One of the most common concerns among addicts is what they will do once they’re done with rehab. Inpatient drug treatment lasts only a few months, but recovery is a lifelong process. Attendees often worry about their ongoing cravings, dealing with their triggers, and avoiding repeated relapses. In order to allay their fears and plan for their futures, people considering drug rehab need to understand what life will be like afterwards.
Once an Addict, Always an Addict?
This phrase is often heard among doctors, laypeople, and even addicts themselves. While it holds some truth, it’s a gross oversimplification of a complicated issue. In a purely physical sense, addiction is indeed an incurable disease. Addicts’ brains undergo permanent changes, and even long-recovered rehab patients will still experience cravings.
However, it’s equally important to consider the psychological components of addiction. People who abuse drugs often suffer from severe mental illnesses, and their lives are usually wrought with hardship and emotional pain. When they address these underlying causes and change their lives accordingly, it becomes much more feasible to avoid further drug use.
Ultimately, it may actually be harmful for addicts to consider their lives “unchangeable” or their conditions “permanent.” Most have much more success when they think of themselves as either “active” or “in recovery.” In doing so, they recognize the difficulties that lie ahead of them – but they don’t give in to despair.
The Reality of Relapse
Most addicts will return to drugs or alcohol at some point in their recoveries. However, relapse is not a failure. If anything, it’s a learning experience – a chance for them to find out what kinds of people, places, and situations they need to avoid to stay clean. Whether an addict has a short slip-up or a long-term return to drug abuse, additional treatment at a drug rehab clinic can help them get back on the right track.
Avoiding New Addictions
One reason why people believe “once an addict, always an addict” is that many drug abusers have addictive personalities. They may be just as likely to get hooked on sex, food, adrenaline, or other stimuli as they are to continue using drugs. For these people, avoiding new obsessions is a key aspect of recovery. Replacing drugs with a new habit only perpetuates addictive behavior patterns, and it can eventually lead to relapse.
The Role of Choice
Most medical professionals now agree that addiction is not a choice. No matter a person’s initial reasons for using drugs, chemical dependency is a truly physiological condition. However, some addicts take this idea too far and attempt to escape any personal responsibility. It may not be possible to avoid cravings altogether, but willpower is definitely an important aspect of recovery. To empower themselves and reduce their chances of relapse, addicts should make the following choices:
- Avoiding active drug users
- Declining social invitations to parties or bars
- Practicing stress management techniques
- Avoiding stress at work and home
- Fostering relationships with positive people
- Finding new places to live and work
- Attending outpatient treatment and support groups
If you’ve been struggling with an addiction, don’t lose hope. Your situation may seem desperate, but inpatient drug treatment can have you back on your feet in no time. Call the number at the top of your screen for a toll-free consultation, and let our dedicated counselors answer all of your questions. You don’t have to suffer alone.