Abstaining from drug use does not wholly depend on willpower or strength of character.
If it did, 60 percent of addicts in recovery could simply utter the magic words and instantly stop their dependency in its tracks.
Scientific research indicates that drug addiction is a disease that takes years to repair the damage done to the brain and even then, the urge to use is just a sneeze away- occurring suddenly and making cheddar cheese of your resolve to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
Relapse may be a normal part of the recovery process, but you don’t have to give up without a fight.
Getting back control of your life, building your sense of self-worth, and living a healthy fulfilling life more than makes up for the effort required to stop using the drugs that have robbed you of your health and mental wellness.
To that end, here are some of the best ways to prevent a relapse.
Stay in Therapy
To successfully kick an
addiction and make it stick, you must open the cobweb ridden mental cabinet of all your painful memories and raw emotions.
Addiction is a clever dependency. It knows that the chink in your Abstinence Ar
mor is your emotions.
These emotions are the very things you experience when you try to drink yourself into a stupor or snort into oblivion to forget. Your hidden feelings will set you up nicely for a relapse down the road.
At first, you won’t be consciously thinking about resuming drug use. You will unconsciously start isolating yourself, failing to go to meetings and if you do go, not sharing your experiences, focusing on other people’s problems, and neglecting self-care.
Soon enough, you will begin to feel uncomfortable in your skin. You are restless, irritable, and discontent.
As the tension builds, you look more keenly to using and abusing as a means of escaping reality.
Ongoing therapy sessions give you a neutral third-party to discuss the issues you are facing.
A professional therapist is trained to identify Eau de Relapse from a mile away. From the changes in your thought process and emotional state to behaviors that herald an oncoming relapse.
Addiction goes hand-in-hand with all-or-nothing negative thinking where the advantages of abstinence are overlooked, and the ensuing consequences diminished.
In therapy, you will learn how to adjust this maladaptive thinking by exploring the short-term positives and the possible far-reaching consequences of going to back to drug abuse.
Denying your body and not minding the self-care it so desperately calls for will most assuredly kick you off Recovery Street and onto Relapse Lane.
That’s why your addiction therapist will constantly ask: “Do you feel tired?” “When did you last take time off work to go have fun?” or “Do you feel you are good to yourself?”
These questions may seem like meaningless pleasantries, but how you take care of yourself points to your level of self-worth and self-esteem.
Addiction makes you feel worthless and undeserving of human affection or consideration. During treatment, you learn how to love yourself again and appreciate all the things you deem imperfect. That being the case, you take better care of yourself.
Self-care means putting the needs of your recovery above all else.
An excellent way to monitor how well you are practicing self-care is the acronym BHALT: bored, hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Whenever you experience any of these emotions, your behavior can become irrational, and you are likely to make a snappy lousy decision.
Don’t jeopardize your recovery.
If your anxiety manifests as fidgeting, find something to do that requires the use of your hands, quiets the constant chatter in your mind, and keeps boredom at bay.
Make sure to always have a ready meal in your fridge and a snack close by to combat hunger pangs. And when life throws you a curveball, let yourself ‘feel’ the feelings, use the techniques learned in therapy to put your emotions into perspective.
Attend meetings to cross paths with people going through similar challenges.
You will stop feeling like it’s just you having a difficult time, and get to see first-hand how sticking to the process leads to a fulfilling, happy life.
Learn from Setbacks
People in recovery often view setbacks as a mark of failure, punishing themselves for failing to meet expectations.
In addiction treatment, a setback refers to the behaviors that lead a recovering addict to relapse. For instance, putting oneself in high-risk situations, failing to set healthy boundaries, disregarding any of the rules of self-care, and frequently missing therapy sessions.
Not all the setbacks instantly lead to a relapse. But if the situation continues, Temptation will rise before you. She will smile her siren smile, crooking her finger, and the urge to use will be more than you can handle.
Why do you think addiction is commonly referred to as a disease of perception?
An addict sees the setbacks as confirming the negative image they have of themselves.
Since they feel they cannot live life on life’s terms, they set their own. They are leading you to slip back to using and causing an even greater sense of failure. And so begins the vicious cycle. Soon enough, you forget all the progress you’ve made and start to doubt whether recovery is worth all the effort.
Because setbacks are a natural part of the recovery process, learning from them will go a long way in preventing future relapses.
Setbacks are caused by insufficient relapse prevention planning and inadequate coping skills, all factors that can be fixed.
Recovering from an addiction is a life-long process, taking an all or nothing standpoint regarding your progress will make long-term sobriety seem unachievable.
Look at your past successes and don’t let the setbacks lead you to abandon your goals for short-term relief from the pain of perceived failures.
Who doesn’t like to have fun?
One of the reasons addicts are reluctant to seek treatment is because they fear that sobriety will be dull and boring. That being the case, redefining fun is a meaningful way to safeguard from relapses.
Your dependency has taught you to equate the word fun with the thrill of a high. Now that you are trying to shake off the habit, you need to find other ways to define fun.
