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Embracing the Lifelong Recovery Journey Post-Rehabilitation

Updated: Oct 20, 2023




Introduction

Having explored the landscape of addiction (Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 ), we now stand at the gateway of a lifelong journey – the continuous process of recovery. This concluding piece of our series uncovers the numerous aspects of life post rehabilitation, emphasising the importance of a practical approach towards overcoming challenges, managing triggers, and addressing relapse.


Exploring Treatment Options for Addiction

Embarking on the road to recovery from addiction is a significant step, and the journey often begins with choosing the right treatment option. There are many different types of treatment available, and while they may use different methods, they all have the same goal, namely, to help you:


  • Stop using substances,

  • Deal with withdrawal symptoms

  • Manage any underlying and coexisting mental health conditions

  • Address any social or environmental factors that may have contributed to the addiction

  • Live a healthy, fulfilling life.


Here is an overview of some prevalent addiction treatment options:

  1. Detoxification: The journey often begins with detoxification - the process of eliminating drugs or alcohol from the body. Although this phase can be challenging and uncomfortable, it is a crucial initial step towards recovery. It is advisable to undergo detox under the supervision of a medical professional.

  2. Medication-Assisted treatment (MAT): This approach combines medication with counseling and other support services to help people recover from addiction. This approach can be highly effective in maintaining sobriety and managing cravings.

  3. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals identify and alter the negative thoughts and behaviours fuelling their addiction. It helps people to develop coping skills and strategies to prevent relapse.

  4. Twelve-Step Programmes: Self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous use Twelve-Step Programmes to guide individuals through a structured path of recovery, offering mutual support and accountability.

  5. Inpatient Treatment: Inpatient facilities provide intensive residential care for people with severe addiction, typically lasting 28-90 days. Residents receive continuous support and care in a structured environment, which can be conducive to healing and avoiding relapse triggers.

  6. Outpatient Treatment: A less intensive alternative, outpatient treatment often involves weekly or biweekly individual and group counselling sessions. It suits individuals with strong home support systems and the ability to adhere to a treatment plan.

  7. Life Skills Training: Involves learning and relearning essential skills like time management, interpersonal communication skills, financial management, problem-solving skills, and stress coping mechanisms. These skills can help people in recovery manage their everyday lives.

  8. Vocational Training: This can help people build self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment, acquire job skills, improve employment prospects, achieve financial independence, and establish a structured routine, all of which can benefit recovery.

  9. Support Groups: In addition to Twelve-Step Programs, there are many other support groups that provide a safe and supportive space for people to share their experiences and offer mutual support.


Each of these components, whether pursued individually or in combination, can significantly enhance the recovery experience, providing a more holistic and robust foundation for long-term sobriety and improved quality of life.


The most suitable treatment option will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. It is important to talk to a doctor or addiction specialist to get help choosing the right treatment program for you. Regardless of the treatment route you choose, patience is key. Addiction is a chronic condition, and recovery often requires long-term treatment. The most effective approach is a combination of medication and counseling, along with other supportive services. With the right treatment approach, you can overcome addiction and go on to lead a happy, healthy, and productive life.


Insights from Addiction Experts

Adrian Mugenyi: "People focus on substance abuse, not its underlying causes. Many people try smoking cigarettes and other drugs due to peer pressure, but those who dislike the taste and smell do not continue. Others become hooked because of underlying co-morbidities. Most people who use substances are self-medicating, finding reward in them. Treatment should address both the physiological and psychological aspects. Medically assisted therapy and psychotherapy have shown significant success, with the latter being the most successful."

Renowned addiction and trauma expert, Gabor Maté, shares: "Addiction is often a manifestation of underlying trauma. Addressing the root cause of the trauma is essential for treating addiction. Counselling and therapy play a vital role in helping individuals understand the origins of their addiction, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and receive the necessary support and encouragement throughout the recovery process."

Choosing the right addiction treatment option is a crucial decision. By considering your individual needs and circumstances, and by seeking the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, you can find the right path to recovery and a brighter future.


Each of these components, whether pursued individually or in combination, can significantly enhance the recovery experience, providing a more holistic and robust foundation for long-term sobriety and improved quality of life.


Rehabilitation: Your Pathway to Recovery from Addiction

Rehabilitation is a structured, supportive journey towards overcoming addiction and the first step in recovery. It blends treatment methodologies, including medical intervention, counselling, and community support to foster recovery. Rehab programmes can be inpatient or outpatient, ranging from weeks to months.


High Cost and Skepticism Surrounding Rehabs: Many readers have highlighted challenges tied to rehabilitation centres (rehabs), with the high cost emerging as a principal concern, rendering these services out of reach for many. Additionally, doubts about the effectiveness of these centres have been voiced, given the instances of multiple readmissions. Adrian Mugenyi urges us to view substance use as a disease, comparable to diabetes or typhoid. He advocates for a long-term management outlook rather than perceiving rehabilitation as a one-off cure for a chronic ailment. Recurring rehab admissions are not a sign of failure, but a call for mindful management of the recovery journey. (See subsequent section for more insights.)


