Achieving lasting sobriety is often referred to as a “journey”. And, not without reason. Every step taken is meaningful and beneficial. Each one is a major leap forward. However, the path to wellness is a long and arduous one. That is why rehabs in Florida advise taking it one at a time. Today, we’ll help you familiarize yourself with every step of the journey to long-term sobriety and a bright future.
1st step: Acknowledge the problem
“The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.” – Zig Ziglar
This is the most obvious step on a journey to long-term sobriety and a bright future. Yet, for most people, it is the hardest one to take. The most important thing to note here is that this is NOT a personal failure. Rather, it is due to how addiction works.
First, let’s look at it from the physical health perspective. In the vast majority of cases, addiction changes the way the body functions. It hijacks natural processes, altering the way they work. The body is now used to this new state, considering it to be a new normal. This is otherwise known as “forming a dependency”. At this point, the body no longer knows how to function without the substance. It is a gradual and subtle process, that doesn’t happen overnight. This makes it hard to notice the symptoms of addiction until they reach a critical point.
Next, we must look at the problem from a psychological standpoint. Addiction also alters or, rather, twists the way a person thinks. Mostly, for the reasons mentioned above. This results in two possible scenarios:
- A person does not realize they have a problem. And, since everything is “A-OK”, there’s no need to take action or make a change;
- A person realizes they have a problem, but chooses to ignore it. This is often due to fear or shame of being shunned and judged by society.
Needless to say, both scenarios are equally bad. They make it hard for a person to not only acknowledge the problem but, also, to reach out and ask for help.
And, now, for some good news. The very fact you’re reading this means you took that first step! Whether it is you who needs help, or a loved one, you are ready to continue down the path of wellness.
2nd step: Preparation
“Knowledge is power”- Francis Bacon
At this point, you’re well aware that the problem exists. However, you may not be ready to fully commit to making the change yet. And, that is perfectly fine! Recovery is not something that you can or should force or rush. You’ve got the ball rolling. Now, it’s time to keep it going. And the best way to do that is with a bit of good old research.
First, take some time to learn more about addiction in general. Also known as Substance Use Disorder (SUD), this disease is widely misunderstood. For example, most people do not know it is a disease in the first place. And that’s where most misconceptions originate from. You may start right here, right now, with the following:
This knowledge will give you some clarity not only about what you’re facing, but how best to face it.
The deeper the understanding, the easier it is to find the solution
Once you have a good understanding of the bases, you may want to deepen it further. You can do that by focusing on a specific SUD, for instance:
Armed with knowledge, you are more than ready to take the next step on a journey to long term sobriety and a bright future.
However, even at this point, some still feel like they need a little push. Again, that is completely normal and expected. If you’re feeling that way too, you can read some rehab success stories for a morale boost. Even better, talk to people that went through the same. Their knowledge and experience often provide invaluable insight.
Of course, the best option is to have a chat with rehab professionals. And, yes, we know how intimidating that sounds. But, there’s no one better suited to help than people who have been doing it for years. They trained for that single purpose. They’ve committed their lives to that cause. As such, they know the best ways to help and make a journey to recovery far easier.
3rd step: Commit to making the change
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” – George Herbert
At this stage, two major things should be more than obvious:
- There is a problem and it is solvable;
- You are not alone. There are people out there that can and will help you.
With that, you are ready to pave the way to recovery. The most reliable approach is to ask professionals for help. Now is the perfect time to contact rehab specialists, if you didn’t do so already.
Once you get in touch with them, they’ll usually ask you a bunch of questions. Some may seem invasive, but they all serve one purpose: to find the best way to help. Therefore, be sure to answer them truthfully, to the best of your abilities. Of course, this process works both ways. So, if there’s something you wish to know, don’t be afraid to ask. Just fire away! Remember, they are here for you and they’ll do anything in their power to make your transition easier.
Choose how to handle the problem
This topic will inevitably pop up during your conversation with rehab experts. In most cases, they will suggest enrolling in a rehab. And, we strongly suggest you take their advice. Rehab programs exist for a reason. The primary one is providing help in overcoming addiction. That much is obvious. However, that is but a fraction of a greater picture.
Addiction is a complex issue. So much so, that staying free of it demands a lifelong commitment. And that’s where the biggest upside of rehab programs lies. In it, a person can acquire all the tools they need for a quality life after they leave the program. Granted, this is a gross oversimplification. Still, the point remains the same. Rehab is the best chance to overcome addiction and to live a sober and prosperous life afterward.
However, do bear one thing in mind. Not all rehab programs and centers are the same. SUDs are incredibly diverse and manifest in many different ways. It is impossible for a single facility to treat them all. In fact, the finest clinics focus on a few specific SUD treatments only. And that’s why they excel at what they do. Therefore, when choosing a clinic, make sure their treatment plan matches your exact needs.
