The lifelong process of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction can be made easier with the right rehabilitation, peer support and relapse prevention plans.

Addiction recovery is illustrated by someone like Paul, who began smoking marijuana at the age of 15 before moving on to harder drugs. At 18, he began using heroin and went into his first detox at 19. He was in and out of treatment centers for many years. At The Recovery Village, Paul found a different approach that finally provided the right direction for his recovery. The focus on aftercare, sober living, and relapse prevention were emphasized in a way he had never experienced before. The professionals at The Recovery Village emphasized aftercare even from the start of the recovery process.

What Is the Recovery Process?

Many people who are considering rehabilitation wonder: What is the recovery process for drug and alcohol addiction? The process of recovery from addiction includes several, typical elements:

  • Detox: Drug detox and medical detox vary for each individual, depending on multiple factors. Some of these factors include the extent and duration of addiction as well as the type of substances used. Detox is simply the process of completely abstaining from drugs and alcohol and allowing those substances to leave the body.
  • Rehab: After completing medical detox, most clients enter some stage of rehab care. While some may enroll in a full-time residential program, others may enter less intensive levels of care like partial hospitalizationintensive outpatient and outpatient treatment. The drug rehab process includes a few predictable elements, such as medical and mental health treatments. Counseling and group counseling during addiction treatment are a typical element of rehabilitation.
  • Aftercare: Drug rehab aftercare programs are a crucial element of recovery. Aftercare can be provided in a halfway house or sober living facility. Mental health, accountability, and life coaching are often aspects of sobriety support. Before a client leaves treatment at The Recovery Village, case managers will meet with them to locate additional ongoing sources of support in their local communities, such as clinicians, physicians, and recovery groups.
  • Support: Recovery support is a vital part of the recovery process. Support can often be found in individual counseling and group therapy. Group support is especially important as people in addiction recovery reintegrate into work and home lives, creating a safe and encouraging environment for long-term sobriety.

Challenges in Early Recovery from Addiction

Once someone has decided to enter into treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, they will participate in the early stages of recovery, including detox and other medical treatments. As the physical effects of abstinence subside, it is likely that mental health will take a prevailing role in recovery. Some issues that can be challenging in early recovery include:

  • Proximity to environments of drug or alcohol use
  • Changing relationships that encouraged drug or alcohol use
  • Physical and mental coping strategies
  • Changing routines and habits

Early recovery is a vulnerable time as people undergo detox and begin sober living. There are several early recovery skills that may be vital for long-term success, such as:

  • Identifying triggers
  • Coping with triggers
  • Practicing relaxation and de-stressing techniques
  • Asking for help
  • Establishing routines
  • Engaging in self-care

Other important skills, like nutrition and finances, will likely be addressed in personal counseling. It is important for people in recovery to be patient during the journey. It takes time to change long-established personal habits and trends. Fortunately, treatment providers are present and available during the process of addiction recovery to assist and advise clients on their journey.

Why Support is Vital to the Recovery Process

The recovery process is aided by the support of medical professionals, mental health care providers, family, and friends. It is important to understand whether relationships with family members and friends are helpful or harmful to long-term sobriety. Peer support in addiction recovery has been proven to be highly effective. Finding people to connect with who can empathize and provide an example of recovery success is a source of hope and inspiration.

According to experts, peer support is nonprofessional, nonclinical and comes from people who have been through similar conditions and have achieved a higher level or duration of recovery. Recovery from drug addiction will require significant change. Rebuilding and rediscovering parts of life are natural stops on the journey to long-term sobriety. New patterns, balanced living and reengaging with people and elements of life all take time and can be a source of great joy on the road to recovery.

What Is a Relapse Prevention Plan?

According to an article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, there are multiple stages of relapse, including:

  • Emotional relapse
  • Mental relapse
  • Physical relapse

A relapse prevention plan is an important statement or set of action items that prevent alcohol or drug relapse. Because relapse is common, it is important that people in recovery have a strategy to avoid triggers that may lead to relapse. This strategy may be as simple as a set of statements or integrated personal habits that will help clients circumvent tempting circumstances.

How a Relapse Prevention Plan Helps You in Recovery

Addiction is a chronic condition, and people who struggle with substance abuse issues do so for a myriad of reasons. Coping with stress, anger, depression or co-occurring mental disorders are all common reasons that people turn to drugs or alcohol. It is vital that new behaviors are established when those issues present themselves. A relapse prevention plan is a powerful way to articulate what new patterns are replacing old ones. It is important to expect success and live in hope through addiction recovery.

If you or someone you know is ready to seek treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village has multiple locations and resources that can set you on a course for success. Reach out to a representative today for more information. 

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By – Joy Youell
Joy Youell is a writer and content developer with a background in educational research. Using sound pedagogical approaches and expert-backed methods, Joy has designed and delivered adult learning content, professional development, and company training materials for organizations. Read more
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Editor – Megan Hull
Megan Hull is a content specialist who edits, writes and ideates content to help people find recovery. Read more

Melemis, Steven M. “Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, September 2015. Accessed July 20, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.” July 2018. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Tracy, Kathlene, et al. “Benefits of peer support groups in the t[…]eatment of addiction.” Dove Medical Press, September 2016. Accessed July 20, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.