Studies indicate that long-term success is achieved by a significant number of people who enroll in drug-rehab, but that it requires sustained effort in order to achieve success. Additionally, many who enroll in rehab return to substance abuse 1 to 10 years later.
What can be done to make a success of efforts to improve one's prospect of sustained success in breaking free from substance abuse?
- Studies indicate that those who have the greatest chances for success are total abstainers from alcohol. Those who feel that they can have a drink now and then, or even drink socially on a regular basis, usually do not stay sober. Realize that for success in drug or alcohol addition recovery, with or without rehab, commitment to total lifetime abstinence is mandatory, rather than optional. Anyone who isn’t willing to make that commitment up front, might as well not enroll in rehab. This can also be said of those who have bipolar disorder
, major depression
and many other mental health disorders. Alcohol use can create a chain of elation and depression, which makes the use of alcohol all the more attractive and addictive. The same can be said of illegal drug use or prescription drug abuse.
- Learn to be totally honest and transparent. At the same time, one recommendation is, “don’t accept” or dwell on “the label”. There is no reason to tell everyone you meet that you are an alcoholic, as if that defines who you are. You are a multifaceted individual with many strengths and weaknesses. Having a substance abuse addiction is only one aspect of your personality. It is a weakness that can become a strength if you work hard enough at it.
At the same time, when going into rehab, or when confronting one’s own struggle with substance abuse, we may have engaged in many years or even a lifetime of lying, to cover up, to shift the blame, or to procure resources for our dependencies. Learning to be honest can be more challenging than it sounds. But it is also a necessary part of recovery.
Those who are most successful are those who can learn to be totally honest with themselves and others. Realize that covering up through lies often gets own deeper into the hole than out of it. So be candid, honest, with counselors
or any other professionals, family, and yourself. Let God know exactly where you are at, what you’ve done, the help you need from Him, and his help in forgiveness, both forgiveness from God,
and to learn to forgive yourself.
3. Be humble
- Realize that life is not all or nothing. We all make mistakes, some of our mistakes are our own fault, some of us were steered in the wrong direction with little help otherwise from our infancy on. Sometimes we pay for the mistakes of others, as in the case of any type of abuse
, and the psychological issues and situations that result. Humbly admitting our own errors, and also realizing that no one is totally bad nor perfect by any means, can help us have a realistic evaluation of ourselves. No one is really a superstar, nor is anyone a total slug. Alcohol and drugs tends to make us feel like we are invincible, give us a false sense of self-importance, make us feel like we are on the top of the heights. When we are down, we are searching for that same euphoria, which is unattainable without the substance. Realizing that life is mostly common, without high pinnacles of success, and without seeking out self-aggrandizing goals, setting realistic goals, can be of value in keeping us sober or drug-free.
4. Be determined
- Realize that what you might not be able to achieve you can achieve with help from others, your own will, and newly learned coping skills. Realizing that “All things are possible with God,” help us have a positive mental attitude, realizing that with God's help we can overcome substance abuse or break any bad habit or lifestyle. Also, if we have a setback, it doesn’t mean that we have to give up. Get help when that occurs. Look for forgiveness, but don’t give up. Perfection isn’t the goal, rather, endurance. You might have some setbacks, but it doesn’t mean that it is all over. To be totally drug and alcohol free is a wonderful goal that you have to work hard towards.
5. Become an expert
- study up on the effects of alcohol, what it can do to your body and brain.
Also, become a reader. Reading is mentally challenging, it is less passive than television and a better way of developing mental strength and tenacity.
6. Realize that rehab will not last forever
- Whether it is for a week, a month or a year, the time will come when the eaglet will leave the protective nest out into the real world. No one may be around to lend a hand. Learn to rely on God, and on people who care and will give you good advice. Realize that your life does matter to yourself, God and others. What we do in a positive way often has a ripple effect on others lives. Some former gang members become speakers in schools or elsewhere, advocates for children and teens
, as an example. So what you do and the success you have can help others.
