Getting the most out of treatment

Man thinking about his heroin treatment goals

One of the most important ways that you can ensure that you get the best you can from your treatment is by setting goals. You can do this alone, with your doctor or key worker.

Don’t be overambitious – you may plan to end up a long way from where you are today, but try and break your journey into small steps that are realistic and achievable. If you set overly ambitious goals, you might put your recovery at risk by failing to reach them. While some specific issues may need to be addressed quickly, there is no hurry to fix everything at once.

Do set some dates by which you’d like to achieve each goal. You should be flexible, but at least you will have something to work towards.

Do write your goals down or tell them to your key worker or doctor so you can refer back to them, see what progress you have made and seek advice whenever you need it.

Do start with small things before trying to tackle major issues. Getting those right will give you the confidence to move onto the bigger things.

You also might want to take some of these tips on board:

Be patient – you didn’t become dependent on drugs overnight, nor should you expect to fix everything overnight.  You have started a personal journey, and treatment is just one important part of that journey.

Be realistic – there is no magic pill, progress may be slow and you may suffer many setbacks. The important thing is to keep an eye on where you are ultimately heading and remember how far you have come.

Be kind to yourself – relapses and slips are a natural part of your journey. Sometimes people in treatment can be their own harshest critics and yet your self-esteem is an important part of your recovery. The fact that you are reading this and making informed choices is an achievement in itself. Recognise all your achievements, no matter how small, and accept your moments of weakness.  Everyone has them.

Be open with your doctor – you should work towards an open relationship with your doctor. Your doctor will recognise your honesty and will know that he/she can trust you. Trust works both ways. When you are trusted you will find it easier to trust.

Be aware of relapse triggers – you can increase your chances of success and reduce your risk of relapsing by avoiding a number of triggers, such as peer pressure from other drug users. It is also important you try to overcome certain mentalities (eg “once a junkie, always a junkie”) through counselling or other psychosocial support programmes.

Be health aware – treatment offers you the opportunity to understand and tackle any health conditions that may have arisen during your drug use. Understand how to improve your health during your recovery and how to stay healthy.

Be informed – part of getting control back over your body is to make sure that you understand what is happening to you and what your choices are at every step. Never be afraid to ask questions.

Get help – if you are having problems around getting your service to support you in goal setting – or if they are trying to impose treatment options on you with which you’re uncomfortable, then you may want to seek some advocacy support. Speak to an advocacy group who can offer you help getting the treatment you want and provide advice and guidance on your treatment rights.