The journey to sobriety does not end when your time in rehab has come to an end. Because addiction is a lifelong disease, you need to plan for the future, not just focus on getting sober in the present. A good rehab facility will start to think about your long-term sobriety strategy from the moment they first meet you. By the time you leave, they will be able to provide you with resources that will help you achieve sobriety that will last for the rest of your life.
Relapse: The Challenges of Sobriety
Addiction is a chronic illness that can only be controlled through total sobriety. If you use just a small amount of the substance, you can reignite the chemical processes that led to the addiction.
Even if you put forth your best effort, the spectre of relapse looms large. Most chronic diseases have a high relapse rate – someone who has suffered from asthma, for instance, is likely to experience it again. The odds are stacked against newly recovered addicts: about two thirds of those who have been sober for less than a year are likely to relapse. If you relapse, you have experienced a natural and predictable outcome of a chronic illness. There is no need to blame yourself. The right continuing care strategy, however, can dramatically reduce your risk of relapsing. There is more good news: as your length of sobriety gets longer, your risk of relapse gets progressively lower.
What is Continuing Care?
Continuing care, as the name suggests, is care you continue with after you finish rehab. The goal of continuing care is not to be an all-encompassing treatment for addiction, but rather to provide the support you need to remain sober for the rest of your life. A good rehab facility will help you find a continuing care strategy that fits into the rest of your life and that suits your values.
Some of the most popular continuing care options include the following:
- 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Some addicts continue attending these programs even decades after they achieve sobriety.
- Therapy to address the issues that led to your addiction.
- Support groups based in your religious tradition.
- Family therapy to address the conflicts your addiction has caused within your family.
Long-Term Sobriety Strategies
Rehab programs are no miracle cures that can stop an addict from using drugs or alcohol. Instead, it is up to the individual to find strategies that can help manage the challenges of the addiction. Most addicts find that things get easier over time, and many report that their cravings completely disappear within a year or so. Developing a healthy lifestyle is a key component of continuing care. The following strategies may help you stay sober after your rehab program has ended:
- Adopting a new hobby
- Making new friends, and steering clear of people who used drugs and alcohol with you in the past
- Avoiding places and activities you associate with drug or alcohol use
- A healthy diet
- Spending time with loved ones
- Making amends to those whom your addiction has hurt
Addiction is not a choice, but the choices you make will affect your ability to remain sober for the rest of your life. Toronto Addiction Centres will refer you to a rehab program that will continue to work with you in the long-term, to help you protect the sobriety you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Nutrition & Wellness Program
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Alcoholics Anonymous – Find a Meeting
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