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    If you or a loved one suffers from substance addiction issues, you are certainly not alone. And if you have undergone treatment for the disorder, chances are you know that the road to sobriety can be bumpy. Research has shown that between 40% and 60% of patients have relapsed after getting clean.

    If you are one of them, there is no reason to feel ashamed, guilty, or hopeless. Understanding how addiction works is the key to long-term sobriety. Continued drug abuse leads to chemical changes in the brain, which feed the compulsion to use. 

    A comprehensive drug recovery program and a few life changes can help lead to success in your sobriety over the long run.

    1. Make a Comprehensive Treatment Program the Foundation of Your Sobriety 

    The first step to drug recovery is just to get clean. From inpatient to outpatient programs and detox facilities, there is plenty of help to get you started.

    2. Complete the Entire Program

    You would be surprised how many patients feel that they are “cured” and ready to take on the world before they have finished their treatment. This nearly always leads to relapsing.

    3. Establish and Stick to an Aftercare Plan

    Most treatment centers have case managers or counselors who will help you develop a strategy for ongoing care. It usually includes some type of outpatient program or continuing counseling.

    4. Establish a Support System and Lean On It

    This can be anything from a 12-step program to individual counseling to positive (non-addict) family and friends. It works best when it’s a combination of personal and professional support.

    5. Get Involved in New Hobbies (or Rediscover Old Ones)

    Drug recovery isn’t always about meetings and therapy and avoiding triggers. Sometimes it’s just about finding enjoyable things to occupy your mind and your time. 

    Maybe you like to fish. Perhaps collecting memorabilia interests you. If you don’t have any existing hobbies you want to get involved in, find some new ones.

    6. Make Time for Regular Physical Activity

    Anxiety and depression are common issues that can arise in the early stages of your drug recovery. Exercise is a fantastic way to counteract and neutralize these problems as they release healthy endorphins into the brain.

    7. Never Hesitate to Ask Others for Help

    This does not make you weak or mean that you can’t handle your own problems. It means that you are smart enough to realize that sobriety sometimes means leaning on others for support. And those who genuinely care about you will always be willing to help.

    Drug Recovery Is a Lifelong Process

    Anyone who has ever suffered from addiction knows that there is no “cure.” A person can be sober for 30 years, and after one relapse, their brain and their body can fall right back to where they were when they first entered treatment. That’s why it is so critical to follow the guidelines for staying sober, one day at a time.