If you or someone you love has just completed treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, you should be proud of the accomplishment that has been made. During treatment, you learned a variety of tools that could help you stay on track with your goals to remain clean and sober. Following your aftercare plan is important, as it will provide you with a healthy schedule, as well as activities and tools that will keep you on the right path. Continuing to attend 12-step meetings and counseling is also helpful, as is sticking to a strict schedule. Although much progress has been made, you are still in the initial stages of recovery.
One of the greatest fears that recovering addicts and their families share is relapse. In fact, the fear of relapse can be so strong that it actually prevents some people from seeking treatment in the first place. No one wants to fail and experience the feelings of disappointment and frustration, but that doesn’t mean that the risk of relapse should stand in your way of a healthy and successful recovery. Although the risk for relapse in addiction cases is high, there are steps you can take to improve your odds.
Here are six ways that you or your loved one can prevent relapse.
1. Avoid tempting situations.
It can feel invigorating to leave your treatment center after being sober for a number of days, but don’t get too confident. You are still in the early days of recovery, and some recovered addicts can never return to certain locations or hang with old friends because the temptations are too strong. It’s hard to know what your limits are, so avoid places that may place you in the way of provocation.
2. Surround yourself with a strong support network.
It’s likely that the people who care most about your recovery have been on the outside of your life for quite some time. Still, these are the best people to surround yourself with – not your “using buddies.” Reconnect with the friends and family who lead healthy, drug-free lives and are in support of your recovery. If you’re having trouble connecting with these people, focus on strengthening the relationships with members in your 12-step group. In the meantime, sever ties with your old pals: remove their phone numbers from your phone, block their calls and delete them from social networking sites.
3. Stick to a healthy schedule.
During treatment, you learned the importance of creating a healthy schedule. When your hours are accounted for, you have less time to be bored. Your schedule should include a mix of work, family time, activities of daily living, treatment and meetings. You should also schedule in personal time, but plan activities to fill that time. The key is not leaving endless hours where frequent boredom will occur. Also, learning to create a new, healthy routine is important for long-term sobriety.
4. Don’t let complacency set in.
As you get further away from treatment, it’s easy to get complacent and even a bit overconfident. You don’t necessarily have to stick to a rigid schedule or attend meetings forever, but you do need to find some type of recovery program that works for YOU and keeps you in line. Addiction is a disease, so it’s not something that you can just forget about. You must acknowledge this disease and build a life that prevents it from returning (relapsing).
5. Attend support groups.
Find a support group that you like, whether it’s an AA meeting, a 12-step program or a simple support group at your local church. In addition to your family and friends, it’s important to meet with a group of people who are going through the same struggles as you. This allows you to share details about your recovery and receive support from people who are traveling the same road. As you move along through the various stages of recovery, you’ll appreciate the encouragement, companionship and sense of belonging.
6. Use a sponsor.
Having a sponsor is encouraged in 12-step programs, as this familiar face will offer the guidance and support you need. As you go through treatment, you will eventually be a sponsor to someone else, and this will give you added accountability toward another individual. For now, though, choose a sponsor and be sure to depend on this person when necessary. They have been on your side before and can offer the personal experience that others lack. A sponsor can also introduce you to tools and resources that will aid in your recovery.