Common Mistakes that Recovering Addicts Make

February 7, 2013

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Recovering Addicts

Recovering Addicts

No one expects recovering addicts to “ace” their rehabilitation, scoring straight A’s across the boards. Rehab doesn’t work that way. If they were acing life, they wouldn’t be struggling with addiction. If they were a howling success in all facets of existence, they wouldn’t be using drugs to escape from reality. When a person shows up on the doorstep at rehab, we get everything: the bad, “evil” stuff; the heartache; the baggage they’ve been carrying for years; and, the inherent goodness of the individual.

With that in mind, it would be useful to know what mistakes recovering addicts make that could lead to relapse. In the field of drug rehabilitation, we are alternately blessed and cursed with 20/20 hindsight.

We know what the mistakes are because we’ve seen people make them. Here then are some of the common ones:

  • “Friends” who encourage drug use. This is the old crowd who hands you the bottle when they know you’re on the wagon. They carry the bag of pills. They are found at the crack house. They’ve got all the connections and they can score you anything. If one is serious about rehabilitation, steering clear of this gang is invariably part of the equation. If someone is your friend, they certainly wouldn’t encourage using when they are well aware that you are in recovery.
  • Places. Any former user knows where their old friends hang out. All they have to do is go to those places and they’ll find them. So, an effective relapse prevention plan includes avoiding those locations.Recovering Addicts Later on, when a person is a veteran at living clean, perhaps none of these people or places will faze him or her, but in the early stages of recovery, why chance it? Best answer is “don’t go there.”
  • No goals in life. Nothing fuels addiction quite like having no direction in which to channel one’s efforts. The addiction itself contributes to the “no direction” mindset. Once starting down a path of rehabilitation, recovering addicts or alcoholics should set a course in life. Working towards life goals means following a path of discipline, making steady progress towards one’s destination. These can be goals for one’s career or family, and can also take the form of hobbies or other interests, such as fitness, martial arts, fine arts, music, the humanities – the possibilities are endless.
  • Boredom. The factor of overcoming boredom goes hand-in-hand with setting and following goals, but deserves special mention. Boredom can be insidious and take many forms. Some people settle for mediocrity when they are capable of so much more. They find themselves with “nothing to do” and may gradually – or suddenly – slip back into old patterns. Stories from addicts include wandering the streets all night with friends and a bag of OxyContin for lack of anything better to do. Overcoming boredom is different for each person but could include booking up your schedule with things you like doing that are not hazardous to your health or state of mind.
  • Dishonesty. The word alone is loaded indeed, but in this context, it is very simple. When someone enters rehab, they have to approach it with the right attitude. If they are just “going through the motions” to appease their family, they won’t get all they can out of it. If they approach it with the attitude that – at the end of the day – they must answer to themselves, they would have the right idea. In holistic rehab, one learns life skills to deal with the problems that led drug use and addiction. Honesty, simply stated, means being true to yourself.
  • Lack of support network. People need real friends, and a recovering addict needs them more than most. When someone gets to a dark place, they need contacts that are on call literally 24/7, rain or shine. Often it is family, but in lieu of that, it is close friends. It can also be members of the rehab relapse prevention team. The most important point is that these are people the recovering addict has faith in. Especially during the Holidays, the contact network must be up and running.
  • Failure to adjust lifestyle. An addict or alcoholic has been abusing the body, clouding the mind, and weakening the spirit. Holistic recovery addresses all these factors as relates to that individual. Detoxification, replenishing vitamins, and minerals that have been depleted, dealing with root causes – all these and many more steps are all part of holistic recovery. As a person progress through these steps, they start to see where they can maintain healthy practices. Let’s say, post rehab, a person gets going on their new life goals, but in the process, they are in a hurry all the time and eating mostly cheap convenience store food or fast food.  They may not even realize it but they are depriving their body of nutrients – essentially starving themselves. They may find themselves suddenly drained of all energy or even get sick, opening the door to drug use to solve an immediate problem. It is important for the recovering addict to cover their bases and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In holistic rehabilitation, recovering addicts are treated as an individual. Every graduate’s relapse prevention program is individually tailored for them. Ideally, the graduate and the staff work together to reduce the chances of relapse to as close to zero as possible.

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