A Life in Recovery – Maintaining Abstinence in Ontario, Canada

If you are trying to maintain abstinence from alcohol or drugs over a long period of time, it is important to develop a drug-free lifestyle in all areas of your life in Ontario. Home, at work and during your leisure hours.

If you sought treatment from a professional rehab program for your alcohol or drug problem, one of the most important objectives of your continuing or follow-up care is to help you learn to replace your previous destructive behaviours with more healthy and productive alternatives.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to change everything. Start with creating healthy behaviours and positive thinking patterns.  Avoiding the factors that contributed to your addiction is the first step in finding other ways to have fun or cope with stress.

Continuing the Recovery Lifestyle in Ontario

If you received inpatient drug or alcohol treatment, and you have entered the follow-up or continuing phase of your rehab you should still have regular contact with your counsellor and attend support group meetings but maintaining your recovery is your responsibility and choice.

In order to maintain abstinence, it is important that you:

  • Avoid environmental triggers.
  • Recognize your own psychosocial and emotional triggers.
  • Develop healthy behaviours to handle life’s stresses.

Just like everything else we do in life, recovering from addiction requires personal accountability.  This means a person in recovery must have a plan, know their strengths and weaknesses, use the tools they have learned and follow some basic rules in order to succeed with the long term recovery plan. So, are there rules of recovery and where do you begin?

A Positive Attitude Matters and Benefits Your Sobriety

The benefits of positive thinking are more important to recovery than you can imagine. Making a few changes in your life can help you on the road to a life of sobriety. Millions of people go through life unhappy and unaware that they have the power to make a change. You have been given a second chance at creating a better life.  Of course, it will be difficult and demanding, but it can also be rewarding.  Embrace your recovery, and enjoy the opportunity to start anew.  Don’t negotiate with yourself.  Make the most of your second chance. 

A positive attitude is contagious, and the more positivity you can bring into areas of your life, the more it tends to spread to other areas and also affects others around you back home in Ontario. However if you’re feeling down and blue, it doesn’t mean you have to put on an act or ignore your feelings but sitting in this emotion without finding solutions won’t help either. One thing you will learn in recovery is that feelings pass. You can come out on the other side of negative feelings naturally without having to numb them away. 

Morning Motivation in Ontario

Learning how to wake up with a positive outlook can be a great stepping stone to the day ahead. We all have chores and commitments that are boring and mundane, but looking past these and focusing on the more pleasurable activities will help guide your day and uplift your mood. Take a few moments before you leave your bed, to think of a couple of good things that you have planned for the day. Even this slight change to your morning routine can have a knock-on effect throughout the day as a little motivation can be a milestone during your sobriety. 

Keeping the Feeling Alive

Once you come home from treatment in Ontario, trying to keep good thoughts and a positive attitude throughout the day may be difficult as triggers are thrown at you, so learning some tips and techniques from trained counsellors can be a turning point for you to avoid relapse.

Using these tools can be very beneficial for changing your attitude and the more practice you put into the techniques, the sooner you will begin to see yourself and your daily challenges in a different light and let a healthier you shine through.

Attitude of Gratitude

The emotional charge of gratitude is inherently positive and can bring about change in your emotional response to situations, in your personality, and in your world outlook. Gratitude and happiness are two topics that have been long researched but only recently became hot topics. As more and more Ontarians are becoming aware of the benefits of applying positive thinking methods to their daily life, gratitude and happiness are rising to the top of the priority self-checklist.

If we take a deeper look at gratitude, we find that gratia is the Latin origin for gratitude and means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is an appreciation from receipt of something tangible or intangible from an individual (Giving thanks makes you happier).

  • Stay positive with a gratitude journal. Having a journal where you can list all the things that go well is like having a tablespoon of honey in your oatmeal.
  • Stay positive by helping those who are less lucky. We’re so used to comparing ourselves with those who have more but we rarely compare ourselves with those who have less.
  • Stay positive by saying ‘Thank Yous’ in your head. Sometimes we get something that we can’t express a loud thank you for. Say those thanks in your head.

Supportive Friends and Family in Ontario

One of the first steps in developing a drug-free lifestyle is developing new hobbies, friendships, social patterns and leisure activities. Sometimes this can mean ending friendships with those people who were directly involved in your former drinking or drug-using lifestyle. Especially those who helped you get drugs, use drugs or were your drinking buddies. 

