5 Tips from a Recovering Addict on How to Avoid Relapse
Relapse is an unfortunately common occurrence in addiction recovery. Regardless of strength or will, sometimes the road to recovery from addiction can be extremely difficult. Sometimes to avoid relapse can mean going through discomfort and confusion. Whatever it takes is what we need to do. Relapse does happen, of course. We see it all the time. It’s important for me to state that relapse isn’t a sign of failure. Mistakes are all a part of the learning process, as long as we do learn from them. Relapse can be terrifying. Not only for the addict, but every person who cares for him or her. These fears can be amplified with every relapse. Some people relapse dozens of time before they get it. The reality is that sometimes relapse ends in death and there are no other chances to make this right. Hopefully this reaches some people and can help at least one person. If you feel like relapse is imminent, remind yourself of these 5 things. Thank you for reading and I sincerely hope this helps someone keep sober during their journey to recovery.
5 Things An Addict Can Do to Avoid Relapse
1. Understand Triggers and Know What Yours Are
In therapy we typically learn about our personal triggers. These triggers are what spark our desire to use, despite our knowledge of the health risks. They normally take the form of a specific, and sometimes difficult, situation or a specific place or time. When we know what our triggers are we can be better prepared to avoid them. However, if the triggers are somehow unavoidable, then we should work to develop a plan of action so that we can better face these triggers without relapsing as a result.
2. Remember that Temptation is Temporary
Research shows that cravings usually last no more than thirty minutes. Because of this, we shouldn’t give in to these fleeting feelings. Instead, we just need to wait them out to allow them to pass. Cravings, while agonizing in the moment, are ultimately short-lived. Thus, instead of allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by cravings we can look for healthy alternatives to distract us. One of the most effective methods of combating cravings is exercise. Various studies have proven that physical activity can help reduce or even eliminate cravings. Additionally, we might call someone in a 12-step program or in participate in some kind of productive task. Once the cravings pass we’ll return back to our previous state. Furthermore, with a good distraction in place the temptation of substance use won’t be so consuming.
3. Exercise is Good for the Brain
As previously mentioned, exercise can be an excellent way of not only improving one’s overall health but also avoiding the temptation associated with relapse. In an article from Psychology Today, they state that: “Exercise activates your body chemistry in ways that tell the brain that using is not important.” As such, we might consider hitting the gym after work rather than grabbing a drink or two and compromising our health. Exercise is a much healthier option, and can also help replace our cravings, thereby reducing our need to use. Of course, regular exercise is also a major contributing factor to an overall healthier body and mind, making it an excellent staple for our daily routine.
4. Practice Finding Peace Daily
Meditation is a great grounding activity, which makes it an excellent addition to one’s daily routine. Moreover, by now its well established that regular meditation comes with numerous mental and physical health benefits, including reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. This makes the practice particularly helpful in addiction recovery. Although it can be challenging at first, meditating for at least 30 minutes in the morning and evening can help restore calm and balance. This can help combat negative feelings caused by cravings.
5. Don’t be Too Stubborn or Scared to Ask for Help
Support is an essential yet often overlooked aspect of addiction recovery. Whenever we find ourselves in a situation where we feel as though we’re going to use, we should immediately pick up the phone and call for help. This help can come from a number of sources. For example, when in need we may call a treatment center, or someone we know who is also going through treatment. Other helpful resources include the central office of a 12-step program, a friend, a family member, or even an anonymous hotline where we can openly discuss thoughts and feelings in a safe, judgment free environment. Calling for help when needed can be vital to a successful recovery process. No one is perfect, after all. Asking for help when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness. When we ask for help, we can find the encouragement and support we need to continue on the path of recovery. It is through this love and support that we can overcome relapse and, ultimately, addiction.