Overcoming an addiction is a huge accomplishment. However, for many, successfully completing treatment is just the beginning. Remaining drug free and avoiding relapse can be challenging as well.
While there seems to be no sure-fire way to prevent relapse, here are some helpful hints that might keep you from falling back into old habits.
1. Develop A Support Network
When people are struggling with addiction, they tend to surround themselves with enablers, dealers and other users. Once they become clean, they may realize that their social circles needs to change and that healthier, more supportive friends may take the place of their ‘using buddies’. Although it may be difficult, it is important to break all ties with people who may pop up from the past, as they may drag you back into old habits. It’s a good idea to delete their contact information from your devices and delete and block them from social networks. Focus instead on your new, healthier friends and supporters.
2. Avoid Temptation With Drugs and Alcohol
Some reformed users think that they can handle being in situations where drugs and alcohol are present without being tempted to indulge. While this may be true of some people, it is best to avoid environments such as these at all costs, especially when you are in the early stages of recovery. This temptation may come in the form of a place where potentially abused substances are readily available, people who may pressure you to fall back into old habits, or emotional triggers that may cause you to seek escape in the form of drugs or alcohol.
3. Therapy After Rehab Is Helpful
As stated earlier, emotional triggers are a common cause of relapse. When things seem overwhelming, it is easy for reformed users to turn to drugs and alcohol. However, it’s important to learn to resolve these conflicts in a healthy way, and therapy can help. It’s a good idea to maintain weekly appointments with a therapist for a year or two after getting sober, as well as attending group meetings that can provide the tools to help you cope with your feelings while avoiding relapse.
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4. Get Plenty of Sleep
Addiction can tamper with your brain chemistry, causing many to lose the ability to get enough rest. REM sleep, the kind of sleep that helps the brain regulate its chemicals and reset the neurotransmitter systems, is rarely attained by those who are afflicted with addiction. Now that sobriety has set in, it’s time to make up for lost time. Sleep will provide health-restoring benefits the body so desperately needs. However, those recovering should note that it is important to establish healthy sleeping patterns and not isolate themselves from the waking world. This could be counterproductive as one wouldn’t want sleep to become their new problem.
5. Create a Healthy Schedule
Idle hands are the devil’s workshop…so it is important to fill your time by creating a healthy daily schedule. Ideally, this schedule should be created before patients leave treatment so they are immediately immersed in a lifestyle where temptation is not prevalent. This schedule may include the necessities of daily living, family time, work, therapy, meetings and sleep.
6. Understand That Relapse Is Not A Failure
Relapse does happen to many people. If it happens to you, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, thinking of relapse as a failure is the type of thinking that can make you fall back into old habits, so it’s important to keep positive. Remember, if you were able to beat addiction once, you’ll be able to do it again. It’s important to reach out to friends and family for support. You may need to revisit your recovery program. Think about what situations may have caused you to relapse and figure out how to avoid them, or how to cope with them in a healthier manner. This will help you become stronger on your road to recovery.
Recovery is not easy and relapse is a very real possibility for many people. That’s why it’s important to follow these helpful tips and think about creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself while still in treatment. However, you can’t live in fear of relapsing. Constantly worrying about something that may or may not happen is unhealthy.
And if it does happen to you, simply pick yourself up by the bootstraps and start over as a stronger person who can learn from their mistakes. The best of luck to you or your loved one in the pursuit of your goals for sober living.
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