Four Tips for Preventing Relapse

Most people who are recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol know that relapse is not uncommon.  Addiction is something that you will struggle with for most of your life even after completing a detox and rehab program that helps you get back to where you want to be. There are a few things that you can do whether you are currently in a detox and rehab program or if you have already completed a program that can help you plan ways to help you in preventing relapse.

1.  Plan for Trigger Situations

In therapy, you are likely to have made note of your triggers.  Maybe some of your triggers include being with a certain group of people or going to a certain location.  Getting your list of triggers out on paper can help.  Once you have a clear idea of what your triggers are, create a plan for each one so that you know how to handle these high risk situations before they even occur.  Because you have the plan made out in advance, you will already know what you need to do when you are confronted with a situation  Since you already know what to do, you will not need to be anxious about being confronted and you will be able to take the necessary steps to avoid a relapse.

2.  Prepare for Dealing with Internal Triggers

Internal triggers may not be triggers at all.  They may feelings or urges that are very powerful and could easily lead you to a relapse.  These feelings could be brought on by an external trigger like seeing someone you were acquainted with during active addiction or driving by a bar you used to frequent.  They could also be thinking or daydreaming about the past, remembering some of the good times you had, or missing the people you knew then. While it is certainly alright for you to think back on your past, you do not want to get so caught up in it that you cannot stop yourself from heading back there.

Generally, if you wait a little while, most cravings will dissipate within 30 minutes.  You can also distract yourself.  Call a friend to have chat you have been putting off.  Take a walk or read a book.  Any positive activity that you can use to distract yourself is a good idea.

3. Keep Busy But Relaxed

You will need to be on guard much of the time especially in the first few months after you are finished with your detox or rehab program to be sure that you are doing all of the right things and following your doctors’ orders, keeping up your follow up appointments, and using the tools you were taught.  But you will need to take some time to relax.

When you get tense, your tendency will be to fall back into old patterns rather than keep going with your new lifestyle. Find ways to keep yourself relaxed.  Choose a time each day for meditation or reflection.  Do some yoga or get some other kind of exercise.

4.  Take Good Care of Yourself

You are more likely to relapse when you are not sleeping well and not taking care of yourself.  When you do not feel good, you will look more fondly on the times you were using drugs or alcohol and you did feel good.  It is very important to get enough sleep.  That may sound easier said than done, but by using relaxation techniques, turning down the lights in the evening, avoiding screen time an hour before you plan to sleep, and making a routine bedtime for yourself, you should be able to get that much needed shut-eye.

Another important and often overlooked element involved in taking care of yourself is eating the right kinds of food.  Pack your diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins.  All of these things will build up your immunity and give you the energy you need to fight the good fight.

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