Know the signs of emotional and mental relapse.
Before you can implement any relapse prevention tips, you need to have a thorough understanding of what relapse is.
Being able to recognize the signs of relapse will enable you to ask for help quickly when it’s needed most.
Common signs of emotional relapse often include mood swings, isolating oneself, being angry or defensive, and poor eating and sleeping habits.
Signs of mental relapse include fantasizing or thinking about using drugs or alcohol, glamorizing past use, lying about your feelings or behaviors, and hanging out with old drug-abusing friends.
Be aware of how you’re feeling, emotionally and physically.
Feeling anxious, depressed, or angry is a normal part of life, but strong emotions like these can sometimes be detrimental to an addict in recovery. If you’re newly sober, it’s very important to be aware of your emotions and find healthy ways to cope with them, such as going for a walk with your dog, spending time with your sober living roommates, or talking to your counselor. Although you’ll have good days and bad days, maintaining a sense of self-awareness can help you tackle personal problems and issues before they morph into a full relapse.
Fill your free time.
Although boredom is actually a part of every addict’s journey to full recovery, it can be a serious threat to a person’s sobriety. Feeling bored and empty can make it very easy to relapse so it’s important to fill your free time each and every day. Although there’s nothing wrong with resting, hours of free time can be filled with healthy and productive activities like exercising, volunteering or experimenting with a new hobby like painting.
Resist the urge to skip support group meetings.
Some days it may be extremely tempting to skip your support group meetings, but one skipped meeting can easily lead to two, and before you know it, you might be completely disconnected from your recovery support group. Maybe you feel particularly discouraged or unmotivated. Or maybe you just don’t feel like sharing. Whatever the reason, push past it and go to your meeting anyway. Confiding in your sponsor or asking one of your sober living roommates to go to the meeting with you might help you resist the temptation to skip and help you stay accountable, even on a day when you’re struggling.
Carry your emergency contact list with you wherever you go.
A big part of relapse prevention in addiction recovery is just being prepared. If you don’t already have one, you should create a list of people in your life who you can reach out to if you feel particularly discouraged or you ever feel tempted to use drugs and alcohol. This list might include your sponsor, your sober living roommate(s), and your counselor, among others. Take that list with you wherever you go. Keep it in your purse or your wallet and make sure it’s easily accessible so you can get to it when you need it most.
Always have a backup plan.
You may have completed rehab, be enrolled in sober living, and feel great about your recovery, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Addiction recovery is something that requires consistent work and daily effort, and it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of over-confidence. Whether you’re attending a family function or you’re headed to an event for work, you should always have a backup plan and discuss it with your sponsor before heading out for the day or evening.
Take care of yourself first.
Of all the relapse prevention tips and strategies out there, this is one of the most important. Although it may feel selfish to focus so much time and energy on yourself and your own personal health and wellness, it’s important to take care of yourself whether you’re recovering from addiction or not. Additionally, you can’t take care of the people you love if you’re not caring for yourself, so your spouse, children, and loved ones are all benefiting from the time and effort you’re putting into bettering yourself.
Invest your time in building healthy relationships instead of lingering on old, unhealthy ones.
In drug rehab, you probably spent some time making amends with friends, family members, and other relationships that were damaged due to your drug and alcohol abuse. For many people, the amends-making process continues on into a sober living program and even well into independent sober living. Unfortunately, some relationships cannot be mended and others should not continue to go on for the sake of your sobriety. It may be tempting to go hang out with old drug-using friends, especially when you’re feeling discouraged and tempted to use, but it’s much more healthy and beneficial for your sobriety to confide in those who do support your sobriety.
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