During treatment in Ontario, our staff will work with you to help you identify drug-free supportive friends and family members and encourage you to mend and improve those relationships. Participating in recreational activities with friends and family is an excellent way to replace the time that you spent drug-seeking and using. If you do not have drug-free friends or loved ones, your counsellors and support staff will encourage you to become involved in new social groups and make new, supportive friends. If you suffer social anxiety we can work with you to not let it hold you back in your recovery.

After your stay in treatment in Ontario, you may find yourself trying to prove to yourself and others that you can do this on your own. That now you have the tools. However, this may be the hardest way to approach recovery.  Part of being in recovery involves knowing when to reach out for help.  Remember, there are people who do want you to succeed.

A support circle can include some or all of the following.

  • Counsellors
  • Recovery coaches
  • Your Interventionist
  • Close friends or family members
  • Peer support groups
  • Sponsors
  • Health professionals

A strong support group will help you realize that you are not alone and that you have a safe place to turn to when you feel overwhelmed.  Most individuals who reach out for help have had the same misgivings as you. Those who seek advice or guidance are more likely to avoid relapse. Long term supportive recovery is the goal for all our Ontario clients.

Creating a Routine

Another important aspect of developing a drug and/or alcohol-free lifestyle is to develop a structured daily routine that you can consistently follow. Structure and organization in your life can be a very important component in your recovery. Keeping a chaotic and disorganized life can definitely hinder your recovery. 

When you were in the early abstinence stage of your rehab program in Ontario, your addiction specialists and support staff worked with you to establish a daily and/or weekly schedule to help you begin to structure your time and to replace your drug-seeking and using activities with healthy alternatives. In the maintaining abstinence phase of your recovery, it is important not to abandon that structured schedule or deviate from it on a regular basis.

Setting Goals

While maintaining your sobriety remains a high priority in your life, in order to develop a long-term drug-free lifestyle, it is helpful to identify larger goals for your future. Now that you have achieved some abstinence, you will probably begin to develop larger, long-term goals such as going back to school, changing career paths or saving toward financial goals.

Clearly identifying goals for your life and developing a plan to achieve those goals can play an important role in helping you develop and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Your follow-up counsellor will help you learn how to work toward these goals within the context of your new recovering lifestyle.

Developing a Healthy Plan

If you remain in professional follow-up alcohol or addiction rehab counselling in Ontario, your counsellor will try to help you identify situations in your life where you may be starting to deviate from your healthy recovery plan. More importantly, they will help you set up concrete, behavioural changes that will pull you out of the relapse process.

Some of the areas your continuing care counselling in Ontario will address may include the following. Each of these articles outlines why these steps are important to your recovery and how you can achieve these goals:

  • Healthy Relationships & Friendships
  • Developing a Drug-Free or Sober Lifestyle
  • Managing Anger
  • Dealing with Stress and Anxiety
  • Exercise and Nutrition
  • Employment and Money Management
  • Substituting Addictions

No matter what if you find yourself in a downward spiral heading towards a relapse you must reach out and do something different to get back on track. Call your counsellor or Interventionist in Ontario, go to a group support meeting and spend time with others who support your recovery.  Take care to maintain a healthy structure in your life, ensuring you are in a drug-free environment and avoid external triggers where possible. Take positive action to resolve any relationship, personal or work-related problems that are causing you stress.

Keeping Safe in Ontario

Avoid risky situations, including people, places, and things that encourage your substance use.  This won’t always be easy, but your sobriety should be your priority. Of course, there will be times when you can’t avoid the high-risk scenarios. Stress at work or at home may be one of the reasons you used alcohol or drugs to escape from and those situations may still be there and maybe unavoidable. However, if you’re aware of these as triggers, you can be better prepared.  Make a list of what you believe are high-risk situations and what your triggers are and discuss them with your addiction specialist or counsellors in Ontario.

Practice Self-Care in Ontario

Like many people, you used drugs or alcohol to escape stress, relax, or reward yourself.  Substance abuse and alcohol misuse is often the result of a person’s attempt to self-medicate and you may fear not having this coping tool. However, there are many other ways to relax after a long day at work or deal with stressful situations.

Learning healthy methods of relaxation is vital to long term recovery.  If you can’t learn to relax, the stress and tension that result can cause a relapse.  Some of the most simple relaxation methods involve simply taking a walk or practicing meditation or mindfulness techniques. Other tools can be talking to people who understand and listen, getting a massage or practicing yoga.

