What Can You Do After Treatment to Ensure Long-Term Sobriety?

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After Drug Rehabilitation: Steps to Ensure Long-term Sobriety

For the countless number of addicts who are seeking recovery, commitment to a drug rehabilitation facility gives them the best chance for long-term sobriety. Drug rehabilitation and adult/adolescent treatment centers provide the recovering addict with specific counseling and therapeutic programs that target the underlying mechanisms of their addiction while providing the necessary support and life skills training needed to adapt to the outside world. The time spent in these types of treatment programs is a time of both profound learning and concentrated work.

However, the time spent in a drug treatment facility is not indefinite. Most programs last only a few months and after that time has expired, the recovering individual is expected to re-enter the regular world. While the regular world may not have changed, the person in recovery has changed and the prospect of facing this world sober can provide a formidable challenge. There are several steps that the recovering addict can take to make their recovery in the real world less stressful.

Finding Sober Friends and Support Groups

Peer influence and pressure not only can exert a major influence on drug use but also on abstaining from drugs. Finding fellowship and friendship in a twelve-step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or another similar group can provide the recovering person with a solid grounding. Being able to find common ground with those peers who share similar backgrounds and stories in regards to substance abuse can be an invaluable resource and a place of strength for the recovering individual.

Support groups such as AA and NA are also an essential part of the recovery and should not be overlooked. Support groups can be viewed as a network of people who have dealt with addiction issues and are continuing to deal with addiction issues in their day-to-day lives. Meetings can provide inspiration to the recovering addict and allow people to share freely and candidly with other people in recovery.

Halfway Houses and ¾ Houses

An option for those leaving the safety and shelter of drug treatment, entrance into a therapeutic community (halfway or three-quarter house) can provide a safer transition back into the real world. These types of housing are drug-free residential settings that are comprised of treatment staff and those who are in recovery. People that live in halfway houses and three-quarter houses interact with each other in both structured and unstructured ways in order to reinforce healthy attitudes and perceptions regarding recovery.

The basic difference between halfway house and three-quarter houses is in terms of structure. A halfway house would be seen as the next step for the recovering addict who is leaving drug treatment (if he or she so chooses this option). In comparison to a three-quarter house, halfway houses has stricter guidelines regarding curfews, employment and attending school among other factors.


danger thin ice sign - relapse

Watching for Signs of Relapse and Re-Evaluating Living Situations

Those who are in recovery need to be alert for possible indicators of relapse. For some there can be feelings of guilt and shame if thoughts of using start to creep back into their minds. For others, early recovery can bring thoughts of invincibility which can also be a trigger. Going back to their old neighborhoods can also be potential relapse triggers with respect to bars, using friends and other places such as street corners and parks where past using experiences took place.

Moving to a new neighborhood may provide a new backdrop for the newly recovering person to explore their new way of life. Leaning on trusted family or friends may also be invaluable in these situations. If thoughts of using or other trigger situations present themselves, being proactive is key: Attending meetings, contacting sponsors or other recovering people.

Continuing Therapy and Aftercare

Utilizing therapy after formal treatment as ended can help the recovering person handle relapse triggers, strengthen their skills and set future goals. The frequency of aftercare can be lessened as the recovering addict integrates more with the regular world. While life can be hectic with responsibilities to both the individual and to others, long-term sobriety can hinge on continuing care after rehabilitation in order to reinforce those life skills.

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  • Our daughter was at Palm Beach Institute in 2010 and it was great that you started her in AA. She will be 3 years sober in January and attends AA almost every day. They are her community. She has sponsored several people and works the steps and is totally immersed in the 12 Step Program. Thank you for all you do.

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