How many times must someone go through rehab to stay sober?

JP Chastain
February 5, 2019

Excellent question. Trouble is, you may not like the answer. Let’s break it down.

How many times will someone relapse? These questions are a sign that you’re thinking in practical terms about drug rehab in Houston, Austin, College-Station or somewhere else. “How much? How long? What will it take?” These are the kind of questions that come from someone who is, perhaps, ready to help someone else or begin the journey to being sober. Perhaps.

In other words, many people from all walks of life wish they could answer the question, “how do I stay sober?”. They wish really hard, don’t they? They really want to. And they will tell you so. But in reality, only a small percentage actually investigate what it actually takes. Half of all people will relapse as part of their recovery, at a slightly lower rate than other chronic illnesses. alcoholism-drug-rehab-for-men-Houston-Texas-area

Here’s the not so good news – how many times must someone go through drug rehab to stay sober depends on a countless number of factors. To better understand this, let’s attempt to group some of these factors into buckets.

Bucket #1 - Why do some people use drugs?

Things are not going to be easy, stumbling here and there along the way. a drug addict will be pushed to the limit and beyond. There will be times when you will have terrific reasons and justifications for not getting sober right now. Or, you’ll have an airtight case for why this kind of drug rehab is not for people like you. And, if you could just find that kind of rehab, things would be much better.  Or, you might convince yourself and everyone else, that the way to guarantee you’re going to make it is to take a little break – just for now. 

The more imaginative you are, the more reasons you’ll create. It all boils down to one question – “What’s your why?”  Why do you want to stay sober? The stronger your why, the better prepared you’ll be to stay on track. It helps if you can connect your why to something really important to you. Crazy important. So clearly important, you would sacrifice almost everything for it. If your why isn’t strong enough, you’ll be tempted to rationalize it away when the going gets tough. When things get bad and you’re looking for a way out, you’ll start to question if your why was actually all that important to begin with. This is normal. This is expected. We’re just human. Almost all of us do this when the going gets tough.

Bucket #2 - How strong is your self-control?

Self-control during drug rehab and keeping your commitments are like a muscle. The more you use them, the stronger they become. How experienced are you in keeping your commitments? When you’re tested, how do you perform? Do you stick to what you said you were going to do, or not? Many of us don’t have a lot of experience in keeping our commitments. Things that sounded like a terrific idea yesterday, don’t sound like such a good idea today. Your world collapses as a result of substance addiction. Everyone starts out with their own capacity of self-control and discipline. Then life happens and you either build up the ability to maintain discipline or you don’t. The fact that you may have a drug or alcohol problem didn’t just appear overnight.

Often, when circumstances are in our favor, it’s easier to make plans and commitments. Then the circumstances change. Think of an example when your circumstances were not so peachy and you did what you set out to do anyway. Even small examples of new routines can offer insights into what we can expect. It doesn’t matter where you are with this. Start small. Start small and build up to where you feel confident about overcoming whatever’s going to come your way as you begin the journey to being sober.

Many begin the climb of Everest with a gigantic whyand that’s great, but it’s the tiny commitment of putting one foot in front of the other no matter how exhausted you are that carries you all the way to the top. sobriety-after-rehab-relapse-prevention-sober-living

Bucket #3 - Why did I start using drugs?

How did you get here? What happened to you? Was it something that caused you to be where you are now? Sometimes, horrible, unspeakable things happen to us. Sometimes it’s subtle and builds momentum until it becomes a tidal wave that overwhelms us. It could have been something entirely unfair. It could have been something innocent that turns ugly. When did it happen? Is it still happening? Is there guilt? Is there blame? Is there anger? Is there shame? Dual diagnosis offers treatment options for related substance abuse problems.

Whatever it was – it happened. And the pain is very, very real. Can you begin to see that something happened and then somehow it began to define in some way, who you are? Can you begin to see that the emotions you experienced began to form how you let it create your story around it?

Bucket #4 - What factors encourage drug relapse?

Want to have some fun? Do a video search for “crabs in a bucket”. Here’s what you’ll find: All crabs have the same goal in life – to be happy. That’s it. And being happy for a crab is getting out of the bucket.  Now the funny thing is, the more crabs you have in a bucket, the harder it is for one of them to get out. You see, every single crab is using it’s claws to grab onto whatever it can. They climb over each other until one of them – the lucky one – latches onto the edge of the bucket. Just as he starts to pull himself out, one of the other crabs will latch onto the lucky crab and before you know it, Mr. Lucky Crab is back in the bottom of the bucket.

The story goes, if you listen very closely, you can hear them – “Hey, you! Mr. Lucky Crab. Who do you think you are, trying to get out? D’ya think you’re too good for us? Is that it? Come on boys, let’s show him what happens to crabs like him!”

If you’re surrounded by friends who do the very thing you want to stop doing, what will it be like when they find out? Will they feel judged by you? Will you feel sorry for them?  Will you miss them? There’s no right answer here. All you can do is be prepared to ask yourself the question. The social model of addiction treatment has been proven to be a factor in many people’s drug recovery in Texas.

Here’s some tips for staying sober during the holidays when relapse is most likely:

Bucket #5 - Who is supporting you during your drug recovery?

Have you done your research on the best rehab facility in your area? Have you gone and talked to the people who run it? Have you talked to anyone who has successfully completed their stay? What are you using to judge whether or not this is the right rehab facility for you? Prices, location, facilities are easy to compare and shop around. And, yes, all those things matter. It’s important to feel comfortable. On the other hand, I don’t ever remember hearing someone say, “The number one reason why I’m sober right now is because the décor in my room was amazing.”

Visit enough facilities, meet enough of the staff, enough questions to make sure you have the people you need. This is going to be one of the most difficult and yet rewarding journeys you will ever take. Go find the people who are going to have your back. How many times must you go through rehab is all up to you.


About The Author: 
JP Chastain
Paul Chastain is a psychology graduate from Columbia University in the City of New York, who has helped countless people with addiction journalism since 2008.

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