Getting clean and sober and into recovery is an amazing accomplishment and the beginning of a wonderful journey. Of course, it doesn’t always feel like this. Sometimes staying clean is a struggle, especially in the first year. Some people relapse several times in early recovery, before they finally “get it” and embrace recovery.
On the other end of the spectrum are those who have been in recovery for some time, maybe years. Perhaps they have lost touch with their support group and have stopped doing the things that have helped them stay clean and sober. Then something happens that causes turmoil in their lives and without the proper support they relapse.
Relapse can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t mean all is lost, or that you have failed. Many so-called chronic relapsers have gotten clean and sober for good, enjoying long-term, quality recovery.
While it’s true that relapse is relatively normal and doesn’t mean you have failed, it doesn’t have to happen. The risks of relapse are that once you start using again, you may not make it back to recovery. Many recovering addicts have lost friends and family to relapse, so the best course of action is to make every effort to prevent relapse from happening.
What Is Relapse Prevention?
Relapse prevention consists of learning and practicing tools and strategies designed to help you stay clean and sober after treatment. Some examples include identifying potential triggers and learning techniques for dealing with powerful emotions so you don’t end up using over them. Here are seven tips for relapse prevention that you can implement in your own recovery:
1. Develop an addiction support group, and stay connected with it.
This is incredibly important. Isolating is an early sign of being in “relapse mode.” It is important to set aside time in your daily life to connect with those who support you in your recovery. This support group can consist of other recovering addicts who are working a program, your sponsor or family and friends who are healthy, positive and understand what you are doing.
2. Practice Good Recovery Self-Care
Get enough to eat, sleep eight hours a night. Take time out for yourself, journal, take a hot bath when you need to relax, don’t over schedule yourself. Many recovering addicts try to make up for lost time or work so hard to build their new life that they take on too much. Working, meetings, school, commitments, family, hobbies, housework and more. It can all be too much! You may think you are doing well because you are accomplishing so much, but the reality is that you are running yourself into the ground, and setting yourself up for relapse. Slow down and take time out to nurture yourself and relax. Try using simple mindfulness techniques to keep yourself balanced, present and positive.
3. Avoid Relapse Triggers When You Can
Triggers are people, places, things and situations that may make you want to use. Of course, many triggers are internal, such as emotional upset. There will be times when you are triggered, it is inevitable. But, there is no reason to tempt fate. Don’t hang out in bars, don’t go visit your old dealer to show him how good you are doing. Avoid people you know are using, even if they are friends or family.
4. Make A Plan For Sticky Relapse Situations
You can’t go live under a rock, so there will be times you will find yourself in situations that may trigger you. Maybe you need to attend a social event where there will be alcohol. Take a clean and sober person with you for support.
Emotional upsets are going to happen, things are going to go wrong. These things can go one of two ways: They can either help to strengthen your recovery and relationships with your support group, or they can lead to relapse. Making a plan for what you will do when things go wrong is an important part of relapse prevention. This can include breakups, job loss, illness or injury, death of a loved one or other difficult or challenging situations. Who will you call? Do you have a meeting schedule on you at all times? Is there way you can take care of yourself in the moment so that you can get through a difficult moment? How?
5. Practice Recovery Gratitude On A Daily Basis
When you are expressing gratitude every day, life is just better. It seems that practicing gratitude invites more good things into your life. It also helps you stay more centered and satisfied with life. If you are feeling restless, irritable and discontent, check your gratitude — it may be lacking.
6. Help Others
Being of service is credited by many addicts for keeping them clean and sober for the long haul. Service helps you stay grateful, connect with others, stay out of self-pity and isolation and keep your ego in check. All things that can help relapse prevention.
7. Be Honest With Yourself And Others about your Addiction
There may be times you want to use. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Wanting to use is not a sign that you are bad or doing something wrong. Addicts want to use sometimes, it is quite normal. We are lucky when we can go a long period of time without that urge. When it hits, how you handle it is the most important thing.
Do you call someone? Do you let people know how you feel? Are you honest with yourself about it? Don’t brush these things under the rug, they won’t just go away. Let people know what is going on with you, it will help take the power out of it, and give people the opportunity to be there for you.
Getting Help After A Relapse
If you have relapsed, all is not lost. You are not a failure if you slip. The important thing is to get back to recovery as quickly as possible. One way to get yourself back on track is through a drug treatment center. Broadway Treatment Center is a comprehensive program with cutting edge treatment in a warm, welcoming environment. Call Broadway Treatment Center today at (714)443-8218 to get help and get your life back.