After treatment, you may feel very vulnerable and a bit anxious about succeeding in recovery without the support of your structured rehab program. Quality rehab treatment programs understand this and provide aftercare services through their alumni programs. To learn more about why you should be involved in your rehab’s alumni program, you might want to get a better understanding of the causes of relapse, get insights into some of the challenges of early sobriety, and learn how rehab alumni programs can help prevent relapse and help you overcome some of these early challenges.
Causes of Relapse
The first several months of recovery are often high-risk times regarding the potential for relapse. In the post, “Why Did I Relapse?” the author, an addiction specialist, points out key causes of relapse including the following:
- Stress – Everyone experiences stress and everyone needs healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. However, recovering addicts need to be even more aware of their stress levels because they previously turned to drugs or alcohol to manage the impact of stress. Some strategies that can enhance your overall wellness include improving your ability to rest and relax through mindfulness and relaxation training, managing your time more effectively so that you are not operating in panic mode, and increasing beneficial behaviors, such as moderate exercise and healthy eating habits.
- People or places connected to your former addictive life – Most addiction specialists will encourage you to avoid the people or places where you formerly used drugs. These people and places are key triggers that could impact your willpower to withstand use.
- Negative or challenging emotions – In the same way that stress can be harmful, having negative emotions such as guilt, doubt, fear, or challenging emotions such as uncertainty, ambiguity or anger can put you at risk of seeking self-medication again. Loneliness in particular must be guarded against because it often leads to recovering addicts rationalizing their desire to use when isolated from their support systems.
- Times of celebration – Most people see times of celebration as positive experiences but often those celebrations involve drugs and alcohol, which can put you at risk.
Participating in an alumni program gives you the opportunity to celebrate in a safe setting, engage with people and places that are not connected to your former life, and offer the chance to explore how others are effectively dealing with negative and challenging behaviors. All of which can help reduce stress and also reduce the potential for relapse.
Challenges of Early Sobriety
Early sobriety is often a time of increased instability and concern. In effect, you are just getting your sober feet underneath you and you want to avoid any stumbling blocks. In the post, “10 Things I Wish I Knew At The Beginning Of Sobriety,” you are advised to consider the following:
- Don’t expect that keeping your sobriety will always be easy; it won’t.
- Some people will not approve, understand or support your sobriety; avoid them.
- Keep a positive attitude and believe that it will always get better; it does.
- Losing touch with former drug-using acquaintances is not a loss.
- Know that asking for help is really a strength, not a weakness.
- Denial is powerful, but acceptance is more powerful.
- Be receptive to meeting new sober people.
- Complacency is dangerous. As the saying goes, “The first thing you put ahead of your sobriety will be the second thing you lose.”
- There’s no better high than a life you’re proud of.
- Sobriety will never be a regret.
Having a clear awareness of some of the causes of relapse and the challenges of early sobriety, you can look at how attending your rehab’s alumni program can help.
How Alumni Programs Can Help
Many quality rehab centers have alumni programs. The primary goal of an alumni program is to create a recovery community for alumni and their families. Within this community, alumni can learn how to be accountable and productive members of society. In addition, the alumni programs give recovering addicts a support system they can count on. Through social events, alumni can learn how to live in the moment and enjoy the many things that life has to offer.
These programs offer follow-up calls, exclusive event invitations, volunteer opportunities, toll-free 24-hour helplines as well as aftercare programs. The aim is to foster the concept that the quality of care you received during treatment will be continued in the alumni program.
Many alumni programs host monthly events that happen in locations near their residential facilities, which are usually free for any alumnus to attend. In addition, they organize volunteer events, attend and support other recovery community events, and conferences and participate in social activities such as study groups, yoga, medication, and more — all of which are free for alumni.
Alumni programs are often introduced to a person who is in treatment and are designed to be supportive in each person’s journey of recovery and do so in the ways that they need and appreciate so they get the most out of it.