Relapse is not a single event that happens suddenly. It starts small, and without the right skills in knowing how to avoid relapse, it will continue to build until you can no longer ignore it. You give in to the temptations even though you know the consequences will be dire.
Staying sober is not easy. If it were, everyone would be sober. However, there are tips and tricks that many people getting sober have implemented and found success over the years. Let’s discuss these tips and tricks in more detail below.
Know the Most Common Reasons for Relapse
When talking to those who have relapsed, specific triggers are commonly mentioned. If you know these common triggers, you can prepare for them. The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.
For example, when you study and prepare for an upcoming exam, you are more likely to get a high grade than if you did not study.
Reasons for relapse include the following:
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Untreated mental health symptoms
- Seeing people that remind you of misusing substances
- Going places that remind you of past use
- Encountering things that remind you of drugs or alcohol
- Poor self-care
- Unhealthy relationships
- Feeling overconfident in your sobriety
- Not having a plan for times when you feel bored or lonely
- Lack of coping skills to deal with uncomfortable emotions
Each of the above reasons will differ for every person in recovery. By getting to know yourself better, you can learn which people, places, or things to avoid and learn coping skills and self-care. Additionally, you can learn how to avoid relapse.
Know the Stages of Relapse
There are several stages of relapse. If you can recognize these stages, you can act early and avoid reaching the final stage, relapse.
The first stage is called the emotional stage of relapse. In the emotional stage, you may be feeling confident in your ability to stay sober. However, there are times when you become emotionally overwhelmed, and thoughts of escaping the stress sneak in. They can lead to a mental relapse, the second stage.
In the mental relapse stage, your thoughts become more focused on your old life with drugs and alcohol. Cravings increase, and you may even look for opportunities to relapse. This will eventually lead to the physical stage or the relapse.
To avoid a relapse, you must have a plan that includes the following tips.
Build a Support System
Picture yourself standing in the middle of a room. Looking in each direction, you see a person who wants you to succeed in recovery and is willing to help you avoid a relapse in any way they can. These people can be friends, family, counselors, preachers, and anyone else you can call upon when faced with triggers. Who can support you?
Your support system is critical. Choose people who will be honest with you, who can be accessed any time of day or night, and who understand the disease of addiction.
Recovery support systems include more than just family and friends. Attending peer support groups like 12 Step facilitation groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous are beneficial because you are surrounded by peers who understand what you are going through. It helps to know you are not alone in recovery.
Even attending peer recovery groups online can help you avoid relapse and stay sober.
Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health
How you feel physically influences how you feel mentally and vice versa. If you experience aches and pains, you may notice your mood shift to a more depressed or agitated state. It’s hard to feel happy and energized when you are hurting physically.
Because physical and mental health is so intertwined, you must learn how to take care of both. Work with an individual therapist to learn the value of self-care. Together, you can create a self-care plan that includes beneficial activities.
Examples of self-care include developing good sleep hygiene, meditation, relaxation, and making and keeping appointments with physicians and psychiatrists to discuss mental or physical issues.
Work with a nutritionist to create a vitamin-rich diet since drugs and alcohol cause nutritional deficiencies. Also, attending group therapies to give and receive peer support can be rewarding.
Fill Your Schedule
One of the best ways to stay sober is to stay distracted. Sitting around watching television shows filled with triggers is not going to help.
Boredom can be a trigger also. To avoid relapse, schedule healthy activities.
If you don’t already have a job, start searching for one. Working in early recovery provides a distraction from triggers and gives you a purpose, and helps you get back on your feet financially.
When you are not working, add a support group meeting or another recovery activity to your schedule. The key is to be too busy to notice all the temptations in daily life.
The version of you that misused drugs and alcohol is gone. Therefore, you can’t continue to live as that person. You must develop a new you. This means new goals, a new attitude, and a new presence. If you are still trying to figure this out, that’s okay. Fake it til you make it, as the saying goes.
For example, if you encounter someone from your past who may influence you to relapse, present yourself as the person you are becoming. Stand tall, exude confidence, and reject their attempts. The more you do this, the sooner it will become a reality.
There are hundreds of ways to avoid relapse and stay sober. Each tactic is like ammunition against the enemy, which is relapse. The more ammo you have, the better. Recovery treatment is where you can gain the most ammunition in the shortest period.
Work with a counselor, get feedback from peers, and participate in family therapy so your loved ones can become part of your recovery. If you are looking for more information on avoiding relapse and staying sober, give us a call today. We can help you.