7 Ways to Prevent Relapse
You’ve worked so hard at your recovery from substance use disorder. You know this is a life-long battle, one that does not end when you leave treatment. Yet, the world outside of care seems very worrisome. How will you maintain your health long-term? What can you do to prevent relapse from occurring?
Having a Plan in Place
First, recognize that being prepared for recovery means having several layers of support available to you, from group therapy programs to mentors to your therapist. Second, remember that challenges, stress, and frustration will occur. Therefore, it’s critical to have a plan in place to manage stress in a healthy way.
Victory Addiction Recovery Center in Lafayette, LA, offers these strategies for preventing relapse. Use them regularly, and don’t put off getting the help and support you need at this very delicate time.
#1: Understand Your Triggers
Triggers are instances, people, or experiences that compel you to use drugs or alcohol. A trigger could be a high-stress experience, a person who treats you poorly, or a location where you used to use. Triggers differ for each person, but it’s up to you to understand what yours are so you can either avoid them or get help to manage them.
Write down your triggers. Work with your therapist to create a list of people, places, smells, experiences, or anything else that creates high stress levels or cravings. Having a list like this helps prepare you to face these triggers and respond in a healthy way.
#2: Plan to Be Proactive
Cravings are powerful, and the possibility of relapse is always present. Having a well organized plan in place to deal with cravings is important. Be proactive. That means:
- Having the phone number of someone who will tell you not to use
- Recognizing the signs or symptoms of cravings or desires to use
- Having the phone number of a mentor or your therapist
- Having a safe place to go, no matter where you are
- Recognizing thought patterns that tend to lead to drug and alcohol use
When you have a step-by-step plan to follow, you can react as soon as these thoughts begin to happen. Knowing that you have a plan is empowering, as is having a few key people to trust for support.
#3: Create New Habits and Experiences
When you leave residential treatment and enter into the “real” world again, you need to step away from the things you did before. You can’t go to the same locations or spend time with people who are still using. To ensure this doesn’t happen, create some new habits and experiences for yourself.
- Structure your day differently, starting with your morning routine
- Reach out to new people engaging in different activities
- Choose new hangout spots where there’s no drug or alcohol use
- Start working on hobbies, such as art, fitness, music, or others that interest you
- Spend time with family members who support your changes
By creating new habits, you are fighting the urge to use. You’re removing some of those triggers from your life and filling the gap with positive alternatives.
#4: Stay Busy
While you shouldn’t try to avoid emotions or thoughts, you should keep yourself busy. When you do, you are able to focus on good things in your life and fight off the cravings you may feel. This may mean taking on a new job, working on physical fitness, learning how to be a better parent, or spending more time doing charity work. You choose what’s important to you. Your goal here is simply to not sit around with nothing to do.
#5: Learn to Let Go
Another strategy to prevent relapse is simply letting go. Don’t strive for perfectionism in what you do. Instead, do the best you can and let it go. Don’t put too much attention on the details of what went wrong. Instead, focus on what went right for the day.
You may have to do this with relationships, too. You may not be able to fix everything. That’s okay. You can’t hold onto that guilt long-term.
#6: Define Your Higher Purpose
For some people, finding a higher purpose to live for can be an empowering tool for preventing relapse. It can provide you with a reason to get up each day, battle your thoughts, and fight your cravings. Your higher purpose doesn’t have to be religious. You may just want to do good in the world. You may want to give back. Find a cause that’s important to you and work to advance it.
#7: Use Your Support Team
Stepping out of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, you’ll feel empowered to embrace life. You still need to hold onto your support team, though. That may include more family and friends and perhaps a mentor or two. Don’t overlook the power and benefit of maintaining your therapy as well. When you feel at risk, reach out to your therapist. It can make all of the difference.
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