If you have committed to getting help with your alcohol or substance abuse and are receiving professional treatment, you will soon begin a period of rehabilitation called early abstinence or early sobriety.
The hardest part of trying to recover from alcohol and drug problems comes at this stage, when a number of problems make it difficult to focus on living a sober life and trying to stay clean and sober, to make a fight. It is the second of four stages of recovery, or rehab, defined by the National Institute on Substance Abuse:
- Start treatment
- Early abstinence
- Maintaining abstinence
- Advanced recovery
If you’ve entered a specialized alcohol and drug treatment facility or are receiving professional help from a doctor’s office or ambulance, work with trained addiction specialists, which may include counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and social workers.
In the early abstinence phase of your treatment, they will help you understand the medical and psychological aspects of alcohol and drug withdrawal, identify triggers that prompt you to use drugs or alcohol, develop and learn techniques to avoid triggers, with food cravings to deal with.
Listed below are some of the issues your counselor may want to help you with during the early stage of abstinence in recovery:
Addiction and related symptoms
If you have sought help to stop drinking or use drugs, you have likely developed some level of chemical addiction or dependence on the drug of your choice. Your counselor will help you identify behaviors that can be classified as addicting, such as: B. How much time and effort you put into tracking your medicine and how you will continue to use it despite the negative consequences.
Your counselor will also discuss the health effects your substance abuse and withdrawal can cause. For example, if you have been an intravenous drug user, your counselor will try to determine whether you have engaged in other high-risk behaviors and whether you may have contracted the HIV virus.
As with all of these treatment problems, the goal of the counselor is to educate you about the risks and dangers so that you can begin making healthier choices in your life.
It is likely that during your days of substance abuse, you associated your alcohol or drug use with specific people, places, and things. Maybe you always stopped at the same bar or just used drugs around certain people. You may have had a favorite glass that you drank from or a favorite crack pipe. All of these can be triggers that can lead to relapse.
It is absolutely important to your continued abstinence that you avoid the triggers and other high risk situations. Your counselor will help you identify the people, places, and things that you associate with your drug use and help you develop strategies to avoid these triggers.
The case officer or advisor will also help you develop alternative responses to high risk situations when they arise, such as: E.g. if someone offers you drugs or is in social situations where alcohol is served.
Fill the time
If you’re looking for help with an alcohol or drug problem, chances are you’ve spent a lot of time with the drug of your choice. One of the addiction symptoms is the amount of time drug use takes in the life of the user.
Many addicts organize their entire day to maintain, administer, and recover from the effects of their drug.
Once you stop using it there is a gap in your daily schedule and / or a sense of loss. You may be used to a daily schedule that is chaotic and disorganized due to your drug tracking. You may find it difficult to imagine what you will do now when you stop using drugs.
Your counselor will work with you to develop a daily or weekly plan that will help you structure your time and replace your drug discovery and use activities with healthy alternatives. Order and structure can help reduce the risk of relapse.
Desire and relapse
Not everyone experiences food cravings during early abstinence, but it can get overwhelming for those who do. Cravings are strong urges to return to drinking or using drugs. The cravings can be both physical and psychological, so you can become obsessed with thinking about reusing it.
The counselor will help you recognize what desire feels like and learn that it is temporary and goes away. More importantly, your advisor is trying to show you that a choice is yours. You can choose to “suspend” the desire. You don’t have to be self-harming to the urge.
The longer you stay abstinent, the less cravings you will experience and the less intense they will become. But if you give in to the urge, they will stay strong.
For many alcoholics and addicts, their entire social life revolves around their drinking pals or drug-using friends. After you recover, you may find that most, if not all of your friends were other alcoholics or addicts. These “friends” can put tremendous pressure on you to relapse.
They may not want you to recover because if they accept that you are an alcoholic or an addict, it means they probably are, too. As a result, they can openly or subtly try to sabotage your recovery.
Your counselor will strongly encourage you to avoid your old friends at all costs during early abstinence. You are encouraged to make new, sober friends. You are also encouraged to join support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous where you can build positive relationships with drug-free and recovering people.
Symptoms after acute withdrawal
The physical withdrawal symptoms from quitting alcohol and drugs go away in a relatively short period of time, usually less than a week. But many alcoholics and addicts will experience long-lasting changes in mood, affect, and memory during early abstinence. Symptoms can include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and memory loss. These symptoms are known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
If you develop any of these symptoms during your treatment, your counselor will try to show you that these are the result of your alcohol or drug use and are not independent, fundamental problems. You will find that these symptoms cannot be treated by yourself and will only get worse as you continue to use drugs. And like cravings, they too will pass.
Use of other drugs
You can decide that you are really only dependent on the drug of your choice, although you will often use another drug or drugs as well. For example, if you have used cocaine, you may not consider your alcohol use to be a problem. Or, if you’ve been a problem drinker, you may consider smoking marijuana to be less harmful.
During your treatment, your counselor will encourage you to achieve complete abstinence. Here are the reasons why complete abstinence is critical to your recovery:
- Other drugs, such as alcohol, can induce cravings for the drug of your choice.
- You could transfer your addiction from one drug to another.
- If you keep using you will not learn how to use it without mood altering aids.
While your current use of other medications may not be a problem at this time, if continued they can quickly become a substitute for the medication of your choice.
Coming through early abstinence
This stage of recovery is not easy, which is why few manage to reach it without help. When you take part in a professional treatment program, you will receive the support and encouragement you need to go about it. You will set and achieve goals that are necessary for your continued recovery.
Your counselor will help you establish a drug-free lifestyle by participating in support groups. Avoidance of social contact with drug-using friends; Avoid high risk situations and triggers and replace your previous drug-related efforts with healthy leisure activities.
You are given the tools you need to live a clean and sober life.
Return to the four stages of recovery