When you are trying to get clean and live sober, drug addiction recovery statistics may seem grim. Between 40 and 60% of people who complete a recovery program will relapse at least once in the four years after they finish treatment, making it very likely that you will experience a relapse. After a relapse, many people become guilty and depressed. They often feel as though they have failed their family and friends. Most importantly, they despair of ever living free of addiction. These feelings of hopelessness make it difficult or impossible to get back up and try again, which is crucial to sober living. But what should you do if rehab just doesn’t seem to be working?
Evaluate Your Program
Is there something about the treatments you have been trying that is not working for you? Many programs were developed decades ago and have undergone few changes in the years since they were established. The outdated methods of these programs are leaving many people in endless cycles of getting clean and relapsing, only to have to go through the program again.
Many of these programs fail to emphasize individual counseling in favor of group therapy. Although group therapy is important and valuable for people in recovery, it is not always possible for the people in the group to fully discuss their problems and issues. In addition, people often do not feel comfortable talking about their feelings in group settings, and no amount of encouragement or assurances that they are in a judgment-free environment will convince them to open up entirely. Programs that rely heavily on group therapy often suggest that if the program is not working for particular individuals it is a failure on the part of the person, not a flaw in the design of the program.
If the program or programs you have tried all rely heavily on group therapy while underemphasizing individual counseling, you may benefit from a program that pays more attention to individualized therapy. These types of programs will give you opportunities to get to the root of your addiction and behavior in a safe, private setting.
As many as 80% of residential rehab programs do not give any medications to their patients. Although many addicts can safely kick their addictions without medications, some drugs cause drastic physical changes in the brain that actually make it unsafe for addicts to quit cold turkey. The brain frequently is unable to produce dopamine in sufficient levels. Dopamine controls a number of bodily processes, including motor and cardiovascular functions, in addition to causing happiness and pleasure.
Many people fighting addictions that have lasted for years experience severe side effects that can be relieved with certain medications such as opiate replacements. Rehab facilities that do not allow these may be doing some of their patients a disservice, making recovery more difficult than necessary and making it more likely they will relapse later. If your treatment program did not allow the use of these medications, consider one that does.
Think About What You Can Do Differently
If you can’t find a treatment program that works for you, or if the program itself doesn’t seem to be the problem, make an honest assessment of your behaviors, habits and triggers. Are there a lot of triggers in your life that fill you with the urge to drink or take drugs? Although treatment programs often help you identify these triggers, it is not always possible to resist them, especially when many triggers are present in your life on a consistent basis. You may need to change one or more aspects of your life in order to avoid these triggers.
Finding different ways to reduce your stress is another way to change the way you react to triggers. Many people in recovery find that taking up hobbies or healthy activities distracts them when they are feeling bored or stressed. Yoga, exercise, crafting, writing or playing music are all common ways of de-stressing and are especially effective when you feel triggered. Taking classes is a good way to meet people outside of rehab who you can connect with based on your interests and not your addiction. Spending time with people who are not involved with your habit or your treatment helps take your mind off of drugs and the stress of getting and staying clean.
Get Support from Your Family and Friends
Having support from people close to you is important beyond rehab. Talking to your family and friends while you are living sober can help you avoid drugs and alcohol. If you are honest about your cravings, it is likely that the people who care about you will be happy to listen to your problems and help you cope with them.
Avoid Toxic Relationships
Sometimes your family and friends can be toxic to your continued recovery. It is common for family members to enable a person’s addiction, and unless they get counseling as well while you are in treatment, it is likely that they will continue these behaviors. Although it may be hard to let these people go, you may need to keep them out of your life for a while, especially if you are feeling vulnerable after a few attempts at rehab. You will probably not have to avoid them forever, but if they continue to cause you to be triggered, you may need to keep them out of your life. Encouraging them to find counseling will make it more likely that you can reunite at some point.
Distancing yourself from friends who enabled your addiction is also important. Many people find that the only thing they have in common with their friends is their drug use. These kinds of friendships are not conducive to your continued life as a sober person.
These changes are not always easy to make. However, getting sober is not easy either, but it is worth it in the end. Although about half of people in recovery will relapse, this does not mean that they have failed entirely. The most important step to take after a relapse is to try again. Having the support of family and friends, finding new activities to distract you from cravings and help you find new friendships and finding rehab programs that work best for you are all positive steps you can take toward getting and staying clean. Trying the same failed strategies again and again is a sure way to ensure you will not find a way to live sober.