Rehab is a space to observe behaviors, work through trauma and create new patterns. Yet the biggest steps occur when our clients discharge. When they get the opportunity to apply new skills to everyday life. This is what is referred to as, “living in recovery.”
As hard as our clients work, transitions can be difficult. Our case managers work with clients to map out what their day-to-day lifestyle may look like. These are some of the tools we have found most effective in maintaining addiction sobriety:
Those who have struggled with addiction are prone to impulsive behavior. Creating a daily routine allows a person to feel grounded and make wise choices. A routine can include outlined times for exercise, recovery meetings, daily reflection, meals and a bed time. Whatever the routine is it should best serve the individual. Some people are energized by a full schedule, others find it overwhelming. When creating a routine be mindful that it suits the individuals personality and stage of recovery.
Many people forget that addiction is a disease just like diabetes, asthma, or high blood pressure. A disease does not go away after a few months of treatment-it requires consistent observation and care. Addictions are a disease of the mind. As such, the most effective tool in managing them is ongoing therapy. Some see a counselor twice a week, while others schedule visits twice a month. Therapy continues to help one to navigate relationships, build self-awareness and continue the healing process.
According to self-help guru, Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Our community of friends affect everything from our diet to our entertainment. This is something we remind clients of when looking at their friendships. We encourage them to reflect.
“Does this person have similar interests, beliefs and goals? Are they sober? If not, will their alcohol or drug use affect my sobriety?”
Rehab creates the space to ask the big questions of, “Who am I” and “Where do I want to go?” From there it’s about making choices to develop friendships with like minded people to journey through life with.
Many become so gripped by their addictions that they ignore their personal passions. Whether it be painting, golf, playing the guitar or hiking, doing the things we love bring us peace and happiness. Carving out time for them is essential to personal well being.
Exercise that increases heart rate has been shown to reduce drug and alcohol cravings. The increased levels of dopamine are to thank. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that creates a soothing sensation. Levels of dopamine also increase when drugs and alcohol are used. The loss of the dopamine can be shocking to the body. Replacing drugs and alcohol with exercise is an excellent tool. Some high-aerobic activities include bicycling, running, swimming, tennis and high intensity yoga.
The way an addict responds to relationships and stress can be heightened. Going to meetings where there are people who experience similar struggles and share how they cope is a great support to recovery. As well, involvement in a 12 step community is a positive influence to maintain sobriety. Remembering what addiction was like, being of service to new comers and working the 12 steps all contribute to life long recovery. The number of recovery meetings to attend is based on the individual. Some attend 5 meetings a week, while others attend twice a month.
One of the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) is that one never ‘graduates’ from recovery. Though a person can complete the 12 Steps of the A.A. program, they are encouraged to promptly start them over again. This is a symbol that addiction recovery is a life long process. The journey happens one therapy session, one lunch, one run on the beach and one meeting at time.