Recovering from an addiction disorder is a long process – often a lifelong one. Many experts regard addiction as something that can’t be cured; rather, it is considered to be a mental illness or chronic brain disease. It can, however, be effectively managed on a lifelong basis. Those who suffer from it can learn how to cope with triggers and focus on building a life free of intoxicants.
Aftercare refers to all work done by an individual with an addiction disorder after a rehabilitation program has been completed that’s meant to keep that person on the path to recovery. Addiction recovery doesn’t end with rehab. It’s a continuous process of building a life in which intoxicants are not needed to get through each day. This is evidenced by the fact that so many recovering individuals suffer at least one relapse – 40 percent to 60 percent, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association – that some addiction experts consider to be just part of the recovery process.
Any drug rehabilitation program should include workshops that teach coping skills to be applied once the program is over. These are meant to address not only craving triggers and temptation, but also common and individual life stressors that can lead to substance abuse in the first place. People with addiction disorders often need to replace destructive coping mechanisms, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, with healthy ones.
Healthy Coping Skills
People aren’t often taught healthy coping mechanisms in school, and parents may not be available to do so or might not have been taught these mechanisms themselves. When this is combined with serious stress from financial troubles, mental illness, abuse, and other common issues, people turn to whatever they can to cope. Unfortunately, in some communities, drugs are readily available, and alcohol is available in most places.
Part of recovering from addiction is learning better coping skills than abusing drugs or alcohol. Any treatment program should include both counseling and various workshops designed to steer addicted individuals toward coping tactics that work for a variety of different personalities and situations. These can include simple positive thoughts, minor distractions, new hobbies, and healthy life habits.
- Healthy eating
- Avoiding common triggers, such as hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness (HALT)
- Attending therapy
- Going to support group meetings
- Maintaining healthy relationships
- Practicing relaxation and stress management techniques
- Practicing mindfulness meditation
- Keeping a journal
- Becoming a sponsor for other addicted individuals