- Change your circle of friends when getting out of rehab
don't hang out where alcohol is available. Don't think you can associate with former friends who might be involved with drugs or dealing, or that you can go to a bar, hang out, and stay free from alcohol
. That is self-deception, 99.9%, you will go back to drinking and drugging. You need to find a new set of friends and stay away from situations that lead you to drinking and taking drugs.
- Be determined to quit smoking - One addiction lends itself to another. Quitting smoking is a positive step in the goal of being drug and alcohol free. Breaking the chain of tobacco addiction helps in breaking the chain of drug addiction. Nicotine is a drug. It adds to the way of thinking that contributes to other types of addiction and holds hands with drug and alcohol addiction. Breaking free from addiction to cigarettes can be of value in breaking from drug and alcohol addiction as well.
9. Spiritual help
- Pray for God’s help. Pray regularly, daily. In the morning, going on one’s knees and asking for God’s help, at night, thanking God for helping you. Pray for others. This helps one not to be self-absorbed. Take an active interest in other people. Read the Bible
regularly, daily, read Jesus’ words regularly. Jesus’ words in the Bible are compassionate, but strong. He leaves no room for doubt as to what is right and wrong. Reading the Bible can give comfort
10. Engage in proactive activities
- Use some of your time to give to others, to help others. This gives one a sense of worth. If there is some volunteer work helping needy individuals or children in some way, this can help one find happiness in giving. It gives one a purpose in life, which is an essential psychological, emotional and spiritual need.
11. Find ways to cope with stress
- Exercise is a great way to burn of stress. Brisk walking on a daily basis helps depression
, and helps one to be positive. It is physically helpful, and contributes to a sense of well-being. Engaging in artwork
, helps one to focus one’s mind over a sustained period of time. It eats away from vacant hours and boredom. It can help one to have a healthy sense of self, and to build self-esteem. Seeing what one has accomplished, can give one tangible evidence of one’s worth.
12. Keep a journal
to vent, to keep one’s mind organized, to help to organize one’s life in a practical way. Also, it can help one see where what might have led to a slip-up, what situation(s) contributed to a relapse, and in a positive way, what worked.
13. Keep your mind active
- Become a voracious reader. Read positive material. Try not to spend all of your free time watching TV
or going to or renting movies
. These are passive activities. While they might engage the mind for those few hours, the passive nature makes one technological dependent on outside stimuli. One needs to find build a number of positive activities and new lifeskills, hobbies, etc, to develop one’s mind and talents, in order to grow. TV lends itself to depression
, which can be part of the chain of dependence on alcohol through self-medicating. Reading takes more mental strength, and is a better mental exercise, and that extra strength can serve to help one to develop more self-control.
14. Avoid prescription drug remedies
- There might be a link between prescription drug use, and a higher use of abuse of drugs and alcohol altogether, so try to avoid relying on prescription drugs, pain killers, or even antidepressants
. Developing lifeskills, coping skills is a better way of improving one’s situation. Fighting one’s way out of the cocoon makes for a better long-term solution than looking to a pharmaceutical solution to even mental health problems.
15. Engage in activities that build self esteem
- Realize that you have value to others, and to God. If there is a pinpoint of good in us, God can make that grow, if you keep working at it.
Selecting the Right Drug and Alcohol Rehab
- 10 Questions and Answers
by drug and alcohol counselor Bill Urrell
S. Maisto, P. Clifford, & J. S. Tonigan. Initial and Long-Term Alcohol Treatment Success: 10-Year Study
of the Project MATCH Albuquerque Sample,
Clinical Research Branch. Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), University of New Mexico
Pages Related to Alcohol Rehab Success
in substance abuse treatment (especially for adolescents).
Alcohol, Drug Recovery and Depression
Two more memoirs on drug and alcohol recovery
Everything I Never Wanted to Be: A Memoir of Alcoholism and Addiction, Faith and Family, Hope and Humor
, by Dina Kucera
The Book of Drugs: A Memoir
, by Mike Doughty