The disparity between life before treatment and life after rehab can be great. Once chronic drug abuse is halted and the individual has been abstinent for a period of time, both physical and psychological changes will begin to manifest. Although it is common for some residual challenges of addiction to remain; completing the rehabilitation process typically translate into looking, feeling and being better. For some it is literally like being restored to life after death. In fact, recovering addict Ferdinand describes his addiction and recovery experience in these exact terms. “Before I was dead…finally I feel alive” he said in his drug addiction story.
Despite these positive reports, facing daily life after rehab can be challenging for some and downright difficult for others. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to staying clean and sober after rehab is the propensity for relapse. Unfortunately, relapse is inherent in the drug addiction process. That means, cravings may linger and memory triggers can pose a serious threat to sobriety. Although relapse prevention education and training is a part of the recovery process, implementing these learned skills and techniques are essential in a consistent manner in order to stave off temptations to resume drug use. The quality of life after drug addiction treatment depends, to a large degree on the individual’s commitment to sobriety and their knowledge of relapse prevention tools and techniques.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recovery from addiction means halting drug use and adapting new ways of thinking, feeling and dealing with problems. Studies however indicate that anyone can experience a relapse after completing the rehab process. As such, it is key for people in recovery to understand that vigilance to abstinence is critical especially in the first days, weeks and months following treatment. This is the period in which people are most vulnerable to a relapse. Based on research outcomes, people who are able to sustain their sobriety between three and five years after rehab are less likely to relapse in the future. The truth is, relapse is a highly personal experience which occurs based on a number of variables such as:
According to experts, those individuals with strong support systems who are serious about staying sober greatly increase their chances of experiencing long term sobriety. It is most often those who are not adequately supported in recovery that end up returning to their addiction. As NIDA scientists explain, life after rehab is a return to normalcy. It is freedom from the obsessive seeking and compulsive using of drugs or alcohol. Rebecca’s story is a perfect example of how good life after rehab can be. She recalls that before treatment, her husband Todd was always in various stages of drunkenness when he was home on the weekends. The drinking would continue until he eventually passed out. Rebecca is happy to report that today, she has a normal life complete with nature walks on the weekends and visits to the farmer’s market with Todd who has been in recovery now for three years. “This was the life I had dreamed of before, when I was living with an abyss of sadness and wretched alcoholism” Rebecca said.
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