The purpose of nearly all drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs is for the addict to achieve abstinence. This means a lifetime of sobriety, or no longer using drugs and alcohol at all. Many addicts begin to think that they can handle “just one drink” at some point in addiction recovery.
However, this often begins the road to relapse. By avoiding the substances altogether, the individual reduces the temptation to go overboard and end up back in a lifestyle of full-blown addiction.
Abstinence is a difficult concept for many addicts to accept when they’re in a treatment program, and it’s difficult to put into practice in daily life. Yet, it is an extremely important element of successful addiction recovery. When they enter rehab, many patients aren’t yet convinced that they really need to quit. One of the goals, then, of the treatment program is to show the individual the harmful effects that their addiction is causing.
Once they agree to abstinence from drugs and alcohol, the person must be taught how to achieve this in their life. For example, they will experience cravings for the drug or alcohol while in rehab and after the treatment program is finished. They need to learn how to handle this temptation without letting it become a relapse.
Everyday things such as people, places where one has used, and stressful situations can be triggers that make a person want drugs and alcohol. A treatment program should teach individuals how to identify the triggers in their life and avoid them when possible.
These are tools which are learned in a rehab center and put into everyday practice when the patient leaves. Returning to the familiar environment of their home makes abstinence more difficult due to triggers to use and easier access to drugs and alcohol. One of the goals of a treatment program is to equip the addict with knowledge to handle these things and successfully live a lifestyle of abstinence.