Aftercare Support and Relapse Prevention

While you are on the road to recovery after having struggled with substance abuse and addiction, it is recommended that you seek aftercare support and relapse prevention. Irrespective of the treatment approach that you choose, a solid support system and positive influences in your life are essential. This is because the greater the number of people that you can turn to for guidance, encouragement, and a listening ear, the better your chances will be for long term recovery.

Some of the aftercare support and relapse prevention tips that you can count on include but are not always limited to:

a) Build a Social Network

It is important that you consider building a new social network comprised of people who are sober from drugs and alcohol. If your social life previously revolved around substances of abuse, it might be time for you to try and make other new connections.

It is recommended that you have a sober support network comprised of people who do not use intoxicating substances that you can rely on as you look for support in your recovery journey. A good way to do this would be a volunteer, attend events in the local community, join a civic group or church, and take a class.

b) Sober Living Home

You should also think about moving into a transitional or sober living home. These transitional living facilities will provide you with a safe and supportive place to live as you work on recovering from your substance abuse and addiction. They can also prove useful if you do not have a drug-free living environment or stable home.

c) Rely on Family and Friends

The support of your family members and friends can also be invaluable as you work your way towards long term recovery. In case you are still reluctant to turn to loved ones due to the fact that they may have let you down before or you have let them down in the past, you should consider family therapy and relationship counseling to mend the broken fences.

d) Attend Recovery Meetings

It is also essential that you make support group meetings a priority in your life. If you have not already, consider joining recovery support groups like AA and NA and ensure that you attend the group meetings on a regular basis.

When you spend time with others who understand what you have been going through, it might be possible for you to find healing. Additionally, the shared experiences from the other group members could also prove beneficial even as you learn the steps that others have been taking to maintain their sobriety.

e) Learn Stress Management

It would also be in your best interests to learn healthy ways to deal with and cope with stressful situations. After you have addressed the immediate problems involving addiction and you have started treatment, you may still encounter various problems that used to cause you to turn to drugs and alcohol.

These could involve the fact that you were using drugs to numb painful emotions, unwind after having had a bad day, trying to forget your problems, or even calming yourself during and after an argument.

When you get started on the road to sobriety, the negative feelings and emotions that you tried to dampen with drugs and alcohol might still resurface. To ensure that your treatment is successful, you should resolve these underlying issues.

Even after resolving them, you may still experience hopelessness, anxiety, shame, anger, frustration, loneliness, and stress. All these emotions are normal in life. As such, you should find healthier ways to address them as they come up.

Luckily, there are different stress relief strategies that could prove useful. Since they all work different for different people, it is important that you find the ones that are most effective for your particular situation. Examples include:

  • Experimenting with the sense of smell, such as the scent of flowers or coffee beans
  • Movement, such as taking a walk
  • Pampering yourself with tea, massage, hot showers, and so on
  • Picturing peaceful places and emotions with the eyes closed
  • Playing with pets

f) Controlling Drug Cravings and Triggers

Just because you are sober does not necessarily mean that you have recovered completely. Your brain will still need some time to rebuild the connections that were changing during your addiction even as it recovers from your substance abuse.

As you go through this rebuild, it is possible that you may experience intense drug and alcohol cravings. An effective relapse prevention strategy involves avoiding the situations, places, and people that cause you to experience triggers to your urges to turn to drugs again. Other strategies that you can adopt include:

  • Avoiding clubs, bars, liquor stores, and anywhere else where you may be able to access alcohol
  • Being cautious while taking prescription medications
  • Changing and challenging your thoughts
  • Distracting yourself by watching a movie, immersing yourself in hobbies and physical activity, see friends, and read
  • Keeping away from people who take drugs and drink alcohol excessively
  • Talking about your history of substance abuse and addiction when you seek medical treatment since there are other drugs - including prescription and over the counter medications that could cause you to suffer a relapse
  • Talking through the problem with family members and friends, especially when you are feeling cravings for drugs and alcohol
  • Urge surfing by toughing the drug use cravings out until they pass

g) Build a Drug-Free Lifestyle

It is also possible to protect yourself as well as support your drug free lifestyle by finding other activities that ensure you do not suffer a relapse. This involves having interests that can add more meaning and purpose to your life.

The important thing is to ensure that you find activities that you actually enjoy, that add meaning to your daily life, and that make you feel needed. By involving yourself in things like this, you will have a sense of purpose and rewarding activities to take up your time. As a result, this could make your drug cravings and potentially reignited addiction lose its overall appeal.

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