Otherwise, you will soon start to glamorize the times you were still using and look back on the events with nostalgia. Recovery will begin to feel like punishing work and addiction as the glory days. Everything you have gained from turning your life around will seem insignificant.
Yes, recovering from an addiction is hard work. But if it were easy, no one would want to quit because it wouldn’t be a disease. You would simply stop using, and that would be the end of the habit.
People have this unique ability where if they expect to have fun, they usually do, and when they expect not to, they simply won’t. With the help of therapy, you can learn to think about pleasure and fun in a new way that supports your efforts for long-term recovery.
Having fun while sober may not come naturally at first, but if you keep it at, you will find joy in a variety of everyday activities.
Fun for you may not be going boat riding, learning to salsa, or painting a Picasso. It may be simply watching a rerun of Game of Thrones or meeting a friend for coffee.
Don’t let other people’s outdated beliefs about what fun entails to deter your enjoyment. You will find that soon enough, you begin to wonder whether the ‘fun’ you had when using drugs was ever really fun at all.
There’s no point in lying to you here: the threat of relapse is a shadow that will constantly follow you throughout the recovery process.
Although you are aware of the negative repercussions of using, there is comfort in the familiar even when the familiar is far from ideal.
The idea of facing life challenges without bravado drugs and alcohol lend seems frightening.
Fear is the hard-wired response to a situation that hasn’t happened yet but might be unpleasant.
Despite most of the fears of recovery being mere flights of fancy, failure to overcome them may deter all your efforts to stay sober.
The first step in overcoming fear is acknowledging your fears. Thinking or saying you are afraid to relapse won’t automatically make it happen. Just the contrary. It gives you back the power fear took from you.
Essentially, what you are saying is, “I am in control.”
In this instance, it is not the thought that counts but the action that follows. You have accepted the possibility that a relapse can happen.
By doing so, you have deprived the fear of the power to haunt you and make you feel like a relapse is no longer a possibility but a sure thing, and there is nothing you can do to change that.
Relapsing may feature somewhere in your future, but for the present, it no longer has you chained in a perpetual wait for its arrival like the Second Coming.
Becoming Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
Let that sink in.
A big part of your recovery will be participating in unfamiliar activities: sharing in support group meetings, attending therapy, repairing damaged relationships, and building a support system made of positive sober individuals.
Those are a lot of changes.
If you don’t accept that things may not always go over well and take it all as part of the process, then your journey in recovery will come to a screeching halt.
Yes, the comfort zone offers protection from the possible pain of changing and becoming a different person. But if you don’t leave its limiting confines, you will be like a broken record, stuck playing The Destructive Behaviors- the cause of your addiction.
All addictions are comfort zones.
Typically, people use drugs as a baby blanket from the harsh realities of everyday life. You are becoming comfortable being uncomfortable means that you have chosen to do away with your shield and take life by the horns.
You have opened up yourself to experiencing new things and rediscovering yourself as a sober person.
Because you have accepted and are happy with your circumstances, you feel no need to escape into addiction.
Live in the Moment
A common phrase in the addiction community is “live one day at a time.” The saying isn’t just another superficial encouragement.
It refers to the importance of sobriety and the gratitude the recovering addict feels about its current presence in their life.
Addiction is a life-long incurable disease. Trying to look at the long road ahead of you makes the prospect of long-term sobriety seem unachievable.
A one day at a time approach to life is an easier pill to swallow. That being the case, the individual accepts that each day they choose to stay clean.
Worrying about what may happen tomorrow or feeling guilty and ashamed because of previous mistakes only adds to your stress level, which can cause a relapse.
Focus on the here and now to learn coping skills that will prepare you for the future and teach you how to handle the past.
Living in the moment allows you to ‘feel’ your feelings. At first, this may be overwhelming since all the feelings you tried to bury with addiction come flooding all at once.
Nevertheless, preventing a relapse will hinge on you sorting through your emotions and understanding what led you to addiction.
No matter how meticulously you prepare an addiction prevention plan and acquire coping skills in your Recovery Armor that rival the artillery of any superpower, a relapse may still feature in your journey to recovery.
Relapsing doesn’t mean the end of your journey. It just means that the stone in your shoe you have been ignoring for the last sixty miles needs to come out, which can be fixed.
Do what needs to be done.
If that means taking another go at rehab, examining and adjusting your recovery treatment plan, or moving into a sober home, do it.
Be grateful that you survived your relapse and made it through the other side; very many don’t.
If you need help with your recovery, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.
The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with all of your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment. Call anytime.
Chateau Recovery Center 375 Rainbow Lane
Midway, UT 84049, USA http://chateaurecovery.com
If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.
Why many addicts relapse, and how they can quit for good.
A veteran family therapist proposes that “relapses” (resumption of toxic addictive thinking and behavior) occur because addicts haven’t hit true bottom and learned other ways of managing significant inner pain. The video suggests that 12-step programs have limited success, but don’t educate addicts well enough on how to how to reduce inner pain and avoid relapsing.