The objective of this article is to acquaint readers with the factors that make for clean and sober goal achievement in substance abuse recovery.
By: Susan Adams, M. Ed.
Summary: It is possible for people with alcohol and drug problems to maintain a clean and sober life style without experiencing a relapse-or, to stay clean and sober following a relapse. Certain factors determine this success. This article describes these factors.
It would seem logical to state that the more severe the addiction history, the more difficult it is for people to maintain long-term abstinence. However, the research has found that the more problems that have been incurred by users of either alcohol or drugs, the more likely these people are to achieve abstinence over time. It is the people who don’t perceive that their problem is serious who are more apt to relapse frequently.
The abstainers seem to have a history of earlier onset of alcoholism and/or drug abuse than the non-abstainers, and also to have been dependent on the substance as opposed to abusing the substance. Further, the research generally tells us that men who have become abstinent tend to experience a number of medical, legal, or social consequences as a result of chemical use.
Completing treatment for addiction is also related to successful recovery. One of the ways to measure successful addiction treatment is to assess the severity of the triggers the individual experiences at the beginning of treatment and then again at the end.
Another factor of great importance in recovery is the continued participation in recovery activities. Such activities involve formal long-term other forms of self-help. It is the surrounding one’s self with other people who are aiming at the same goals of abstinence, supporting each other, and finding replacement tools for the alcohol and drugs that helps the movement toward recovery. This is the step that talks about changing friends and activities that is so important in maintaining abstinence. It not only aids in the support of building new habits, it also cuts down on the triggers to old behaviors.
Motivation for recovery plays a large role. It is established that an important aspect of recovery prognosis is to evaluate the person’s level of motivation and ability to cope with high risk situations. Motivation for recovery can be tracked back to external pressure from others or internal pressure from self. Of course we know that internal motivation is more effective.
It is also possible to enhance motivation through treatment by educating participants in the effects of substance abuse and by increasing coping skills once the substance has been stopped. Treatment facilities that are in-patient now have intense exercise programs. Outpatient programs certainly recommend exercise in conjunction with abstinence. In-patient facilities can exert more control over a person’s life thus helping him or her to abstain more easily until new habits can be built. The exercise helps increase the chemicals in the brain that create optimism which helps the participant to resist the urge for substances. The success is likely to build on the success, making a positive treatment milieu. Success builds optimism and optimism builds success. Therefore, a strong force in successful recovery is association with others in many ways, who are striving for the same goals.