If you ask recovering addicts what one of their greatest fears is, most will answer relapse. What makes relapse so scary is that it is associated with failure. Even though this is not true, it’s still hard to pour 100% of your heart and soul into getting sober with the fear of relapse hanging over your head.
Even though we reassure clients that relapse can be prevented, it’s hard for them to understand how this is possible when they are relearning the skills and tools necessary to manage emotions and make smart choices. That’s why we break down the steps that recovering addicts can take to prevent relapse as much as possible. Here are eight of them.
1. Believe in Yourself
Temptation is everywhere. You can’t avoid it. But, as you begin to resist one temptation, you can resist another, and another. The more you let these urges pass without acting on them, the more you will strengthen neural connections in the brain that makes it easier to resist these temptations in the future. Believe in yourself and your willpower. Know that it gets easier the longer you try.
2. Be Proactive
Everyone has hard days. But recovering from addiction puts a new spin on having a bad day. If you are going through a rough time or feel that you are close to relapsing, be proactive and get help. Talk to your sponsor, attend a 12-step meeting or confide in a loved one. It’s easy to get restless and start obsessing over negative thoughts, but this can be helped by getting yourself in the company of someone.
3. Follow Your Aftercare Plan and Attend Meetings
Your aftercare plan is exclusive to you, and it offers an outline of what you should be doing each day to stay sober. Follow your aftercare plan by attending therapy and 12-step meetings and continuing alternative treatments like hypnotherapy, meditation or journaling. Don’t pull these tools away from you too soon, either. Many recovering addicts continue to need therapy and group meetings for the long term.
4. Take Care of Yourself
During recovery, you learn about how important it is to take care of yourself by eating a nutritious diet, sleeping regularly and staying physically and mentally active. The second you start slacking in these areas, the harder it gets to make healthy choices. Lay a healthy foundation by taking care of your basic needs so that you stay healthy, strong and capable of making the best decisions for yourself.
5. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
You already know that temptation is everywhere. The old hangouts you drive past. The songs you hear on the radio. So why put yourself in a direct line with drugs or alcohol? It’s best to avoid places where you know drugs and alcohol are present, such as bars, nightclubs and parties. It’s important to stay out of harm’s way as much as possible, but don’t confuse this as an exchange for fun. There are plenty of ways to have fun and enjoy life, so make smart choices with the places you go and the people you meet.
6. Remember You Are Not Alone
It can feel isolating being a recovering addict. Even though you may make friends in your meetings, returning home can make your feel like an outsider. Remember that you are not alone. There are many other people going through the same thing as you right now, and don’t forget about all the people who have been in your position already. Reach out to those who understand what you’re going through if you choose, but most importantly, know that what you are feeling is normal and expected.
7. Live Every Day to the Fullest
You’ve been given a second chance at life. This gives you a unique perspective on life that other people don’t have. Put this gratitude and graciousness to good use and live each day to the fullest. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, and you realize that we have little control over things. Take comfort in what the day has brought you and the progress that you have made thus far. Relish in the small moments that truly matter.
8. Stay True to Yourself
Recovering from addiction is a personal experience. Your experience won’t be the same as anyone else’s, so you shouldn’t compare your situation to others’. There is no one way to recover from addiction, and there is no timeline that you have to fit. Your recovery is your own personal journey. Have patience and take it slow. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. The only person you need to honest and true to is yourself.