Recovery is a life-long process. Anyone who’s been through addiction therapy – or who has struggled with addiction for years – knows that relapse is a possibility at any time. It takes ongoing
work to maintain your sobriety and to continue building a healthy lifestyle.
Knowing your triggers for wanting to use drugs or alcohol is essential to helping you avoid relapse. When you know your triggers, you can avoid them or develop strategies for managing them so you don’t give in to the desire to use. Knowing the common reasons that urge people to relapse – boredom, stress, money problems, relationship problems, anger – can also help you to better understand your own urges and to employ effective strategies to maintain your recovery.
You will learn some effective skills for avoiding relapse during your addiction treatment. Here are 7 ideas that may be useful for you:
When you feel like you want to drink or use drugs, just HALT. Stop and ask yourself: “Am I hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?” Using drugs or alcohol is a way to deal with the discomfort that these feelings cause. Try eating a meal or taking a nap. If you’re angry, try talking it through with a friend or journaling. Call your therapist if the feelings are really intense. If you’re lonely, call a friend or a family member. If none are available, go out to a movie or a park and strike up a conversation with a stranger.
Get in the habit of recognizing your feelings and giving them a healthy outlet. Not only will you avoid relapsing, but you’ll also make yourself feel better so that these urges arise less frequently.
Anxiety, anger, and frustration can all make us feel worked up. Some of us want to punch something, some of us want to eat, some of us want to use drugs and alcohol. There’s a strong desire to expend that energy building inside.
You can calm yourself and squelch that urge by practicing deep breathing. Simply draw in a deep breath as you count to four, hold it for another count of four, and release it to a count of four. Repeat this process until you feel calmer. You can practice deep breathing even when you are not feeling overwhelmed just as a way to be more centered and to regulate your mood.
Deep breathing is a way to ground yourself when your emotions feel like they are overwhelming you. However, there are additional things you can do. While you breathe deeply, ground yourself by acknowledging five things you see around you. Acknowledge four things that you can touch. Then acknowledge three things you can hear and then two things that you can smell. Finally, acknowledge one thing that you can taste.
This is a simple process, but it helps you to bring your thoughts back to the present and to control your anxiety. It may be enough to fight your urge to use, or it may be enough to focus you so that you can take additional steps, like calling a support.
Meditation is another mindfulness technique that can help you ground yourself and to regulate your moods. Deep breathing is one of the simplest meditation techniques available. You can also try visualization, movement like walking, or guided meditations. Try signing up for a class or using an app to help get you started in your meditation practice.
You can meditate when you feel the urge to use drugs or alcohol, but you should also meditate regularly to help you get the most benefits from it.
Regular self-care can help you manage your mood, make you more resilient when big emotions and hardship arise, and just make you feel better able to handle whatever comes your way. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and sleep.
Besides that, self-care also means listening to your body and your emotions and giving yourself what you need. If you are feeling lonely, spend more time with friends. If you are bored, take a class and explore something new. If you are burnt out from work, spend a weekend doing something just for fun. The key is to strike a balance and to meet your needs as often as possible.
A good friend is a great source of support. If you are feeling tempted to use drugs or alcohol, call a friend you can trust to talk it out. You can talk out your desire to use, or you can talk through the situation that is triggering your feelings. Either way, you’ll likely dispel that energy and be able to talk yourself out of your temptation.
There’s nothing like other people who are going through recovery to help you through the process. Going to a support group allows you to talk to other addicts who have struggled with relapse (either avoiding it or giving in to it). People at the support group can help you talk through your feelings and give you tips for how to manage them so that you can stay on the road to recovery.
Recovery is a difficult process, but with the right support, you can make it through and create the life you want. Make sure you are also working with a therapist and an addiction treatment center in Mesa to get maximum support and to get to the root of your addiction so that you can break free from it forever.
Corebella Health and Wellness offers addiction counseling and treatment services in Glendale and Tempe. We are a drug treatment center and wellness clinic, offering services to beat addiction and to create a healthy lifestyle. We offer medication treatment with an experienced suboxone doctor, and we offer a range of counseling and therapy services. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.