The twists and turns of addiction recovery can leave you feeling lost at times. Straying off the path, whether that is due to leaving treatment prematurely or experiencing a relapse after treatment, does not mean it is the end of the road. You can always find your way back to recovery with the appropriate mindset and support.
Giving Treatment Another Try
If you have previously started treatment and left the program without completing it, you might question whether returning would help. There are many reasons why people choose to leave treatment early. It might feel like treatment isn’t working early on because you are not feeling better yet. Or it might feel like it is no longer necessary because you actually are feeling better. This can lead to confidence that you can maintain this without additional support.
Treatment might be uncomfortable and challenging, leading you to decide at the moment that escaping that discomfort is preferable over continuing. It is possible that the obligations and responsibilities at home are calling you back.
No matter the reason, sometimes treatment doesn’t go as planned. This does not mean that your chance is lost, however. It is never too late to commit to treatment and re-engage with recovery, even if you have taken a detour.
Seeking Treatment After a Relapse
A relapse is not a sign of failure. It is, however, a sign that you may need additional support in your recovery. You can bounce back from a relapse and find your way back to recovery with the appropriate tools. Even if you have been through treatment before, re-engaging with services might be necessary. Recovery is a process and does not simply mean checking treatment off your to-do list. Going through treatment does not ensure that your recovery will continue without a single snag.
This doesn’t mean that treatment doesn’t work. Addiction is a chronic condition and requires careful management. When people undergo treatment for other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, a current approach to treatment might eventually run its course. Sometimes all that is needed is an adjustment to put someone back on the road to health.
Similarly, you can get something new out of seeking services again. When you first went through a treatment program, you unlearned unhealthy coping strategies that kept you rooted firmly in your addiction. You identified patterns and triggers and developed skills to intervene.
Imagining treatment as building a toolkit can be helpful. You entered the program with an empty toolbox and left with a new set of tools. While you learned how to use these tools with the help of your treatment team, it takes continued practice to gain mastery over them, and you cannot expect to be perfect at using them every time.
These tools can also become worn down and rusty, which can lead to them needing to be replaced. Additionally, you might encounter novel situations that necessitate you to acquire new tools. Returning to treatment can help you refresh skills you have learned before while addressing new issues that have arisen.
Maintaining Long-Term Recovery
Many factors can lead to a relapse. Significant stressors can create pressure to return to drugs and alcohol. Substances are often used as a way to cope with negative emotions and experiences. This makes it likely that the temptation to use during challenging times can pop up. Part of treatment is developing effective and healthy coping skills, but it is not possible to account for every possibility and plan accordingly. These novel situations can cause an individual to entertain the idea of utilizing substances to cope with this stress.
Tips to Reinforce Recovery
One way to reinforce effective coping strategies and learn to navigate novel and stressful situations without defaulting to substances is by seeking out role models in recovery. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings can provide community and guidance during this time as you seek to maintain your recovery. You will have the opportunity to learn from individuals who have been living fulfilling lives in recovery and are willing to share what has worked for them. In this setting, you can share the situations you are enduring and find new perspectives on how to cope in a healthy manner.
Furthermore, being exposed to people who are living well in recovery can provide a clear image of what is possible when you focus on your recovery goals. The relationships forged in these recovery communities also demonstrate that you are not alone in this journey, even when it feels especially challenging and isolating.
Relapse becomes more likely when a person is not taking adequate care of their mental or physical health. Allowing the basics like fitness, nutrition, and sleep to fall by the wayside can lead to a decreased ability to resist triggers and urges. Additionally, not appropriately addressing other mental health concerns like anxiety and depression can exacerbate the emotions and thought patterns that underlie substance abuse.
You can protect against these risks to your recovery by taking the time to get adequate rest, engaging in regular exercise, and maintaining healthy eating habits. Keeping up with therapy and other supportive services for your overall mental health will provide a buffer against relapse as well.
A crucial element of sustained recovery is positive social support. The people you surround yourself with will influence you. When this influence is positive, you can use it to your benefit. Having people who will support you by celebrating your victories and staying by your side during hardship makes it easier to navigate the peaks and valleys of recovery.
Furthermore, having the right people in your life can help you foster an environment conducive to sobriety where substance-free gatherings are not just tolerated but actually accepted and encouraged. This can reduce the risk posed by exposure to triggers while still allowing for social connection.
It is never too late to recover. Each person’s journey is unique and carries with it its own set of challenges. While some people may only need to attend treatment briefly, other people may need more intensive support. Some people will make it through treatment from admission to discharge in a linear fashion, while others will find their experience to involve more starting and stopping. While certain individuals will never experience a relapse, others will be confronted with relapse multiple times. Despite the ups and downs, recovery is always worth it, and Family-Centered Services can help you stay on the right path. You can learn about our comprehensive services by calling us at (509) 991-5822 today.