Role of the Family: Family plays a crucial role in recovery, but misguided actions stemming from desperation or misinformation can derail the process. On occasion, parents and caretakers, albeit with good intentions, may resort to punitive actions. They might engage the police to forcibly escort the person to rehab, or in extreme cases, have them imprisoned. Such forceful measures towards treatment are counterproductive, and imprisonment does not offer a solution since substance users are not criminals.


The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health: Given that addiction impacts the brain, numerous substance users encounter mental health challenges. However, mental health remains a taboo subject shrouded in stigma. The dread of being labelled as insane serves as a deterrent for many in seeking the help they desperately need.


Lack of Standardisation of Rehabs: A pressing issue highlighted by the readers is the lack of standardisation among rehabilitation centres with some being more interested in profit than in helping their patients. The spectrum of treatment protocols is vast; some centres lean towards punitive measures while others champion a spiritual journey with salvation at its core. The personnel employed at some of these establishments often lack the requisite qualifications, with some even having questionable moral standings. A scenario was painted where healthcare workers in these centres interact with affluent young people, who, due to their financial capabilities, could easily bribe their way into smuggling substances into these supposed sanctuaries of recovery. It is a grave concern echoed by many readers who lamented that their children, initially addicted to a single substance, emerged from rehab with a broader substance abuse repertoire.


Adrian Mugenyi stresses that the challenges posed by substance abuse will indeed be a litmus test for both individual and national cultural frameworks. He calls for a robust, ethical, and standardised approach to rehabilitation, to protect the vulnerable from the vices that currently plague some rehab centres.


Here are some tips for choosing a rehab centre:

  1. Research and Recommendations: Seek recommendations from trusted sources, and research various rehabilitation centres to understand the scope and efficacy of their programmes.

  2. Individualised Treatment Plans: Look for centres offering personalised treatment plans catering to the unique needs and circumstances of the individual.

  3. Experienced and Compassionate Staff: Ensure the presence of knowledgeable and empathetic staff who can provide professional guidance and emotional support.

  4. Holistic Approach: Opt for centres adopting a holistic approach, addressing not just the addiction, but the underlying causes and coexisting mental health issues.

  5. Family Involvement: Choose programmes that involve family in the rehabilitation process, educating them on supporting their loved one through recovery.

  6. Aftercare Planning:Ensure the rehab provides a robust aftercare plan to support the individual in maintaining long-term sobriety post-treatment.


To support loved ones considering rehab:

  1. Open Conversations: Have open conversations, highlighting the benefits of rehab without judgement or coercion. Encourage them to take the initiative.

  2. Educational Resources: Provide educational resources to help understand the nature of addiction and the importance of professional help in overcoming it.

  3. Community Support Groups: Engage with local or online support groups to share experiences, gain insights, and build a supportive network during and after rehabilitation.

  4. Financial Planning: Explore financial assistance options, insurance coverage, or payment plans offered by rehabilitation centres to alleviate the financial burden.


By carefully choosing a rehab centre and adopting a supportive, informed approach, we can smooth the path to recovery and create a hopeful, healthier future.


A Realistic Approach to Overcoming Recovery Challenges

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is connection," says Johann Hari, a writer and journalist known for his work on addiction, depression, and drugs. His quote draws our attention to the deeper issue in addiction - a lack of connection and belonging. When people feel lonely, isolated, or disconnected, they may turn to drugs or other addictive behaviours to cope. As social beings, we need to feel connected to thrive. When we feel loved, supported, and accepted, we are less likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. “Addiction is not a choice, but recovery is," emphasises that while people do not choose to become addicted, they can choose to seek help and recover.


Recovery from addiction is a long-term process that continues well beyond the initial rehabilitation period. It involves changing one's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to live a healthier life without substances or other addictive behaviours. Each person's recovery process is unique, but there are several evidence-based treatments that can provide a solid foundation.


The thought of life without addiction can be daunting. One of the challenges in recovery is dealing with the lasting effects of addiction. Addiction changes our brain chemistry, which can lead to cravings, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. It is important to know that these challenges are a normal part of recovery and to find healthy ways to cope with them.


Another challenge is dealing with triggers, which are anything that might make a person want to use drugs or alcohol again, including certain people, places, or things. Being aware of our triggers and having a plan to deal with them is crucial.


Recovery is also a time to rebuild relationships that may have been damaged by addiction. This may involve apologizing for past behaviour and learning to communicate in a healthier way.


