A methamphetamine relapse happens when you start using the drug after a period of staying off it—for example, after going through an addiction rehab program. Because the effects of meth addiction are so damaging to the brain, experts agree that rehab doesn’t stop after you complete a treatment program.
Staying sober is a lifelong commitment that proves most successful when you approach it with patience, the desire to change your life, and support from family and friends.
Here, two experts give eight tips on maintaining sobriety after completing meth addiction treatment:
1. Take care of your mental health. Most people who become addicted to meth start using it to soothe the bad feelings they have from a mental illness, like ADHD, PTSD, or depression, Mark G. Koetting, PhD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. He’s an alcohol and drug counselor at Synergy Counseling Center in Missouri. A psychiatrist can figure out the right medications or types of therapy for you if you’ve also been diagnosed with a mental illness.
2. Form a relapse prevention plan.Meth users tend to take the drug to numb themselves from any hardships, explains Koetting. It helps to plan ahead in case you get tempted to start using again. “Figure out, ‘What are my high-risk people or places, situations, emotions, and how am I going to handle those now that I don’t have this drug to rely on?’” he says.
3. Join a support group. There are several options for national support groups. Koetting recommends the SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) program. It promotes using different tools, such as role playing and forming hierarchy of values, to gain the skills to keep up a healthy lifestyle.
4. Include your loved ones in therapy sessions. Family therapy is generally recommended because it’s comforting and motivating to be surrounded by supportive people. Not every family member needs to be included, says R.J. García, an interventionist and therapist with the Doable Recovery Institute in Austin, Texas. Ask yourself, he says, “Is this person healthy for your recovery?”
5. Get a fresh start.If you can, relocate to another city or state, where you won’t be affiliated with or tempted by any drug-related negative influences, García says. Then, you can start to rebuild your social life. Erase contacts in your phone and send a final text saying that you’re going into treatment and this is your final communication.
6. Live in a sober living house.These houses usually consist of five to 10 people who are also in recovery, including a recovering house manager. You pay rent for a bedroom, and you’re typically required to hold a job and go to treatment, says Koetting. It’s “a really good option for people who don’t have a lot of family support or a good place to live once they get clean,” he says.
7. Seek advice.Connect with another person who’s remained sober for many years, or is also seeking support. This person can offer you guidance during tough times, experts agree. You can find them through support groups like Crystal Meth Anonymous online or by contacting a local addiction specialist.
8. Have patience. When you get sober, your brain must re-learn how to acknowledge pleasure. It can take months, and sometimes up to a year, before you feel like yourself again and enjoy activities like going out to lunch, Koetting says. That is why self-compassion is vital. “Life is going to be hard for a while,” he says. “It does get better if you can stay clean.”
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