To overcome an alcohol problem, most people will need to complete a three-step recovery process that includes a detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare. While it is certainly possible to overcome an addiction without help, most find that they do not have the strength to stay substance-free without help. The first step on the road to recovery is a detox programme, which aims to break the physical addiction to alcohol; this is followed by treatment in either an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility. But what happens after alcohol rehab? Will you be left to fend for yourself?
The Importance of Aftercare
Most people are aware of what happens during detox and rehab programmes, but they are unaware of what happens after alcohol rehab. They worry that they will be unable to cope with everyday life without the support of the professionals that they have come to rely upon during their treatment.
The good news is that there is plenty of support to help those leaving rehab. You may even find that your rehab provider offers aftercare for a period of up to twelve months. This is because they know that this is the time when you will be at the highest risk of a relapse.
In addition to aftercare provided as a part of your rehab programme, you can also access aftercare through local support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Joining a programme such as AA can help to keep you on the right track when you are finished with your treatment. You will develop a network of friends who you can talk to about your addiction and recovery. These individuals will have been through similar situations to you, so having someone who can relate to your story can be hugely beneficial.
Living in Sobriety
During the first few months of recovery, it can be particularly tough to stay sober at certain times. Maintaining sobriety requires plenty of hard work and motivation but there are many people who go on to live much healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives when they commit to a substance-free life.
You may be nervous that you will not be able to stay sober now that your security blanket of support has been taken away. However, you should have been taught various coping strategies to help you during this uncertain time.
The best thing to do in the early days is to immerse yourself in the recovery community. Attend as many AA meetings as you can and try to make connections with the others there. Participate in the group even if you feel uncomfortable at first.
You need to remember that every single person at the meeting you are at started somewhere. They all had to attend their first meeting – even the ones who seem quite comfortable with the proceedings will have been nervous at some point.
Make the commitment to work the 12 steps and find a sponsor who you can rely on when you need to. As your sobriety gets stronger, you can look to sponsor new members. You may think that you could never be in a position to sponsor another member, but if you take your recovery a day at a time, you will be surprised at how much stronger you feel in a few months.
Put Your Recovery First
Although it may seem selfish, you need to put yourself first in the early days. You have probably been putting yourself and your need for alcohol first for many years and now feel that you need to put your family first. Nevertheless, if you do not give your full attention to your recovery in the early days, you could find yourself back in the grip of addiction. This would be a disaster not only for you but also for your family members.
You need to remember that you are still quite vulnerable to a relapse during these early days. As such, your recovery must come before everything else, including family members, friends, and your job. You have worked too hard on your detox and rehabilitation to put it in jeopardy at this stage. If you suffer a relapse, you may never get an opportunity to overcome your addiction again.
Your priority at this stage should be to attend as many fellowship meetings as you can and to avail of any counselling or therapy sessions that are included in your aftercare programme.
Preventing a Relapse
Most recovering addicts wonder what happens after alcohol rehab and a big part of your life will revolve around relapse prevention, especially in the early days when you are at more risk. Most people think an alcohol relapse occurs when a recovering alcoholic has a drink; in truth, it begins long before the first drink has been consumed.
As soon as the person starts to think that it would be okay to start drinking again, the relapse has already begun. It is common at this stage for he or she to start romanticising his or her drinking days. When the idea that drinking could be acceptable again occurs, the individual’s behaviour may quickly spiral out of control to the point where he or she is actually reaching for that drink.
It is important to know how to spot the signs of a relapse and to act to prevent a slip-up. While a small slip does not necessarily mean a return to full-blown addiction, it can end up this way for some individuals.
It is important that you remember that while a relapse is an important part of the process for some, it is not inevitable. You do not have to look at relapse as something you need to get over with. This type of attitude often leads people back down the path of addiction when they could have easily avoided it.
And just as relapse is not guaranteed, those who do experience a slip-up should not think of themselves as failures. A small slip should not indicate a full return to addictive behaviour. Provided you act immediately, you can prevent this from becoming a reality. That is why it is so important to have a relapse prevention plan in place.
How to Spot the Signs of a Relapse
It is important that you are able to spot the signs of an impending relapse in order to prevent it from occurring. Steering clear of temptation is one of the best ways to avoid a relapse, so you need to know what your personal temptations are.
While some temptations may be pretty clear-cut, such as your local pub or off licence, others may not be so obvious. For example, maybe you always had a beer whenever football was on the television during a weeknight. You may want to avoid watching the football for a while, or change the place where you watch it. If you always watched it in the living room, try changing things up and watching in your bedroom, if you have access to a television there.
You are likely to be faced with temptations in many different situations, so you need to be prepared to act to prevent them from sabotaging your sobriety. You are bound to see advertisements for alcohol in everyday life. If they appear on the television, you can change the channel or get up and leave the room until the programme you are watching returns.
You may also want to have a good look around your house to remove any alcohol that may be hidden in everyday items. Even the smell of alcohol in cleaning solutions can be enough to trigger cravings in some individuals.
How to Stay Sober
There are a number of things that you can do to stay sober long-term. Avoiding your personal temptations is important but there are many other triggers to a relapse. In the recovery community these are known by the acronym HALT (Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness).
If you get hungry, you may be more susceptible to a relapse. The same can be said if you get angry, lonely, or tired. It is important that you do all you can to avoid these feelings. Anger is an emotion that should be avoided. It is a good idea to talk to someone such as a close family member, friend, or sponsor when you are feeling angry. Failure to do this could allow these feelings to consume you and you may find yourself on the slippery slope to addiction once more.
Loneliness is a major problem in addiction recovery. Those who fail to stay active and get involved with their local fellowship meetings could easily find themselves struggling with loneliness. Now that they are no longer associating with their drinking friends, they may feel bored when family members and friends are busy elsewhere.
Getting involved with your local fellowship meeting will mean that you have a whole community to help you stay on the right track.
Living a sober life can be tough, especially in the early days, but with plenty of support, it is entirely possible. If you would like more information on what happens after alcohol rehab, please get in touch with us here at Oasis Bradford. We are here to assist when it comes to answering any queries you may have or helping you to find a programme that will meet your own personal needs and situation.
Please call today to find out more about us and how we can help you.