Here are some of key components of recovery from addiction:


  • Abstinence: The first step in recovery is to stop using substances or engaging in other addictive behaviors.

  • Detox: Detoxification is the process of removing drugs and alcohol from the body, and it is best done with medical supervision.

  • Treatment: A variety of treatment options are available, including inpatient or outpatient care, individual or group therapy, and medication. Support: Having a strong support system, including family, friends, therapists, or support groups, is crucial for recovery.

  • Aftercare: Aftercare is the support that people receive after they complete treatment to help them to stay on track and avoid relapse.


Recovery is like having a broken leg that needs a cast to heal, followed by physical therapy to regain strength and mobility. Rehab acts like the cast, providing the structure needed for the initial healing. After rehab, the focus shifts to rebuilding life, which may include developing new coping mechanisms, building a support system, and finding new activities to enjoy.


"Recovery from addiction is a journey, not a destination.” There will be challenges along the way, but remember, you are not alone. Many people have successfully overcome addiction and so can you.


Here are some tips for overcoming the challenges of recovery:


  • Self-acceptance: Addiction is often accompanied by denial, which can make it difficult to seek treatment. Accepting there is a problem is the first step to recovery.

  • Seek Help: Seek help from a professional who can provide guidance and support.

  • Build a Strong Support System: Surround yourself with supportive people who understand what you are going through.

  • Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms: Find healthy ways to cope with stress and other negative emotions.

  • Avoid Triggers: Identify and avoid your triggers as much as possible.

  • Be Patient with Yourself: Recovery takes time; do not get discouraged by setbacks.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Start with small, achievable goals and gradually work your way up.

  • Celebrate your Successes: Recognise your progress to stay motivated.

  • Do not be Afraid to Ask for Help: If you are struggling, ask for help from your support system or from a professional.

  • Maintain a Positive Outlook: Stay positive and open-minded about the recovery process.

  • Educate yourself and Loved Ones: Learn about addiction, its triggers, and how to manage them.

  • Stay Committed: Stick to your treatment plan and attend all scheduled sessions.


Choosing to walk the path of recovery is a bold and empowering choice. With the right information, professional guidance, and a supportive network, finding a suitable rehabilitation path becomes more achievable, paving the way for a healthier, more fulfilling life free from addiction.


Cross-Addiction and Relapse in Recovery

Recovery, a word that bears the weight of hope and the promise of a better tomorrow, is a journey rather than a destination. It is about taking one day at a time, remembering you are not alone on this path. It is about knowing it is never too late to start over, and that the goal is progress, not perfection. Much like a marathon that tests endurance over a sprint's speed, recovery is a long-term commitment. It is not a linear path; there will be setbacks. Yet, it is a journey of self-discovery, a process of learning and growing, and above all, a celebration of resilience and strength.


Cross-addiction: The Subtle Shift

Cross-addiction, a shift from one addictive behaviour to another, exemplifies the complex nature of addiction. It is often driven by underlying issues like stress or boredom, making the journey of recovery a nuanced one. The shift in addictive focus showcases the importance of addressing the root causes of addiction, not just the substance or behaviour itself.


Relapse: A Hurdle, Not a Failure

Relapse, a common occurrence in recovery, is a hurdle rather than a mark of failure. Identifying triggers, having a robust support system, and engaging in treatment are crucial steps in managing and overcoming relapses. Setbacks may occur, but with perseverance and support, overcoming addiction and building a healthy, fulfilling life is achievable.


"Your ability to overcome is stronger than the struggle." Relapses are part of this journey, akin to how a person with diabetes may struggle with sugar intake.


Managing Addiction Triggers and Cravings

Various factors can trigger one to start using substances again. It could be as simple as being in a room where they used to use, or as specific as a particular song playing. Regardless of the trigger, it is vital to remember that addiction is a disease, and managing triggers and cravings is a critical part of recovery.


A solid support system is key. Friends, family, or a therapist can be part of this system, helping to stay on track. It is also crucial to have a coping plan for when triggers or cravings arise. This plan could involve distraction techniques like reading or active coping mechanisms like going for a run. And remember, relapse is a part of recovery. If a slip occurs, do not be too hard on yourself. Get back on track and continue working towards sobriety.


Addiction Relapse – How to Manage If It Occurs

Relapse is part of recovery, not a sign of failure. Understanding common relapse triggers such as stress, boredom, isolation, depression, grief, anger, and anxiety is fundamental for devising better management and prevention strategies.


Relapses are almost a given in the addiction recovery process, considered part of the disease. Though disheartening, relapses can be a learning experience and a chance to recommit to sobriety.


In the event of a relapse, getting back on track swiftly is essential. This could mean seeking professional help or attending a support group. With the right support, it is possible to get back on track and achieve sobriety goals.


Embarking on the road to recovery may present challenges like cross-addiction and relapses, but with the right approach and support, a healthy, fulfilling life beyond addiction is within reach.


