If you’ve sought professional treatment for your drug or alcohol problem and managed to achieve abstinence for about three months, you have likely entered the third phase of rehab or recovery known as abstinence maintenance.
If you’ve been clean and sober for 90 days, now is the time to start using the tools you learned into early abstinence to maintain your sobriety and prevent relapses. Maintaining abstinence is the third of four stages of recovery or rehab defined by the National Institute on Substance Abuse:
- Start treatment
- Early abstinence
- Maintaining abstinence
- Advanced recovery
Continue the lifestyle
After 90 days you will probably no longer be in the inpatient rehab facility if you were treated as an inpatient and have entered the follow-up or continuation phase of your rehab. Although you will still be in regular contact with your counselor and attend support group meetings, it’s basically up to you to keep your recovery going.
To maintain abstinence, it is important that you:
- Avoid environmental triggers.
- Recognize your own psychosocial and emotional triggers.
- Develop healthy behaviors to deal with life’s stresses.
Vigilance against relapse
People get into trouble when they give up their vigilance after their success in early abstinence. It is important that you do not take your sobriety for granted and realize the power of your addiction. Maintaining a recreational mindset is vital.
It is also important that you continue with your counseling sessions, join support groups, and remain honest with yourself and others about your feelings and thoughts.
Changes in attitudes, feelings, and behavior can quickly lead to relapse.
Recognizing the relapse process
Relapse doesn’t start when you pick up a drink or drug. It is a gradual process marked by negative changes in your attitudes, feelings, and behaviors. Your follow-up counselor will work with you to help you identify these warning signs and develop a plan to change direction if you are on the path to relapse.
Research has shown that before you relapse into alcohol or drugs, there are a number of warning signs or steps you can identify and therefore avoid. Your counselor will help you identify the different steps or stages in your own life that occur before a full relapse.
Develop a healthy plan
If you stick to professional rehab aftercare counseling, your counselor will attempt to help you identify situations in your life where you may begin to deviate from your plan for healthy recovery. More importantly, however, they help you make specific behavior changes that will pull you out of the relapse process.
Some of the areas that your ongoing nursing advice will cover include the following. Each of these articles explains why these steps are important to your recovery and how you can achieve these goals:
- Healthy relationships
- Developing a drug-free lifestyle
- Manage anger
- Exercise and diet
- Employment and money management
- Replace addiction
If you’re on the downward spiral, do something else! Attend additional support group meetings, spend time with others who are helping your recovery, maintain a healthy structure in your life, make sure you are in a drug-free environment, and avoid external triggers. Take positive action to resolve relationship, personal, or professional problems that are causing stress.