Addiction recovery is a life-long effort to stay well and sober. Recovering addicts struggle with complex emotional problems and self-destructive behaviors. Addictive people usually suffer from a myriad of emotional issues such as: depression, trauma, grief, anxiety, loss, shame, guilt etc. Any of these issues can trigger a relapse response if the recovering addict is not well prepared to take them head-on. Rehab programs are designed to teach a recovering addict about relapse prevention and equip them with recovery tools.
Recovery Tools for Preventing a Relapse
Some recovery tools address relapse prevention and provide tips and strategies to aid the recovering addict in coping with triggers, cravings and strong emotional issues. One of the most important tips is to think proactively toward high-risk situations. A recovering addict should not position them self in a place, like a bar or restaurant, where they socialized with other addicts in the past. The recovering addict has to devise a plan of escape that they can implement if they ever find them self in this type of situation or meet former friends who are addicts. The response to the situation must be immediate and proactive. Lingering and talking with addicts may trigger the wrong response. Avoid relapse by quickly escaping to a safe place.
Another important recovery tool is asking for help if you feel overwhelmed or troubled abut something. Reach out to family members, friends and counselors for help and support. Part of the rehabilitation process is learning how to cope with problems, but this does not have to be done alone. Other people can help by listening, advising or assisting in resolving specific problems. Whether the problem is personal, familial, social, financial etc. does not matter. But being anxious and troubled does matter because it can trigger a negative response. Proactively pursue relapse prevention by including others in your rehabilitation. They can help you avoid any unnecessary triggers and put your mind at ease.
Learning how to live a balanced, holistic life is another important recovery tool. Part of your rehabilitation is to undo the harm that addiction has caused and replace it with healthy alternatives. Getting enough sleep is a top priority. Addiction exhausts the body and depletes it of vital nutrients. It puts the nervous system into a dysfunctional mode of operation. Any undue stress can be an immediate trigger to someone who doesn’t get enough rest and whose nerves are continually on edge. Another good tip is to start eating nourishing, healthy food and hydrate well with water. Take vitamin and mineral supplements if your body is lacking vital nutrients. Begin to practice self-relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation, prayer and praise, exercise, walking, yoga and more. You might also enjoy playing sports with others such as tennis, golf, baseball, bowling etc. Singing, dancing and playing a musical instrument can also be relaxing, enjoyable and fulfilling. Physical activity builds up the storage of natural dopamine and nor-epinephrine in the brain, giving you feelings of peace and well-being. Dopamine and nor-epinephrine actively fight against depression, anxiety and other mental problems. All these recovery tools play an important part in rehabilitation and relapse prevention.
Things to do if You Experience a Relapse
There will still be times when you will have the urge to use drugs or alcohol again. When this happens, begin to immediately engage in anything to distract your mind from the urge. For some people taking a walk, going shopping, talking with a family member or trusted friend can help. Engage in things that you enjoy and the urge will usually pass after 15 to 30 minutes. Remember to take a plan of action and physically get up and do something. Don’t sit and dwell on the urge, but busy your mind with an activity. These techniques have helped many recovering addicts avoid relapse.
Develop skills to help you prevent relapse and promote a healthy, balanced life. It is all about knowledge and choices. Knowing what to expect and what you can do about it are important facts in making the right choices. Don’t give your self excuses to relapse, like telling yourself that you had a bad day and deserve a little treat. Start to identify the patterns of thoughts, speech and behavior that lead to relapse. High-risk situations may arise and you should know what they are. Some high-risk situations include: being bored or depressed, or being tired, lonely or physically sick. A red flag should go up if you are getting excited about pay-day or stroking your ego when you have achieved something you are proud of and want to celebrate. Other triggers could be: an argument with loved ones, financial problems, health problems, meeting former friends who are addicts, seeing or hearing something that reminds you of your former life as an addict, etc. you know what your triggers are. Write them down and memorize them. Then develop the best plan of attack against them. You are in control. It is your thoughts, choices and life. Stay strong and choose to continue in the right direction. You can beat addiction with knowledge and skills. You have the power to change. Do it.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.