Reflecting on the Recovery Journey: Final Thoughts

Over the course of these four discussions, we have journeyed through understanding addiction, acknowledging its lasting effects, addressing substance abuse, and embracing the recovery process post-rehabilitation. This journey underscores the need for a collective, compassionate, and informed approach in both combating addiction and supporting those on the path of recovery. The dialogue does not end here; rather, it has only just begun.


Join the Conversation!

🌸 Share Your Journey: Your testimony could guide others through the tumultuous path of recovery.

🌱 Promote Positivity: How can we galvanise our collective efforts to encourage and sustain recovery?

💡 Change the Lens: How can we shift societal perceptions to better understand and support individuals on their recovery journey?

👥 Create a Supportive Network: Share your insights on effective strategies that have fostered recovery and discipline.

Be Considerate: Remember, compassion and understanding form the bedrock of our discussion here.

📣 Raise Awareness: Share this post to broaden the conversation and contribute to a societal shift towards better understanding of addiction recovery.

📚 Educate and Enlighten: Are there insightful resources you would recommend for understanding the recovery journey?

🔗 Connect for Recovery: Highlight organisations that have been pivotal in supporting long-term recovery from addiction.



About the Author

In this final piece of the series, Nite Tanzarn, the esteemed Independent International Consultant, explorea the lifelong journey of recovery post rehabilitation. Her narrative continues to reflect a profound commitment to social justice, gender equality, and an unyielding advocacy for nuanced and compassionate dialogues surrounding addiction and recovery.


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53 Comments


Guest
Oct 28, 2023

"Recovery is a choice" gives us hope.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 28, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Indeed, the idea that "Recovery is a choice" serves as a beacon of hope for many. It underscores the element of agency that individuals have in their recovery journey. While the path may be fraught with challenges, each choice made in favour of recovery is a step forward. Your words add an uplifting note to a complex and often difficult subject.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #RoadToRecovery #LifePostRehabilitation #ContinuousJourney

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023

The article is packed with a lot of useful information. Have you considered disseminating it in other ways that are more accessible to those who have no access to the Internet or don't or can't read?


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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

Your suggestion is valuable and has got me thinking. Making this content accessible to a wider audience, especially those who might not have Internet access or reading abilities, is a fantastic idea. I will certainly look into alternative dissemination methods. Thank you for pointing this out, and for your kind words about the article's content.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #RoadToRecovery #LifePostRehabilitation #ContinuousJourney #RealisticApproach

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Guest
Oct 27, 2023

Can you please write about managing relapses. This seems to be one of the biggest challenges of the users as well as the caretakers

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

You bring up an important point about the recovery journey: managing relapses. This is indeed a major concern not only for the individuals undergoing recovery but also for their caretakers and loved ones. It's a topic that deserves a dedicated discussion, and I will certainly include it in upcoming posts.

Understanding that relapse is often a part of the journey, rather than a detour, is crucial for both the individual and their support network. When it does occur, it's an opportunity to reevaluate coping mechanisms, identify triggers, and perhaps make adjustments to the treatment plan.

Thank you for pointing out this essential aspect of the recovery journey. Your input will definitely help guide future posts.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #RoadToRecovery #LifePostRehabilitation…

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Pierre
Pierre
Oct 25, 2023

The first step in recovery is conceding that you have a problem...that you are an addict. It could be seen as a small step but it is crucial because without it your journey never starts.

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

Dear Pierre,

Thank you for your insightful comment. You are absolutely correct; acknowledging the issue is an often underestimated yet critical first step in the recovery process. This moment of clarity is the foundation upon which the entire journey is built. It sets the stage for all the hard work and commitment that follow, and without it, the path to recovery remains elusive.

Your point underscores the fact that every step, no matter how small it may seem, holds immense significance in the larger scheme of things. As we explore the multifaceted nature of addiction and recovery in this series, your contribution serves as a vital reminder of the importance of that first, courageous admission.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #RoadToRecovery #BreakingTheSilence…

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Guest
Oct 25, 2023

There is a lot of stigma surrounding relapse. I am currently in recovery and it is not my first time. I have in recovery and relapsed a few times

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 25, 2023
Replying to

First and foremost, congratulations on taking the courageous steps toward recovery; it's a lifelong journey and your effort should not be minimised. Relapse is indeed stigmatised, but it's important to remember that it is often part of the journey and not a sign of failure. Much like managing a chronic illness, the road to recovery is not a straight line; it has its ups and downs. The key is not to see a relapse as a dead-end, but as a detour. It's an opportunity to reassess your strategies for recovery, identify your triggers, and make a renewed commitment to your journey.

In challenging times, self-compassion is crucial. Beating yourself up for relapsing will not serve you; what will serve you…


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