Recognizing the Relapse Process in Ontario

Once a decision has been made to stay sober most people don’t right away. Relapse is common, but you can learn from each experience. Staying sober is a 24-hour ordeal and every minute, you learn to identify triggers, temptations, environmental hazards and sometimes the welcome distractions to help you stay sober and clean.

Changes are a big part of getting clean and sober. This can mean changing your environment, getting new routines and detaching from acquaintances so it’s understandable why someone would struggle to adjust to staying sober. 

A relapse does not begin when you pick up a drink or a drug. It’s a gradual process marked by negative changes in your attitude, feelings, and behaviours. Your follow-up counsellor will work with you to help you recognize these warning signs and develop a plan to change directions when you start heading down the path toward relapse.

Research has shown that an alcohol or drug relapse is preceded by a recognizable set of warning signs or steps that you can learn to recognize and therefore avoid. Your counsellor will help you recognize in your own life the distinct steps or phases that occur prior to a full-blown relapse.​

The earliest signs that a relapse could happen may go unnoticed by you. You might not think about using drugs or alcohol again. However, the conditions that led to addiction before can align once again.

Some of the most common signs of a possible relapse include:

  • Anxiety
  • Intolerant or impatient mindset
  • Anger and bottling emotions
  • Being overly or inappropriately defensive
  • Mood swings
  • Skipping recovery meetings
  • Eating a poor diet
  • Falling into poor sleeping habits
  • Avoiding help

This is the best stage to recognize the signs of relapse. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine says you should remember the HALT acronym and use it:

  • Hungry: Good nutrition keeps your mind and body healthier
  • Angry: Don’t bottle emotions
  • Lonely: Allow yourself to have fun
  • Tired: Keep a healthy sleep pattern

Millions of people quit alcohol every year, but many of these also fall off the wagon, so learning some strategies and tools for long-term sobriety is crucial. One area that can benefit you greatly in the recovery of alcohol addiction is taking responsibility for your attitude.

People get in trouble when they let their guard down after their early-abstinence success. It is important that you do not take your sobriety for granted and that you recognize the power of your addiction. Maintaining a recovery-oriented attitude is critical.

It is also important that you continue your counselling sessions, your participation in support groups, and that you remain honest with yourself and others about your feelings and thoughts.

Changes in attitudes, feelings, and behaviours can quickly lead you to a relapse.

Time for a Change?

So if having a different attitude and gaining some new tools to use when the tough times come is as simple as that, why can’t everyone recover from alcohol or drug addiction in Ontario?

The answer to that question is really down to the individual, you first need to decide for yourself if you really want to change. If alcohol was given up because family and friends suggested it was time, or if rehab was prescribed for health reasons, then maybe the choice behind giving up drugs or alcohol wasn’t entirely yours?

If the answer is an undeniable yes, and you are ready for change, then unless you seek help from others, you may get caught up in a never-ending loop of drinking and sobriety. We are here and we can help pull you back into recovery. Don’t give up. If what you have tried hasn’t worked, then you need more information on what will work for you. This is by no means a sign of weakness, we can only act with the knowledge we have, so maybe it’s time to get some new information and start implementing methods that you have never tried before. Call us today in Ontario at 1-888-960-3209 and let us guide you down a different path.

Private Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centres in Ontario

There are a number of private detox and rehab centres in Ontario that may be suitable for those trying to break free from alcohol or substance abuse who have tried in the past and not been able to. Individualized care is important. A good addiction rehabilitation centre should be able to create a treatment plan that is appropriate for someone’s unique needs and circumstances.

Recovery from addiction is most likely to happen when a determination is combined with the right resources. There isn’t one path that is going to work for every person so caution is advised when any addiction treatment facility advocates a one-size-fits-all approach.

If you are a family member of someone who has relapsed in Ontario. Call us to learn more about our treatment and intervention options in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada. Andy Bhatti Addiction Services and Interventions in Ontario can help you facilitate a successful intervention so don’t be shy; call us at 1-888-960-3209.

Questions about Private Detox and Treatment Options in Ontario? 

If you are committed to getting your life back on track and keeping your family together, then contact Andy Bhatti Addiction Services and Interventions at our toll-free number 1-888-960-3209. We offer assistance in finding the right recovery centre for you, setting up family therapy, as well as other addiction treatment therapies for all types of conditions. Call us to find out more about our family therapy programs in Ontario.

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