What’s It like to Be in Recovery for the Long-Term?

Seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is a chance to get a fresh start and to begin purposefully rebuilding your life. It is often a time of tremendous hope. Unfortunately, many people entering rehab are under the mistaken impression that once their programs are complete, their addictions will be over. This is a very common and incredibly unrealistic expectation. Addiction recovery is actually a lifelong process that merely starts with detox. People who are successful in recovery maintain long-term, ongoing plans for avoiding both relapse and common relapse triggers.

The good news is that recovery becomes increasingly easier as you move forward. During the initial stages of recovery, you may spend days or even weeks contending with the uncomfortable symptoms of physical withdrawal. Once these have passed, you’ll likely spend one to two years battling post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These are the psychological symptoms that present as your brain gradually heals from the damages and chemical imbalance that drug or alcohol abuse have caused. After both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms have passed, you’ll still need a strong support system to help you get through. For many recovering addicts, times of high stress and long periods of isolation can cause cravings and temptation to set in. Although you’ll have learned new and more sustainable ways of coping with life’s challenges, the risk of relapsing will still exist.

Feeling Accomplished Without Becoming Over-Confident

Successfully completing detox and finishing your time in an inpatient or outpatient rehab is definitely worth celebrating. However, these should still be seen as merely the first steps in your recovery journey. After all, the risk of relapse is highest throughout the first several years of recovery. Some people continue experiencing sporadic psychological withdrawal symptoms for up to 24 months. If you become too confident in your success, temptations and cravings could catch you by surprise.

To limit the likelihood of relapse, people are advised to establish needs-specific plans for following up their initial inpatient or outpatient treatment. These plans can include staying in a sober living home, taking part in a relapse prevention program, or even following inpatient treatment with several months using outpatient services. For those who need less support, joining local support groups, attending sober meetings, or even having an accountability partner or sober sponsor may suffice. Ultimately, the more long-term support services you use; the lower the your risk of relapse will invariably become.

Relapse Is a Common and Often Expected Part of the Recovery Process

There are several important things to know about relapse in recovery. The first of these is that relapse doesn’t actually start with drug or alcohol use. Like addiction itself, relapse occurs in several phases. People are in the early stages of relapse when they:

  • Stop attending sober meetings or using other support services
  • Discontinue regular self-care
  • Begin spending large amounts of time in isolation
  • Start frequenting high-risk environments or reconnecting with high-risk friends

Relapse doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t have to mean the end of your recovery. The best way to put a single-use relapse event to an immediate stop is by reconnecting with professional support services. Many recovering addicts are surprised to discover that both treatment professionals and their peers are entirely non-judgmental. Relapse is actually a very common and even expected part of getting well. When patients respond to the early signs of relapse in the right way, these experiences can help them better shape their long-term support plans to address any gaps or other areas of unknown vulnerability.

<h2>Is a Sober Living Home the Right Choice for You?</h2>
Sober living homes are an excellent bridge between inpatient or outpatient treatment and the return to normal, independent living. These facilities have strict sets of rules that residents must adhere to such as:

  • Total abstinence from drug and alcohol use
  • Adherence to house curfews
  • Mandatory participation in long-term life planning activities

Staying in these facilities allows people to enjoy increasing freedom while still getting much of the guidance and structure that professional addiction treatment provides. Sober living homes are also staffed by professionals who can help residents find the right resources for:

  • Overcoming barriers to long-term housing
  • Establishing stable jobs
  • Dealing with pressing legal issues

and more.

The Elements of a Successful Long-Term Support Plan

Successful addiction treatment can look quite different from one person to the next. Some people fare well in inpatient programs and others do well with the greater freedom and flexibility that outpatient rehab provides. This is also true for individual long-term recovery plans. When going to rehab, you’ll have the opportunity to work with addiction counselors who can help you find the right combination of long-term support services for your needs. If you’re tired of being addicted to drugs or alcohol and are ready to begin your recovery journey, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us now by calling 614-705-0611 to learn more about the many treatment options that are currently available.