For individuals struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD), long-term recovery should always be their primary goal. Unfortunately, many men with SUD do not receive the necessary treatment. If untreated, SUD can lead to further complications in personal relationships, troubles at work, and the development of other chronic physical or mental health conditions.
The idea of seeking treatment and starting recovery may be scary. Addiction is an illness that requires you to battle triggers and cravings frequently – for some, every day. However, you can not focus on the rest of your lifetime. Sometimes, the best way to maintain recovery long-term is to focus on getting through a day or even just a few minutes at a time. Either way, recovery is possible, but you must want it for yourself.
How Many People Are Struggling with SUD?
According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 61.2 million people ages 12 and older used illicit drugs. That primarily includes marijuana. However, 9.2 million people 12 and older also misused opioids. Further, 46.3 million people 12 or older “met the applicable DSM-5 criteria for having a substance use disorder in the past year,” including alcohol use disorder (AUD) and drug addiction.
Of the individuals with SUD, 94% did not receive any treatment. It is hard to understand why that might be. Some may not recognize or accept their problems with substance use or have access to quality treatment. In either case, people must be proactive with their treatment and recovery and find the best options. However, as many know, that is sometimes easier said than done.
Short-Term vs. Long-Term Recovery Programs
When beginning your recovery journey, one of the first steps is educating yourself on the programs available. Of course, you must first accept your SUD, which you can do through the help of family, friends, or intervention methods. Then you can consider residential treatment, intensive outpatient programs, day treatment, or other options.
A short-term recovery program may incorporate 12-Step program elements, holistic practice, and evidence-based modalities. These programs offer early care for individuals, but you must also utilize other recovery tools, like therapy and support group meetings. Short-term programs may also help you through detox. Some residential treatment programs offer detox services, but others require you to detox before arriving at the facility. A short-term program can safely get you through detox and prepare you for the next step – a longer and more intense treatment program.
Remember, detox is just the first step in a much longer process. A long-term recovery program is where the real work takes place. That includes getting to the root cause of your SUD, learning healthy coping techniques, and recognizing and learning to change unhealthy or harmful patterns of thoughts and actions.
Long-term recovery programs may also be able to spend more time preparing you for life post-treatment. As some of us may already know, life after treatment presents us with many new and sometimes complex challenges. Long-term recovery programs take these challenges into consideration. Of course, there is no way to predict the future. However, knowing your situation and what life responsibilities you will return to, you can better prepare for triggers, cravings, stressors, and other potential risks for relapse. Short-term recovery programs may not offer the same time to plan a relapse prevention plan in quite as much detail.
How to Maintain Long-Term Recovery
For some, recovery may be short-lived due to exposure to too many triggers or situations that increase the chances of relapse. While relapse can be a natural part of recovery, some people may struggle more to maintain long-term recovery. The first thing to remember is that relapse is not a sign of failure. Instead of focusing on the relapse, you must think about what caused it. Was it an unexpected trigger? Did you find yourself in a particularly stressful situation that caught you off guard? Perhaps you have been in recovery for a while and experienced a momentary relapse. Despite the reason for the relapse, maintaining long-term recovery is possible.
A few simple ways you can strengthen your relapse prevention plan and maintain long-term recovery include:
- Prioritizing your mental health, whether that includes attending weekly therapy sessions, getting enough quality sleep, or carving out time for self-care
- Taking care of your body through exercise and nutrition
- Staying connected to your support network by calling or texting frequently or attending support group meetings regularly
- Setting goals for yourself and your recovery to ensure you do not get bored with your recovery regimen
- Carving out time each week to do things you love, such as hiking, spending time with friends, pursuing artistic passions, or just relaxing at home
The difference between short- and long-term recovery is not as big as you might think. Sometimes, the most minute things can help us maintain recovery on a long-term basis. Nevertheless, you can achieve a lifetime of sobriety by seeking treatment today.
The recovery journey is, unfortunately, short for some people. Sometimes triggers are too intense or stressful to handle. Other times, individuals do not make the necessary changes to maintain recovery on a long-term basis. Short- and long-term recovery programs both have their benefits, but sometimes a short-term program is critical to prepare for the real work of achieving sobriety through treatment. Nevertheless, long-term recovery is possible, though it may take more effort and energy on some days. You can achieve long-term recovery, but you must accept your struggle with substance use disorder (SUD) and seek the right addiction treatment program. To learn more or seek treatment, call Healing Pines Recovery at (720) 575-2621.