Make plans and arrangements
Once you have chosen the right rehab center, you’ve already set yourself up for success. Now, all it takes is some preparation and you’ll be on your way to wellness.
For the most part, this step includes:
- Getting the necessary paperwork. Rehab will require you to take some time off of work or school. Having documents in order ensures there’s no confusion or repercussions.
- Contacting your insurance provider to determine the extent of coverage. The exact amount varies from provider to provider. However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) insurance companies must provide some form of coverage for SUD treatment.
- Making travel arrangements. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Still, it never hurts to detail it out a bit, even if you’re only traveling a short distance.
- Preparing things that you’ll need while in treatment. In general, every rehab clinic has a strict policy about what you can and can’t bring. So, make sure to check with them to avoid surprises.
This sub-step will take some footwork on your part. But, if you ever hit a snag or don’t know what to do next, don’t hesitate to contact your clinic. Remember, now you have a team that has your back. They are here to guide you on a journey to long term sobriety and a bright future. And that entails helping you every step of the way.
4th step: Taking action
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
Enrolling in rehab is a massive step forward. It is where the true battle against addiction begins. For the most part, it happens through a combination of:
The primary goal of rehab is to help the person to stop using. However, it is not its sole purpose. It is more than suppressing withdrawal symptoms or an endless “drugs bad” tirade. Rather, it is about cutting the problem down at its root. This means going deep and finding an underlying cause that led to addiction.
We know how this may look and sound scary. However, now it is you who has the upper hand! You have a dedicated team by your side. They are bringing an entire arsenal of knowledge and methods that will help you win this battle. And, not only win it – but ensure you never have to fight it again.
While we could leave it at that, we know that even at this point, rehab sounds intimidating. Therefore, we’ll give you a closer look at how the process works. By the end of this chapter, you’ll see there’s nothing to be afraid of. Quite the opposite!
Medical evaluation is an integral part of the admission process. After a short Q&A, clinical staff will do the initial assessment. This allows them to determine:
- Which of the 5 levels of care a person needs;
- What is the best course of action;
- How to adapt their treatment to suit the individual.
For a patient, this entire process lasts about 15 – 30 minutes. After that, a person moves on to the next rehab phase.
Detox is widely considered to be the most difficult part of rehab. Regardless of how severe the addiction is, withdrawal is never pleasant. This is why the patient is under constant supervision throughout this phase. Clinical staff will remain by the person’s side 24/7 to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. If needed, they may include medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. The length of the initial detox treatment varies from person to person. In most cases, it takes anywhere from 3 – 10 days. Again, this heavily depends on the addiction severity.
Now we come to the bread and butter of recovery. Counseling is where most of the journey to long term sobriety and bright future happens. Or, rather, the most important part of the journey.
At this stage, a person will undergo various therapy sessions, such as:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT);
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT);
- Dual Diagnosis Therapy;
- Holistic Therapy;
- Trauma Therapy;
- Group Therapy.
However, rehab is not just an endless parade of therapists and sitting in sessions. That would get so tiresome, even after a short while. That’s why most clinics use a host of fun activities to boost the recovery process. Although therapeutic in nature, these relaxing pastimes play a crucial role in the big picture. With them, a person learns that sobriety isn’t only healthy – but extremely fun, too.
5th step: Maintaining sobriety and avoiding relapse
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
After a successful rehab, you’ll have all the skills and tools necessary to go back to a normal life. However, due to the chronic nature of addiction, it will take some more work to achieve lasting sobriety. This is the lengthiest part of the journey. Maintaining sobriety and avoiding relapse demands motivation and hard work. But, above all, it requires self-discipline, mindfulness, and a good plan.
It sounds like a lot of effort. And, it is. However, you’ve already past a critical point. And, if you could do that – you can do anything. Especially when you know that it will get easier as you persist.
An Aftercare program can help you on the journey to long term sobriety and bright future
Going from rehab to normal life is a major change. As such, it is easy for a person to feel overwhelmed. Especially so if their addiction was severe or lasted for a long time. But, that’s why Aftercare programs exist. They are quite versatile and may include an array of helpful activities, such as:
- Providing ongoing treatment if needed, usually through an Outpatient Program;
- Helping a person connect with their peers through Alumni programs or self-help groups;
- Making arrangements for a stay in a sober living house;
- Help with reintegration into society;
- Help with job hunting or legal advice.
Opting for an Aftercare plan is an excellent way to make the transition period easier. It is a way to give yourself a head start toward a healthy life and reduce the chance of relapse by quite the margin.
Structure your life
Living with addiction is often defined by chaos and disorder. The best way to counter it? That’s right – with structure. Therefore, the first thing you should do when you’re fresh out of rehab is:
- Develop a structured schedule and daily patterns;
- Set short and long-term goals.
