Working Toward a Successful Recovery From Addiction
Even with all of the right tools in place, individuals with addiction often find themselves relapsing soon after completing a treatment program for substance abuse. Relapse is a common occurrence, and those attempting to cease using drugs or alcohol can become discouraged as they find themselves in a seemingly endless cycle of recovery and relapse.
Some patients are unable to finish treatment. The symptoms of withdrawal can be agonizing. Physical pain, headaches and nausea can drive an individual to thoughts of ending the pain by returning to the drug. In addition, cravings can be so intense that patients may give up hope and leave treatment in search of the drug.
There are steps that can be taken to maximize the chances that treatment will be successful. An article featured in National Geographic: DRUGGED provides helpful tips for successful recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. The author cautions that when treatment does not result in cessation of use, the patient must not look at the experience as a failure or a problem with willpower. Addiction is a disease, not a result of a lack of effort.
While there is no cure for addiction, management of addiction disorders can be possible. Choosing the right type of treatment, whether in- or outpatient is the first step as stated in the article; making the recovery the top priority is an important part of success.
There are benefits to both outpatient recovery and inpatient programs. Outpatient programs can allow recovery to occur without missing work or other commitments, and patients get real-life practice with tools learned in therapy sessions while they are recovering. However, inpatient programs offer a high level of support and help the patient to fully focus on recovery.
Patients should also look at recovery as a one-day-at-a-time process, not allowing past behaviors or anticipation of old habits reoccurring to cast negativity over progress made. Therapists often work with recovering addicts to learn techniques to battle negative beliefs and feelings that lead to relapse.
A solid support system is important for recovery. Communicating to friends and family about the difficulties that can occur during treatment can allow supporters to anticipate and navigate challenges with the patient. Communication is also important with therapists, so that they can help the patient respond to cravings and other stimuli that may lead to a relapse.
The article also encourages the patient to change much about their lives to match the level of change they want to see in their behavior patterns. For instance, a new environment, featuring new activities, friends and experiences can help a patient begin anew with positive surroundings.
Particularly, patients are encouraged to consider their friendships and identify those that facilitate addiction, rather than helping with recovery. Friends that may jeopardize a recovery should be avoided. The author suggests that the right friends will help ensure that recovery is successful.
Keeping busy is another focus, including advice to exercise and work, either for pay or in a volunteer capacity. Again, these types of activities contribute to a positive, healthy environment and boost mental health.
Improving nutrition is another way to combat the cravings that can lead to a relapse. Choosing to eat better can improve both physical and mental health and offer another area in which a patient can promote their own health and remain positive.
Patients are encouraged to not give in to any obstacles to recovery and allow support from friends and family to steer them in healthy directions when temptations and cravings seem insurmountable. Joining a support group through a church, an AA group or another social support network can also provide a safety net when temptation becomes difficult.