Living clean and sober gives you a new chance at life. It is not always easy, and the path can be riddled with challenges, but you can do it if you really put your mind to it. To help you face some of those challenges, here are a few important methods for preventing relapse.
Understand Your Triggers
When you know what situations, thoughts or feelings can trigger you to relapse, you have a better chance of taking preventive steps before you start using again. There are both internal as well as external triggers. Triggers can include anything from deep loss to annoying drivers on the road, or even certain sights and smells. You won’t be able to avoid all triggers, and so it is better to be prepared. Learn what triggers you and come up with ways to cope with situations that cause you to start thinking of escaping. Many addicts and alcoholics admit that they are addicted to “out.” That is, they want or need an “escape” from their lives or from reality. Seek-out healthy alternatives such as sports, rock climbing or simply walking along the beach to clear your head when you find your self triggered and seeking a way out.
Go to Your Support Groups
People give many excuses for not going to support groups. You might feel you have been clean and sober for a while and have a handle on things, or you might feel ashamed or be wary of the feelings that emerge during the groups. Make yourself go anyway to remind yourself to stay clean and sober. If you hesitate going because you don’t feel a particular group is a good match for you, then look for another one. Getting and staying clean and sober is no easy task and it is extremely difficult to do on one’s own. Immersing ones self in a group of others who have been through what you are going through can be very comforting for the suffering addict.
Build your Positive Support System
The more clean and sober friends you have, the easier it is to stay on the path. Keep reaching out for support from counselors and other advocates, and keep contact phone numbers with you so that you can reach out at any time. Sometimes in recovery, people want to hide away or do it on their own. This is risky. There is nothing shameful or wrong about receiving support to keep from relapsing. They say that relapse is a part of recovery but it does not have to be.
Keep an Arsenal of Healthy Habits to Fall Back on
Exercise, meditation, deep breathing, sewing, crafts, are some methods people have used to replace old destructive habits. The moment you feel the urge to relapse into old ways, pick from your healthy habit arsenal to keep yourself busy and distract your mind.
Remember that the goal is to avoid relapsing, but if you find that getting or staying clean and sober is too difficult, considergiving yourself a break. Forgive yourself and seek help from your support group. A sober living community may just provide the support, organization and structure necessary to stay on the “straight and narrow” at least for the short term. A one-month stay at a sober living facility allows one to focus on one’s recovery without the diversion of life. Many sober living homes offer ancillary support modalities such as individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step meetings, meditation, art therapy, equestrian therapy and many other treatment-based activities to keep their residents occupied and healthy. Don’t use a weak moment as a reason to abandon your recovery.