In case you have an addiction and you want to get rid of it, going to rehab is likely the first thing you have in mind. The rehab process is often lengthy and comprises many different kinds of treatments. Also, it can cost you a huge sum of money.
You could be wondering if addiction treatment is 100% effective. After rehab is complete, will you walk away as a brand-new person? Will all influence of drugs be gone forever? Is rehab your one-way ticket back to normal life?
Before you set your expectations too high, let’s look at the facts.
Relapse is real
Based on statistics from drug and alcohol rehab centers, 50% to 90% of patients experience relapse after their recovery programs. In other words, as many as 9 out of 10 people go back to their old drug habits after rehab.
That’s a really scary statistic. It could even make you question if rehab is worth the time and effort at all. You could even go so far as using these numbers to justify continuing your addiction.
But there is something behind the numbers that you need to see.
Why is it possible for you to relapse?
To understand why relapse happens, let’s compare your home to a rehab center. At home, it’s a familiar, comfortable place. You’re free to do anything, and the people you live with could be letting you mind your own business.
But in a rehab center, people watch out for you, and your activities are tightly controlled. You can’t just do anything you want, unlike at home. This is a big thing that helps you stay on the path to a drug-free lifestyle.
Let’s say you were in an inpatient alcohol rehab program that lasted for one month. Once you’re done with it, the rehab center sends you back home. You’re back again to your familiar, comfortable space.
As you open the door and walk into the house, the first thing you see is a bottle of Jack on the table. The temptation to go back to alcohol is there again.
As you keep seeing the bottle, the urge to take a shot becomes stronger and stronger each time. Eventually, you’ll give in and take the shot.
Before you know it, you are back to your old drinking habit. That’s one month of rehab down the drain, and all it took was that one bottle.
That’s exactly why people relapse: they see familiar things at home that remind them of their addictions. With that, properly transitioning from rehab center to home is key.
Aftercare is important
While rehab is generally effective in training you to adopt a drug-free lifestyle, you need aftercare to keep yourself clean. Don’t be overconfident that after your rehab is over, your addiction problems are gone too.
Instead, recognize that you could still be tempted to go back to your old ways. Knowing this, you need to take extra steps to make sure you continue being sober.
What options do you have for aftercare?
After your time in the rehab center is over, find one of these aftercare options:
- 12-step groups: These are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and others. They are called as such because of the 12-step program that members go through to manage their addictions. Members are encouraged to attend meetings regularly for life, but if you’re new, they can start you off with 90 meetings in 90 days.
- Other support groups: If you’re not comfortable with the spiritual components of 12-step groups, you can join other support groups like Rational Recovery.
- Booster sessions: Some rehab centers offer these so-called booster sessions a few months after the rehab program has ended. In these sessions, you’re debriefed about your recovery process. They also teach you new coping skills and renew your motivation to stay clean. All of these aim to reduce your risk of relapse.
- Counseling sessions: Here, you’ll talk to a counselor about any problems you encountered after rehab.
- Dual diagnosis support: In case you have a mental health problem associated with your addiction, this kind of aftercare is very helpful. Otherwise, if that mental health problem is left untreated, it could do a lot to cause a relapse.
Change your environment
Besides aftercare, you have to make the necessary changes to avoid going back to your addictive behaviors. For example, if you used to be addicted to alcohol, ask your family to remove all traces of alcoholic drinks from the home. That means bottles of liquor, shot glasses, cans of beer, and anything that might remind you of drinking.
Also, you need to avoid hanging out with old friends who abuse substances. Being with the wrong crowd almost guarantees that you would relapse. So, take a hard pass on your drinking buddies.
Instead, build stronger relationships with those you’ve met in rehab. As you are on the same journey to sobriety, you can push each other forward in the path to a new life. You can also share success stories, best practices, and even frustrations as you go along. With this kind of community, you have much better chances of staying clean for long.
One more thing: make sure not to obsess over something else entirely. For example, if you’ve walked away from drinking but you’re working all day and all night, that’s also not healthy. You could end up becoming a workaholic instead. In other words, you’ve just substituted one addiction for another.
Recognize your relapse triggers
Once you’re out of rehab and back into the real world, always keep the acronym HALT in mind. HALT gives you four situations that would tempt you to go back to drugs. These are times when you are:
Aside from knowing when you feel these emotions, it’s also crucial to develop proper coping strategies that do not involve addictive substances. Instead, you could resort to healthy hobbies like sports, cooking, reading, or art.