Recovering from addiction is hard work. Once you put in the effort to understand and get control of your cravings, you want to stay in control. You know temptation will arise. You want to be prepared to resist. What can you do to stay in recovery? Here are ten suggestions for how to prevent relapse.
Don’t Return to the Scene of the Crime
For most addicts, there are places with a strong connection to their addiction. Whether it is a bar where you used to drink, a casino where you gambled or corner where you bought meth, there is a location that will trigger your craving. Just stay away from places where you had a habit of making bad choices. Find new places to frequent where you feel healthy and comfortable.
Develop New Social Relationships
Addicts often don’t so much have friends as they have co-conspirators. Even if a person who you used to share your addiction with truly cares about you, they can’t help you if they are still pursuing addiction while you want to turn away. Your bond around addiction will be a powerful trigger. If you spend time together, it will be much more difficult to rise above temptation.
While you need to avoid social relationships that are unhealthy for you, you also have to avoid isolation. It’s difficult to make new friends, especially when you are going through a big change. How do you know what you would like your friends to be like, when you are just discovering who you are without addiction? Fortunately, many other people are going through the same struggle. You may find friends in addiction therapy groups. That brings us to our next topic….
Join a Support Group
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are free programs based on the Twelve Step Method that offer members a chance to meet with other addicts struggling to regain control of their lives. The program offers guidance and community. Many other types of support groups are available too. Sharing your experience with people who understand what it’s like to battle addiction can be an incredible relief. So much of the time addiction brings up feelings of shame. It is very healing to have a non-judgmental audience to listen to your story.
Formulate a Plan to Respond to Addiction Cravings
You know you are going to face some fierce cravings. What will you do when you feel that intense pull? Sometimes you may be able to handle the challenge alone. If you are prepared to answer the simple question “Can I resist addiction in this moment, just for this moment” with a resounding “I know I can!” you are on the right track. Mindfulness meditation and yoga can help you focus your mind on the present moment. When you learn how to live in the present, you find controlling a single moment is far less overwhelming than worrying about all the rest of your life.
Deep breathing and confident self talk can go a long way to controlling cravings, but sometimes you might need the help of another person. If you join a support group, you may be able to find a sponsor that can you can talk to you when you are feeling at risk. You may also be able to find other friends and family members who are willing to talk to you when you feel you need help.
Set Small Goals and Stay Motivated
Staying free of addiction is a big project. It can seem overwhelming. Allow yourself to focus on the present and set small goals. If you can stay clean today, that is all you need to do today. To help bolster your confidence in your own willpower, set other small goals for yourself. By doing things like setting aside 5 minutes for deep breathing, or making sure to eat a healthy snack, or go for a walk, you show yourself that you are in control of your life.
Take Your Medication
If you are a dual diagnosis patient, or have medication for addiction withdrawal, make sure to take it regularly as directed. Don’t miss a dose and risk letting a simple mistake trigger a relapse.
Know that Every Time You Choose Right, It Gets Easier
When you first resolve to turn away from addiction, you may find it is an intense battle every day. Faced with this unrelenting challenge, you may feel discouraged. How can you continue to avoid relapse when it is such a temptation? One day at a time. You have to do it every day, but that is only hard if you have to live every day at once. You get to live one day a time. And the good news? Every day you chose to resist addiction, your will power gets a little stronger, and your confidence increases. With guidance, you can develop tools for handling stress and achieve emotional sobriety.
Stay in Therapy
A good addiction recovery program will teach you a lot about addiction and provide you powerful tools to manage your addiction. You might leave feeling very confident. Certainly some people learn all they need in recovery and manage to avoid relapse without ongoing therapy. But considering what is at stake, why take the chance? Post rehab therapy can help you develop healthy habits that will help prevent relapse and give you an opportunity to talk through any problems you are facing.
Eat a balanced diet. Avoid refined sugars and get plenty of vegetables and whole grains. Physical health can affect mental health. Nutrition may be particularly important if you suffer from depression. Many addicts don’t eat a healthy diet. Choose to repair the damage done by addiction by mindfully choosing a healthier lifestyle. In the process, you will teach yourself that you are in control. Your choices make a difference. Your good choices make you feel better.
Sleep and Exercise
Navigating your way through the early days of recovery is an exhausting process. You will need plenty of sleep to allow your weary mind to process the emotions that arise when we begin to deal with stress without relying on addiction. Try to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. For most people, nine is better in times of high stress. Regular exercise also helps regulate stress hormones and keep your body feeling good.
Get in Touch with Our Addiction Recovery Experts
Seasons Bali offers general information and advice for addicts in recovery as well as complete residential rehab program and ongoing recovery support. Call us now (toll free Australia) 1800 288 348 or +613 9804 5757 or email us at [email protected] and we will call you. Talk to one of our friendly experts in addiction recovery today and take the first step on the road to recovery. It may be the most important thing you do today.