Addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that requires ongoing maintenance and attention. Although the beginning stages of any successful recovery almost always takes place in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, further steps must be taken after treatment in order for sobriety to be sustainable. Often times these steps are recognized as relapse prevention methods and are taught to patients in treatment to be utilized following their stay at the facility. Relapse prevention programs are also available as a form of aftercare therapy to help support long-term sobriety.
Relapse, similar to addiction recovery, is a process and not a single event. Both happen in stages and do not occur all at once. There are three stages of relapse that a person in recovery must be mindful of:
- Emotional Relapse
- Mental Relapse
- Physical Relapse
It isn’t until the third stage, physical relapse, that a person in recovery will actually use drugs or alcohol again. Recognizing and addressing a relapse in its’ early stages is vital, as this can prevent a physical relapse. Regularly practicing relapse prevention methods and attending aftercare therapy programs following drug and alcohol addiction treatment can greatly increase your success at preventing relapse.
There are a handful of relapse prevention strategies that are proven highly effective, especially when established early on in recovery. These include, but are not limited to:
Oftentimes, people in recovery assume that their willpower alone is enough to keep them from returning to drug or alcohol use. They have developed reliable coping mechanisms that have been effective at defeating cravings and urges to use thus far. Unfortunately, no matter how strong one’s will to remain sober may be, it is simply not enough on its own, and therefore, recognizing your triggers and taking the necessary measures to actively avoid them is crucial. No matter how much willpower you have, you must not underestimate the power of addiction.
Instead, it is best to avoid any situation that may potentially trigger cravings or urges to use, relying on willpower only in emergency situations. This technique allows little opportunity for failure, as you will have avoided any risky situation that could lead to the possibility of relapse.
Recognize That Eliminating Triggers Makes Recovery Easier
People working to overcome drug or alcohol dependence are regularly told that avoiding trigger situations in early recovery is essential to one’s sobriety. However, patients must acknowledge that eliminating these triggers altogether makes the recovery process easier, and not just avoid triggers because it is what he or she is told to do.
After completing treatment, it is all too easy to fall back into old routines and rituals, such as revisiting locations where they used to engage in substance abuse or hanging around old friends that he or she previously used with. These people and places are comfortable and familiar to the individual, making them all too appealing to return to during a time when their life is undergoing drastic changes. Early on in recovery, some people think they can return to their old social life without falling back into drug and alcohol use because they believe their willpower is strong enough to prevent triggers. However, doing so only puts more strain on the recovery process and will likely not end well.
Because of this, patients must recognize that removing triggers entirely from their new way will heighten success rates and make the road to recovery much easier on them. Establishing new and healthy routines that support your sobriety early on will help ensure your road to recovery runs smoothly.
As mentioned above, triggers and trigger situations are all too common, but when you plan accordingly, they can be avoided. Preparing and having an in-depth plan in place ahead of time to avoid hidden triggers and risky situations can help you stay on track in recovery. Hidden triggers are common among people in addiction recovery. It is important to recognize what your hidden triggers may be, so that you can devise a plan ahead of time to avoid the people and situations where these triggers may arise.
Hidden triggers are often present during certain times of the year, such as holidays or the anniversary of a tragic event. These are stressful times for everyone, but for a person in recovery, these events often bring about triggers. It is important to recognize whether or not these events are subconsciously a trigger for you, so that you can prepare accordingly.
By contacting your sponsor and attending support groups during these times, your relapse prevention plan will help you stay on track with your sobriety.
Don’t Test Your Limits
Keep in mind that you are still learning and healing while in recovery. Sometimes when people begin feeling confident and secure in his or her sobriety, they start testing their limits. This sense of security may lead the user to intentionally enter triggering situations just to prove to themselves that they have full control over their drug or alcohol use. Others take it a step further and convince themselves they can use their drug of choice “just once” or use recreationally and stop whenever they want. This rarely ever ends well and usually results in a relapse and a full return to drug abuse.
While in recovery for a substance use disorder, you are still healing, learning, and growing. Your drug of choice and be very deceiving and addiction is powerful. It forces you to lie to yourself and everyone you love and will make you believe that you can use one more time without consequences. This is also, and you must resist the urge to test your limits in order to prove your security in your sobriety. Focus on your healing in recovery and continue learning about your unique substance addiction so that you can continue progressing on in your recovery journey.
Set New Goals
Whether you have just finished treatment or have many years of sobriety under your belt, it is important to keep the momentum going and continue progressing through your recovery plan. Unfortunately, completing the stages of treatment is not the end of the road when it comes to long-term recovery. It takes a lot of work, long after you have left the facility. Addicts in recovery who have maintained their sobriety for decades will tell you that recovery is a way of life and you have to work your sobriety each and every day
Losing momentum in early recovery can risk failure, and therefore, it’s important to keep setting new goals for yourself. Making aftercare programs and alumni programs a part of your daily life is one of the most goals for you to set, which should be put in place immediately following treatment. However, setting new goals, such as incorporating health lifestyle choice like exercise and healthy eating into your life can also greatly support your recovery. Picking up new sober hobbies can also make your time in recovery more fun, active, and enjoyable.
Setting new goals and striving to achieve those goals will help you grow in recovery and better yourself from the inside out.
It’s common to feel like you’re losing momentum early on in recovery, but with the right efforts, you can keep things fresh and have what it takes to achieve strength in your sobriety. Each goal you accomplish in recovery is something to be proud of. Making and achieving new goals boosts confidence and keeps you on track in your recovery journey.
If you or someone you love is working in recovery or needs assistance overcoming drug or alcohol addiction, speak with the licensed professionals at Restore Health and Wellness today! Call (888) 979-4570 today and take back your life from addiction.