Needless to say, sobriety should always remain the top priority. A bit of planning will help you achieve that goal without sacrificing basic needs and responsibilities.
On the flip side, one of the greatest upsides of having a plan is that you can use it as an early relapse warning sign. Whenever it starts getting messy, overwhelming, or piled up, it should immediately raise a red flag. It’s a telltale sign that something is wrong or that you’re slipping (back) into harmful routines and habits. Which brings us to the next point.
Be mindful of old routines and habits
Staying clean is hard work. It takes a lot of willpower and effort to prevent relapse. That is why falling back to old habits can feel so comfortable and natural. However, it is exactly what you must avoid. After all, if you keep hanging at the same spots, with the same people – then nothing really changed.
Choose healthy relationships and discard toxic ones
The social component is one of the main reasons people develop an addiction. But, it can also be the main driver behind the relapse. To avoid it, you’ll have to create a healthy, supportive environment. And, that often entails making a drastic change in your social circles.
You’ll have to look back at your past relationships. Analyze them in-depth. Identify toxic from healthy ones. And, then, separate the wheat from the chaff. Surround yourself with people that will support you and help you grow. Distance yourself from those that will hinder your efforts toward a better, sober life. Cutting those ties is probably the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. But, it is essential if you want to make a full recovery.
Addiction affects not only a person but all those in their life. It creates discord, followed by pain and heartache. Even so, things broken aren’t lost. There’s still a way to pick up the pieces and rebuild them into something even stronger and lasting.
That said, you may feel guilty or ashamed of something you’ve said or done. It is perfectly normal to feel this way. In fact, it is healthy. It means addiction no longer has a hold over you. It means you’ve grown and learned from past mistakes.
Still, it is imperative to act upon these feelings and not suppress or bottle them up. And, we won’t lie – it is a difficult process. It can take a long time and involve family therapy to get it going. But, in the end, it will lead to something beyond wonderful: knowing that you belong and that someone is always in your corner.
Keep attending meetings and support groups
This is the most common advice pros give out to those fresh out of rehab. And reasonably so – it works. 12-step programs, support groups, and alumni meetings go a long way to help a person stay on the right track. Being surrounded by those who went through the same tribulations as you create a feeling of camaraderie and togetherness. And mutual support is an amazing boost to motivation. Not to mention, a great way to pick up some life hacks that will help you on the journey to long term sobriety and bright future.
Learn to recognize your triggers and warning signs of relapse
Same as addiction, relapse doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is a subtle process. It starts long before you pick up a drink or start using again. Therefore, it is imperative to know what relapse warning signs are as well as what causes them.
Relapse warning signs can be emotional, mental, and physical and may include:
- Ignoring new routines or slipping back into the old ones;
- Returning to destructive thinking or behavior patterns;
- Seeking out and hanging with people who are drinking or using;
- Isolating yourself from social contacts and situations, including your support group;
- Finding unhealthy ways to cope with stress (e.g. drugs or alcohol).
Needless to say, finding yourself in these criteria means you’re on a downward spiral. Even so, not all is lost. This is but a bump in the road and you can overcome it. If you notice some of these signs, turn to professionals or your support group for help ASAP.
On the flip side, one of the best ways to prevent relapse is to learn what triggers it. Relapse triggers can be anything that makes you think of using again:
- External triggers: people, places, things, environments, situations;
- Internal triggers: emotions, unhealthy thinking patterns.
Triggers vary from person to person. For some, it is a stressful situation at home. For others, financial trouble. It is completely individual. Therefore, learn what triggers you and you’ll reduce the chance of relapse drastically.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
The journey to a long term sobriety and bright future is more than just avoiding relapse. It is about changing your lifestyle to reflect your goal. The best way to do it is with:
- Regular exercise;
- Getting enough quality sleep;
- Eating healthy, balanced meals;
- Engaging in a hobby or other recreational activities;
- Practicing relaxation strategies, such as Yoga or meditation.
Doing this helps relieve stress, boost the mood, and minimize cravings. Also, it will help you feel more energetic, relaxed, and motivated.
Certain points of recovery have incredible significance. And it is important to acknowledge and celebrate them. However, it is also important to know what you’re celebrating.
Celebrating milestones is not simply marking the passing of time. It is much, much more. It is a celebration of your dedication, willpower, and discipline. And acknowledging that is an amazing motivator to keep pushing forward.
6th step: Full recovery
The very last step on the journey to long term sobriety and bright future is a full recovery (a.k.a. Termination stage). At this point, you’ll be able to control yourself so well, that even the thought of using will become foreign. You’ll feel comfortable in your own skin. You’ll be confident about what you’re doing and the choices you make. But, most importantly, you’ll know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you deserve a life of happiness and wellness. So don’t be afraid. Don’t hesitate. Take that first step toward recovery and embrace your bright future.