Maintaining Sobriety After Inpatient Stay at Drug Rehab
Congratulations. You’ve completed your inpatient stay at a drug and alcohol rehab facility. It’s tough to do, so well done. Chances are you look and feel healthy. Your family is proud of your achievements and love seeing you restored. But, after the program finishes, we hear you asking — now what?
Within the recovery community, there is an unfortunate trend amongst participants called the “I’ll take it from here” (ITIFH) syndrome. ITIFH is abundant as participants begin to leave rehab. Without paying close attention to these feelings, it’s possible to increase the risk of relapse.
Relapsing After Rehab
Men and women who leave recovery aren’t too dissimilar to children. Children have explorative minds and sometimes a false sense of confidence. As you teach them how to play baseball, ride a bike, or complete complex math problems you can see they sometimes default to the opinion that they already know what they are doing and require little supervision. Similarly, participants leaving recovery try to run before they can walk.
Unfortunately, you can’t hurry the recovery process.
Both faith and secular based drug and alcohol rehab programs have relapse numbers. Faith-based statistically is shown to have fewer relapses than others, but it still happens. Why?
Over the years, working at Stones River Recovery, I have noticed some participants believe that once they are sober, they are done. No other effort is required. The truth is sobriety needs nurturing. Relapse is subjective. There are a hundred different possibilities for relapse that vary from person-to-person. But, fortunately, some tell-tale signs can help you or a loved one who is leaving recovery.
Red Flags That Can Lead to Relapse
Here’s a quick rundown of some red flags that could lead to relapse.
Characterized by suppressing emotions, becoming more isolated, missing church/meetings, blaming others, and developing poor recovery habits.
Associated with experiencing cravings, thinking about triggers, glamorizing substances abuse, lying, and planning for relapse.
Involves slipping and relapsing into an obsession with substance and compulsive desires to drink.
The red flags are indicators that something larger is happening. Below, I’ve outlined some false positives that have crossed the path of those who have left Stones River Recovery. Hopefully the details will help further identify the path to relapse.
1. They think they can moderate their drug/alcohol use.
Some participants believe they can leave rehab and continue to use in moderation. The truth is, you can’t. Many individuals enter rehab because they struggled to stop. It was never one pill or one drink. It’s imperative to accept the new normal includes no consumption of drugs or alcohol.
2. They want to spend time with their friends who use intoxicants.
Not all friends are created equal. Some friends genuinely care about your health and wellbeing. They encourage you to be and live your best life. Others do not. Have you heard the saying, “misery likes company?” The same applies here. Friends who abuse intoxicants aren’t going to look out for your needs. Instead, they might encourage you to join them.
3. They don’t believe the problem was substance.
Sadly, this thought process is one of the most common with those who are leaving rehab. For active users or those attempting to shed addiction, this frame of mind can be dangerous. Sooner or later, whatever they are using to substitute one addiction for another will eventually funnel them right back to square one.
4. They think they can spend time with the same people and the same places.
Stop hanging around the barbershop because you will get a haircut! The more time you spend in a location with other users, the more you increase the chances of using substances again.
5. They don’t need to be held accountable.
Users need to be transparent. As I previously mentioned, it’s not uncommon for participants to have ITIFH syndrome. They think they can meander through life without the support of others. Letting your friends and family know your plans and how you are going to spend your day is helpful. It lets them know you are making righteous decisions, and they can help you stay away from dangerous environments.
6. They don’t have to get involved.
Again, you don’t have to do this alone. Spending time with others and giving the gift of self helps us connect to His love. How you get involved depends on you. Volunteer to help the community. Do yard work, paint, get involved in ministry, or support your local homeless shelter. Whatever you choose to do, let others hear your testimony. Those that may find themselves in bondage to addiction want hope. Your story could change someone’s life.
7. They ignore the truth of the Good Book.
Seemingly light objects become cumbersome when you attach negative feelings and emotions to it. I have found that one of the top reasons for the weight of the Good Book is the heaviness of truth. But, the most liberating moment is when you get into the Word of God and come to understand His promises. Finding this truth has its challenges. Again, you don’t have to do it alone. Join a small church group. Be part of something that doesn’t give you any earthly gain, something selfless, something Christ-like.
A scripture that I would like to use in closing is one that paints a vivid picture for those in recovery and for those who may have relapsed and are giving recovery another go.
1 Peter 5:8- Be sober-minded and be vigilant for your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
Emilio J Rodriguez
Stones River Recovery, VP