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The big question for many who enter drug or alcohol addiction treatment is “What’s next?” A lot of people starting their recovery journey wonder what happens after addiction treatment. The answer really depends on whether you’ve gained a sense of stability. 

After rehab, you’re going to need stability to further your recovery. Without stability, it will be harder to avoid relapse. While stability doesn’t guarantee you won’t relapse, it increases the likelihood that you’ll rebound after a return to substance use. Stability has many components, and there can be socioeconomic obstacles to finding it.

What Determines Success in Addiction Recovery?

A 2002 study published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs investigated the pathways to long-term recovery. They mined their analyses for common factors contributing to a successful recovery (when a person doesn’t return to substance use) and relapse. These factors most notably included social and community support as well as affiliation with 12-step programs or other forms of organized accountability, such as addiction treatment alumni groups.

The study involved distributing a pilot survey in collaboration with a Connecticut-based addiction treatment center. It was funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the Connecticut Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction. The survey explored long-term abstinence.

About 46% of respondents cited the escalating consequences of substance use as the most significant motivation to start and maintain recovery. Another 30% pointed to the support of peers, family and friends as the primary driver. The next most commonly cited factor was 12-step program memberships according to 26% of respondents. 

Fundamentals for a Successful Addiction Recovery

  • Readiness to Change
  • Belief in Self to ChangeA couple working out at the gym. Exercise is one of the best ways to create a routine that gives you the stability you need to abstain from substance abuse while in recovery from drug addiction or alcoholism.
  • Mental Wellness
  • Support 
  • Stability
  • Productivity

No major change can come without preparation to make the change. You have to be equipped mentally and otherwise. Part of being mentally equipped is believing in yourself. When you don’t believe it’s possible to curtail addiction, what you really don’t believe in is your own ability to control your own life. The inability to exercise self-control, however, is stemming from a legitimate mental illness, so you do need treatment for that addictive behavior. 

Nevertheless, anyone you keep in your life needs to be utterly supportive of what you’re doing. You have to eliminate variables too, which comes from a stable day-to-day and month-to-month life. Part of that stability can be sustained by making sure you’re productive with your time.

Support Systems For Substance Use Disorder

“Persons with substance use disorder (SUD) face a challenging road ahead in early recovery,” said Keith Farah, executive director at Praxis of Louisville by Landmark Recovery. “Many are in need of stable housing, employment, and the need to address medical issues ignored while in active addiction. All these challenges while having to learn to self-advocate and navigate each day without returning to substance use.”

Farah knows the ins and outs on an empirical level. He’s been in recovery personally for about a decade. He’s been working in the addiction treatment space for much of that time, too. He’s now pursuing his Master’s in counseling and human development.

The support systems Farah mentioned match the findings of extant research, including the aforementioned 2002 study. Recovery meetings for example, which include 12-step programs, increase the chances of sustained abstinence because support there comes from those who know the same experience.

Case management was another major consideration from Farah’s perspective. This service, offered by Landmark Recovery but not so consistently by 12-step programs, attends to practical needs. This kind of support addresses legal, housing and employment needs. Farah calls those facets of recovery “crucial” to developing stable pillars for one’ life.

X-factor Data on Stability in Recovery

The 2002 study found that 22% of those in recovery were primarily pushed to start and maintain recovery due to substance-related accidents, arrests or other legal trouble. Another 10% were mainly motivated by their own children or the birth of a child — needing to become responsible parents.

These are both elements of instability in one way or another. While bringing children into the world can be a beautiful thing, respondents were acknowledging that bringing children into high-risk circumstances or neglectful households would only endanger them. Stability for the user and those depending on the user are both difficult to establish.

These aren’t just factors of maintaining recovery for the survey respondents, though. It’s also reflecting what pushed them to start treatment in the first place. Farah noted that about 90% of people with SUD don’t get treatment due to a variety of barriers. He also pointed out that an equal proportion of those who complete treatment in any program but don’t have what he calls “an aftercare plan” resume using within 30 days of finishing the program in question.

The Value of Addiction Therapy

Farah emphasized the importance of therapy, too. Professional therapy makes a big difference in the long run. Cognitive behavioral therapy for example is a specific treatment modality that targets the root trauma beneath addictive behaviors. That’s the kind of targeted treatment that users need. 

“Most people with SUD have co-occurring mental health disorders as well as trauma that need to be addressed if they are to maintain sobriety,” Farah added. “Therapeutic services such as individual and group therapy are essential to the recovery of these individuals, who tend to self-medicate via substances without this support in place.”

If you suspect you might need any combination of professional detox with medical professionals, therapy from licensed experts and residential treatment, go to Landmark Recovery. You can call Landmark’s addiction specialists at 888.448.0302.