Staying On Track
People in recovery often want to prove to themselves that they’ve conquered their addiction and can be around drugs or alcohol without a problem. This is a dangerous tactic. You might have avoided temptation so far, but this may not always be the case, especially in the early stages of recovery. For relapse prevention, it’s safer to steer clear of the people and situations that could lead to temptation. Try to stay away from places where you know there will be alcohol or drugs, and avoid places or events that may be emotional triggers.
It’s also important to avoid slipping into a state of complacency. Once you’ve maintained your sobriety for a while, it’s easy to lose motivation and feel like your usual 12-step meetings and other recovery efforts aren’t really necessary. You don’t have to keep up the same recovery program forever, but you do need to figure out what works for you and stick with it.
Relapse prevention is hard work, but the rewards of sobriety make the effort worthwhile. Long-term recovery requires constant awareness of your personal triggers and a strong commitment to stay sober. Once you’re aware of the people and situations that may propel you to use again, it’s easier to avoid those triggers and stay on track.
Prevention Tips that Work
- Detailed Planning: Some relapse prevention strategies fail because they lack detailed planning. The more general the relapse prevention plan, the less effective it becomes. Details are important because these are not just general concepts – these are vital life strategies used with the intention of maintaining your sobriety.
- Personalization: The best relapse prevention strategies also need to be personalized. If the plan isn’t designed to work for you, you may not be able to successfully put it into action, which puts your sobriety at risk.
- Find support: Join organizations that will support your sober life. From community recovery meetings to religious organizations to family groups, there are meetings all over the world. Destination Hope also offers a comprehensive aftercare and alumni program meeting several times each week.
- Make New Friends: Your friends from before rehab may no longer be the best people to hang out with – it is important you find a social support group that actively supports your sobriety. Being sober doesn’t mean you can’t be social.
- Gratitude Lists: Keep your gratitude list close, in your wallet or in your car. Update the list of positive things in your sober life – whether it is people, animals, feelings or accomplishments. Look at the list and remind yourself how far you have come.
- Watch for Triggers: You have to be on guard when you get out of rehab, so be mindful to remove as many triggers as you can. If stress triggered you to drink or to do drugs in the first place, find healthy ways to remove that trigger.
- Stay Healthy: Treat your body right when you’re in recovery, from sleeping enough to exercising and eating a healthy diet promoting proper nutrition. The better your body feels the better your emotional state will be and the less likely you are to relapse.
- Stay Busy: Staying busy is a common element of successful recoveries and aftercare programs. A few positive ways to occupy time include taking up a hobby, volunteering and spending time with sober friends and family members.
- Consider Outpatient Treatment: Outpatient programs allow you to go about your daily life and commitments but still offer reaffirmation of all the techniques and strategies from full-time inpatient treatment.
- Consider Educating Yourself: Education not only challenges you and allows you to learn new things; it can also advance your career and financial situation. Consider advancement within the recovery industry with The Academy for Addiction Professionals.
- Journaling: Affirm your feelings and activities with journaling. It will keep you accountable and provide you with a place to write about your struggles.
- Be Reasonable: Recovery is a journey, so be reasonable with the expectations you set for yourself. Achieve your goals incrementally – 5 days sober, 10 days sober, etc. Breaking it into smaller bites makes it easier to achieve success and ultimately those small successes will lead to a successful recovery!