If you’ve recently completed detox and rehab programming and are in the early stages of addiction recovery, you are fully aware that each day offers challenges to your sobriety.
Everyday life can be filled with stressful occurrences, unpredictable levels of craving, and dangerous triggers that could lead to relapse.
A relapse occurs when someone gets clean and sober and then starts using drugs or alcohol again. Some may suffer a relapse during the early stages of recovery, while someone else may relapse after decades of sobriety.
One of the most important things to realize as you navigate your own personal recovery journey... is that you’re not alone. Being enrolled in sober living programming or living in a transitional community with others facing similar challenges each day offers structure and support for you.
To help manage your sobriety, it’s important to first make a commitment to staying clean and sober every morning when you wake up and offer gratitude to your recovery progress every evening before you go to bed.
Addiction is a chronic disease, and while the possibility of relapse is a reality in the world of recovery, here are 5 preventative measures that you can incorporate into your daily life that can help you prevent a relapse.
1. Be Mindful Of Your Feelings Every Day
Feeling anxious, depressed, or frustrated is a normal part of any life, but these are strong emotions that can sometimes overwhelm someone who struggles with substance abuse. It’s important to be aware of your emotions as you work to develop healthy coping strategies to ensure you are taking care of your mental health, which if neglected, could lead to a relapse.
A simple and effective way to self-assess your emotional levels is to create a list of your negative feelings such as anger, fear, frustration, stress, guilt, shame, and self-doubt. Place a column next to each emotion and rank each one daily (maybe before bedtime) on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest levels of that emotion. You can then work to identify the source or cause of chronic high emotions and develop healthy coping strategies to help diffuse these emotional triggers.
2. Know Your Triggers And Avoid Temptation
In the early stages of recovery, you are more likely to encounter situations that set off a strong desire to start using again. These types of triggers can lead you to feel vulnerable and may increase the possibility of a relapse.
There are two types of triggers that need to be identified: internal (negative emotions and feelings) and external (people, places, or things that remind you of your past use). Making a list of your internal and external triggers is the best way to gain awareness of what could trigger you and reduce the risk of relapse.
Think every day about feelings, thoughts, certain people, and situations you found caused a desire to use in the past, knowing these are triggers.
You’ll then want to avoid any situations that may place you in the way of temptation.
For example, you want to avoid going to places where there will be substances available or where there will be reminders of your pre-recovery addiction lifestyle. More importantly, If you know someone is a trigger, then you must avoid people who were tied to your substance abuse, even if it means that someone needs to be removed from your life.
3. Join And Connect With A Support Group
While in recovery, you need to be surrounded by people who are supportive of your recovery. These support circles can be family, friends, and those who are part of a 12-step or other sober support groups, but most importantly, they must not be engaging in substance abuse themselves.
Having positive and supportive people in your life will be able to provide you with the encouragement, enthusiasm, and accountability you need to remain on track in your recovery.
Living in a sober-living community during your early stages of recovery, for example, allows you to become part of a family of peers and mentors, who all support each other while encouraging and maintaining a clean and sober lifestyle.
Participating regularly in 12-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can further prevent relapses as they help decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which are common triggers for relapse.
4. Practice Self Care
To focus so much time and energy on yourself and your own personal health and wellness can seem selfish at first. Especially when you’ve learned that selfishness is a common and hurtful trait of people who suffer from substance abuse.
Yet, it’s important to take care of yourself when you’re recovering from addiction. After all, you can’t take care of the people you love if you’re not caring for yourself. Instead of neglecting your loved ones as you did in the grips of addiction, everyone is benefiting from the time and effort you’re putting into bettering yourself.
An effective strategy in avoiding relapse is to incorporate some form of relaxation technique into your daily life. Whether it is yoga, mindful meditation, prayer, or listening to quiet music, dedicating 15 minutes of every day to some form of relaxation practice will help ground you and keep your mind focused on the now as part of a holistic restoration approach to recovery focusing on mind, body, and spirit.
Implementing physical exercise and a balanced diet will in turn improve your quality of sleep, a critical aspect of reducing the risk of relapse.
5. Stay Busy With Healthy Activities and Hobbies
As someone in the early stages of recovery, one of the biggest threats to your sobriety is boredom. This makes sense: If you’re bored, you’re more likely to think about drugs or alcohol and glorify past situations when you were actively using.
A great way to stay busy, and to ward off boredom, is by picking up a new hobby. Activities such as video games, exercising, writing stories or poetry, reading, or even volunteering can go a long way to reducing the risk of relapse.
Although there’s nothing wrong with resting and relaxing, large blocks of free time can be filled with healthy and productive activities to minimize idle time and maximize your chances of avoiding a relapse.
JacobsWay provides safe and structured sober living and holistic restoration in transitional homes for men and women. If you or a loved one are struggling on your journey toward a life free from addiction, contact JacobsWay today for information on how we can help.