Decades of research into drug addiction shows that completing a long-term treatment program is crucial to sustaining long-term recovery and successful re-entry into the community. Once a patient has undergone a medical detox, going into a treatment program for a minimum of three-months is the next recommended step. After completing an inpatient treatment program, outpatient treatment, including meetings, therapy, and medication where needed, may be appropriate for some patients, but many will find it more beneficial to continue their recovery in a residential setting, such as a sober living house, where the focus remains on recovery and healing.
Addiction Recovery Should be Based on the Patient’s Individual Needs
Numerous studies have shown that, like other serious, life-threatening diseases, it takes time to recover from addiction. The amount of time and specific medical, psychological, and therapeutic treatment each individual requires is based on many factors. The most effective treatment is based on the individual patient’s unique medical and psychosocial history and current needs, and can be monitored and adjusted as the patient grows healthier and more able to address specific issues and facets of recovery.
A Positive, Nurturing Environment is Crucial to Achieve a Healthy Outcome
Thinking of sobriety as a lifetime commitment can seem overwhelming and impossible to attempt. The best way to think of long-term recovery is stacking up sober days one day at a time while learning new life skills.
Being around others who are recovering, while under the care of trained staff members who are invested in each patient’s long-term recovery, will give an individual the best chance possible to recover from addiction and maintain long-term sobriety. Socializing with others in recovery and being there for each other can help each individual to learn how to interact with others in a healthy way while in a safe, nurturing space.
Stress-Reduction is Important in Early Recovery
Life can be stressful for anybody. Most addicts used drugs to cope with or escape altogether from stressful situations, and certain stressors can trigger a craving for the addict’s drug of choice. Some addicts switch from one substance to another, depending on availability, and the substitute is often more dangerous. One common example is drinking alcohol instead of using opioids. Another example is switching from a prescribed opioid drug to heroin.
Learning how to deal with stressors gradually, while in a safe, sober, supportive environment is crucial to maintaining sobriety long-term. By staying in a recovery space while in early recovery, a patient is giving him or herself time to gradually learn the coping skills necessary to deal with the inevitable stressors that people have in their daily lives without self-medicating with alcohol or another drug.
Some healthy alternatives to cope with stress can be yoga, exercise, cooking, meditation, writing, painting, or even escaping into a good book or TV show. Most people find what works for them individually, depending on their unique interests.
Long-Term Treatment Is Usually Necessary to Maintain Long-Term Sobriety
There is no shortcut to recover from addiction. Addiction recovery is a long process that goes far beyond cessation of using the addictive drug. Recovery encompasses learning new living skills and addressing the psychosocial and for some people medical issues that may have precipitated using and becoming addicted in the first place. By choosing a long-term treatment plan patients give themselves the best possible chance to achieve a lasting, healthy and reasonably happy sobriety.
About the Author:
Mike Williams is a San Diego native who participates in recovery at the By the Sea San Diego sober living house has written about the field of behavioral health for over 15 years.