Tips on Avoiding and Preventing Relapse
Once an individual has completed rehab and entered the maintenance phase of recovery, the real test begins. Instead of being surrounded by fellow recovering addicts, counselors and strong family support, the recovering addict finds himself in a brave new world of temptation, pressure and obstacles. This is true for anyone but these challenges can present difficulties to the newly recovering addict.
Here are a few tips to remember as you begin your new life, clean and sober:
Stay in the Program
Just because you’ve left the rehab treatment center or you are no longer attending daily outpatient therapy sessions does not mean you are on your own. By staying in a support program, perhaps for years, you can continue to reinforce the skills you’ve learned along the way. You can apply the principles of recovery to your daily life by consistently reminding yourself there are people to help you. Attend NA or AA meetings every day on your lunch hour or on your way home from work. You’ll make friends who understand who you are and where you come from, and you can support each other as you face the temptations of everyday life.
Stay Away From Harmful Influences
It is not uncommon for the recovering addict to want to share their new lifestyle with friends or family members who have not yet made the leap into recovery. Unfortunately, these same “friends” who shared the addiction experience with you may, in turn, bring you back into a lifestyle you would rather avoid.
It is better, at least until you are firmly rooted in your recovery, to refrain from contact with people and locations that bring your former life back into the forefront of your new world. In order to increase your chances for staying clean, create new connections and new friendships in a healthy community.
Change Habits and Routines
Do you drive to work through a neighborhood where you have used or purchased drugs? Find a new route to work. Do you spend every Friday night at a local club because you enjoy the atmosphere and music? Find a new hobby. Is your favorite section of the beach a local hangout for the high-powered executives who like to unwind a little on the weekends? Find new waves.
Making changes in your life is difficult. Saying goodbye to old ways of doing things and former activities you’ve enjoyed can bring on feelings akin to grieving. It is perfectly acceptable to grieve for these losses, but it is important that you make the changes you need in order live your life without the everyday temptations that these former aspects tend to bring.
Surround Yourself With Healthy People
One of the most important rules of a drug-free life is that the life is, in fact, drug free. A zero-tolerance policy concerning drugs is essential to making sure your life is unaffected by the choices of others. It is easy to believe that everyone has a choice – that you have no right to make choices for others. If they wish to use casually, they have that right. As true as this statement may be, you also have rights. You also have choices. You can choose to not allow these individuals into your life. You are not a casual user. You are a recovering addict. Your life is more important than your friends’ desire to get high.
Ask for Help
Perhaps the most important tip of all, remembering to ask for help can literally save your life. Especially in the early days of recovery, temptations to use will come in many forms. Got your job back? Let’s celebrate! Your childhood pet passed away? You may be tempted to escape the pain, as you have in the past, through the use of drugs or alcohol.
It is in these moments that asking for help is so vitally important. There are several ways you can ask for help:
- Call your AA or NA sponsor, regardless of the day or time.
- Call your pastor or deacon if you’re a member of a church.
- Call a trusted family member.
- Call your rehab facility or get in touch with your counselor.
- Visit a local emergency room and explain the situation.
Before you choose to use, make sure you think about the strides you’ve made and what using will really cost you.