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After Treatment

If you or someone you know is heading toward a drug recovery treatment program, or perhaps is currently going through one or have just finished, you might be wondering what you can expect after treatment. It is first important to recognize that drug addiction is a treatable disease and has relapse rates similar to that of other diseases like diabetes, Asthma and Hypertension – all which share behavioral components akin to what a person might experience through addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates a relapse rate of about 40 to 60 percent within the first five years, but that number drops to only 15 percent following that five year clean period.

While it is normal to feel worried or concerned about the a potential relapse with drug addiction, it is important to note that relapse does not equal failure. It simply means the treatment methods need to be reinstated or adjusted based on the need of the patient – similar to what a patient with another disease would experience. Don’t let the fear of failure or relapse deter you from getting the help you need to get on the road to recovery. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect after treatment of drug addiction therapy.

Principles of Recovery:

Recovery can be a complex process that includes many positive benefits to the individual including physical, mental and social health following the person getting the help they need to rid themselves of a drug addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, there are several key factors that play a role in a person’s recovery from drug addiction. Some of these include ideas like:

  • There are many ways a person can take the path to recovery.
  • Recovery is driven by the patient and is empowering to that individual.
  • Recovery begins when a person realizes the need for change and transformation.
  • Recovery takes place on the path of improved health and wellness.
  • Recovery requires healing and self-redirection.
  • Recovery means being able to address discrimination faced by recovering addicts and transcending the shame and stigma that might come with that.
  • Recovery means rejoining society and building healthy relationships.
  • Recovery is a reality for most drug addicts. It can and will happen.

After Treatment – Likelihood of recovery success:

Following a drug addiction treatment program, it is generally recommended the individual remain part of an on-going drug treatment support plan. This can include regular visits with a drug addiction counselor through individualized counseling as well as group counseling with others suffering from addiction guided by a professional therapist or psychologist. Many programs will also recommend the individual attend a support group like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or something similar to help keep that person on the right track.

One of the keys to success in drug addiction recovery stems from the person’s desire to make a change in all behaviors of their life. After treatment, it is important not to fall back into old patterns by seeing old friends that might still participate in drug-related activities. Instead, by attending group therapy, support groups, seeking the support of family and friends, it helps the individual’s ability to stay on the road to recovery.

Drug Addiction Triggers:

Following recovery there are many triggers a former addict can encounter that might lead to relapse. Knowing these triggers can be helpful in allowing the person to take steps to avoid them to start rather than falling prey to their old lifestyle.

  • Trying to get back to normal too soon. When a person leaves treatment, they often try to resume their life as it was before. They might visit old haunts, see old friends and eventually engage in old behaviors. It is helpful to avoid places and people that were part of your life while you were addicted to drugs. Those who are still using can be a dangerous influence on your recovery.
  • Overconfidence. While it is important to feel strong and capable of regaining your life after treatment from drug addiction, it is equally as important to not allow that confidence to make you think it is okay to hang out with old friends who might still be using or visit places where drug use takes place like bars or clubs. Give yourself time to adjust to a new normal.
  • Taking part in the company of enablers. While most family members and friends have good intentions, there are some – especially close loved ones – who might have previously enabled your behavior. Avoid these people and be sure they are aware of their tendencies to enable your lifestyle. It can be helpful for these people to attend a therapy session or two with you so they can understand your new treatment plan and future plans to get well.
  • Stress, depression and anxiety. Mental illness is one of the biggest reasons a person may turn to drug abuse in the first place. After treatment, if a person immediately falls back into a life of stress, anxiety-inducing behaviors and perhaps depression, it is likely they will lose the confidence to stay clean and they will begin using again.
  • Overdoing it. Again, stress is a major factor in relapse. Don’t allow yourself to feel too overwhelmed and anxious regarding life obligations and stresses. If this means you need to rely on the help of others, be sure to ask for that help and ease back into it.
  • Recovery tools that are no longer effective. Just like with any disease, treatment can lose its effectiveness over time and may need to be adjusted. If you find that a certain treatment or therapy no longer feels effective, be sure to speak with your drug addiction counselor about revising your treatment plan.
  • Not enough sleep and self-care. One of the most important and overlooked aspects of recovery, make sure you are getting enough sleep and taking care of your basic needs.

After recovery treatment, one of the keys to success is to be your best advocate. Be confident in your ability to succeed, but be sure to ask for help as soon as you find yourself struggling, Relapse can begin before a person even uses drugs again. Taking measures to prevent relapse can be one of the biggest tools a person can have in taking charge of their own recovery.


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