individuals can do is to avoid the mindset that it’s a “one and done” type of recovery; while relapse can be discouraging, it does not mean that an individual has failed.
Instead of giving up on their efforts, addicts need to get back up and continue moving forward in their recovery process.
Maintain your relationships with friends and family
One of the most difficult parts about addiction is that it can cause a rift between addicts and their friends and family. Substance abuse often leads to bad decision making, which puts significant strain on relationships; this may lead individuals who are attempting to recover from substance use disorder (SUD) to withdraw from people in their lives—a potential trigger in itself.
Instead, addicts need to maintain their relationships with friends and family; this can help them avoid the temptation of using drugs or alcohol again when they are feeling isolated or lonely. While it may be difficult for individuals who have had serious disagreements about substance abuse in the past, these conflicts should not prevent them from maintaining healthy friendships moving forward.
Understand the risks of relapse and how to avoid them
While it is important for addicts in recovery to understand that there may be setbacks or relapses, they need not fear such events; instead, they should be prepared to face these situations with a sense of calmness and understanding. If an individual who has been sober for some time encounters a trigger that leads to substance use, they need to accept it and continue on their path of recovery.
It’s also important for addicts in long-term sobriety to understand what the triggers are when it comes to relapse; this can help them avoid these situations whenever possible. For example, many individuals who have relapsed after long periods of sobriety report that it was triggered by a period of stress or trauma.
Find a support system (and use it).
There are many ways to find an external support group of like-minded people who are trying to stay sober; many communities have support groups for addicts who want to avoid substance use. These individuals meet regularly (either online or in person), which provides an opportunity for them to share their experiences and talk through any issues that come up during recovery.
Many of these individuals also offer connections with therapists, counselors, doctors, and other people who are trained in the addiction recovery process; this can help addicts make connections with others who understand what they’re going through and have been successful at staying sober.
Finding a support system composed of peers or loved ones is not enough. Individuals need to actively use these resources when necessary. For example, if an individual relapses, they should have someone who they can directly relate to in their support network and ask for help.
The pathway to long-term recovery is not an easy one, but it does exist. If you are struggling with addiction and want to stay sober, there are many ways that you can start this journey today. You need to understand the road ahead of you; what your triggers may be in relapse situations; how relationships will change during sobriety; and finally the importance of having a support system both for yourself as well as friends or family members who may have struggled with substance abuse themselves. It’s never too late (or early) to get started on your path towards sobriety, so make sure you’re setting yourself up for success!