One of the biggest hurdles to recovering from an addiction or substance abuse disorder is that you can continue to experience symptoms long after your last use. Relapse is common during recovery, as 40%-60% of people recovering from addiction experience at least one relapse. A relapse occurs when you begin abusing drugs or alcohol after achieving a period of complete abstinence. You can abuse your substance of choice or begin abusing a different substance, which is why adhering to the do’s and don’ts of sober living is very important during recovery.
Addiction starts with your first use. Although physical and psychological dependency can take weeks, months, or even years to develop, recreational use can quickly transition to abuse and addiction. While addiction is relatively common and impacts more than 20 million Americans every year, most people who need substance abuse treatment don’t receive it.
Addiction, Recovery, and Relapse
Addiction is a chronic disease that changes your brain chemistry, behavior, and personality. While addiction develops in stages, the time between your first use and dependency can vary significantly. Legal substances, like alcohol, as well as prescription medications, like Xanax, can cause dependency. Drugs and alcohol can cause both physical and psychological addictions. Some of the most common substances that can lead to physical dependency include:
- Opiates, like heroin, OxyContin, and Vicodin
- Methamphetamines and amphetamines
Certain prescription medications, even when taken exactly as prescribed, can also cause addiction. When you develop an addiction, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers change and releases a surge of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, whenever you use. The neurotransmitters are responsible for the pleasurable effects of intoxication, which can make it difficult to quit using. When intoxication ends, you experience a significant depletion of neurotransmitters. The depletion can create mood changes and cravings, which makes it difficult to stop using without help.
Cravings can last long after your last use, which can make you prone to relapsing. Even if you achieve years of sobriety, relapse is always a risk because addiction is a chronic disease. Using other substances, like alcohol, after recovering from an addiction to a different substance can lead to abuse and dependency. This is why it’s important to avoid all psychoactive and potentially addictive substances during recovery.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Sober Living
While the do’s and don’ts of sober living may seem obvious, the truth is that sobriety requires a lot of major life changes. Some of the most important do’s and don’ts of sober living include avoiding people who use drugs and alcohol and avoiding environments, like bars, that encourage substance use.
A few other important do’s and don’ts of sober living include:
- Focusing on your physical, mental, and spiritual health
- Avoiding addictive substances and behaviors
- Getting involved in healthy hobbies
- Staying at a sober living residence
- Creating structure in your personal and professional life
While it’s impossible to avoid triggers completely, it’s important to limit your exposure to people, places, or things that cause cravings. This means that you should avoid bars and drinking establishments, even if you never struggled with alcoholism. Another important thing to remember during recovery is that you should avoid working in a profession that exposes you to drugs or alcohol.
During recovery, remember to find healthy hobbies. Finding ways to enjoy life without using drugs or alcohol ensures that you don’t experience boredom, which can intensify cravings.
Exploring Your Sober Living Options Today
While the do’s and don’ts of sober living may seem overwhelming, the truth is that understanding how to support your recovery is essential to beating addiction. Sober living can help support your recovery and ensure that you have access to the support and guidance you need to achieve your goals. If you would like to find out more about our sober living programs, call us today at 844.287.8506.