Recovery from addiction is a long process and many people in Indiana and the U.S struggle with it. One of the main concerns for addicts, their treatment supervisors, and their families is relapse. In the context of addiction, relapse means going back to abusing drugs or alcohol after a period of abstaining. For an individual to have a successful recovery from drug abuse and addiction, they have to have had no incidence of relapse and if any, the symptoms indicating relapse were identified and dealt with in advance. In this article we will go over relapse prevention strategies for a successful recovery
Relapse doesn’t happen all at once. It is a gradual process that sometimes takes weeks or months before an individual picks up a drink or starts using drugs again. Recognizing the early warning signs before a relapse is the best way to prevent it from happening. Being able to recognize these signs ensures that you can give your loved one struggling with addiction the right support and resources they need to face whatever challenges they have before they resort to using drugs or alcohol again.
Some of the common early warning signs of relapse to watch for include the individual:
- Expressing self-pity and hopelessness.
- Expressing doubts about their ability to maintain sobriety.
- Expressing ideas minimizing their addiction and the problems it caused.
- Showing signs of depression or anxiety.
- Skipping therapy, recovery groups or other treatment activities.
- Appearing stressed out or having a hard time dealing with stress.
- Becoming increasingly withdrawn from social activities and situations.
- Starting to hang out with people who use drugs or alcohol.
Relapse Prevention Strategies to Enhance Long-Term Recovery
Identifying your relapse triggers.
If you’re recovering from addiction, sobriety might not come easily. It might be easy enough to cope when you’re in treatment –whether you’re in a partial hospitalization program or a residential program – because the environment enables you to concentrate on your recovery.
However, you still need to be aware of situations that might trigger a relapse. These triggers might include old friends you used to take drugs or alcohol with, experiencing uncomfortable emotions, stress from relationships or work or even experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Identifying your triggers puts you in a better place to prepare yourself to face them or avoid them altogether. For instance, you can change your friends and where you hang out to prevent tempting yourself.
Learning how to cope with your emotions.
Emotions often feel more intense for those recovering from an addiction. Both positive and negative emotions can trigger relapse so it’s crucial to learn to master or deal with them. The most common triggers for many recovering addicts are hunger, anger, loneliness and feeling tired – or the acronym HALT. Whenever you get a craving for drugs or alcohol, doing an inventory of HALT can alert you to what the actual problem is. That way, you can deal with the issue instead of running away from those emotions or using substances to drown them.
The key areas to focus on include, anger and depression management, conflict resolution skills, and also learning how to cope with positive emotions and experiences in a healthy way.
Being patient with yourself.
To prevent episodes of relapse, you must learn to accept yourself and your situation. This means not being in denial about your addiction or your recovery journey. Being a recovering addict brings with it a lot of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and fear. But just because you experience these emotions doesn’t mean you have to wallow in them or deny that they are there.
Accept that you were an addict and that it’s part of your past. At the same time, focus on working towards getting better and improving yourself. Keep in mind that recovery takes a long time and you’ll face difficult days and situations that tempt you to give up. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t make as much progress as you think you should. Just take it one day at a time.
Creating a positive network.
Interacting with others who have or are going through the recovery process allows you to build a support network. Your network can be an invaluable source of strength, accountability, and even education in your recovery journey.
Your network should be made up of peers who understand what you are going through. These should be people who have a positive influence in your life and who you can socialize with, share your life experiences and call on whenever you need help. Having such a network can keep you from loneliness and isolation which can drive you to relapse.
Developing grounding techniques.
Another great way to keep from relapsing is to develop habits that contribute positively to your life. This could be taking up sports, listening or playing music, keeping a journal, or any other hobby that keeps you busy, creative, and productive.
You also need to learn some grounding techniques to keep stress and anxiety at bay. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and mindfulness activities are excellent ways to keep focused on the moment, turning your mind away from negative self-talk and other unhealthy thoughts or feelings.
Additionally, taking care of yourself is a key part of an effective relapse prevention strategy. Self-care practices like eating healthy, exercising, and getting out in nature allow you to pay attention to your mental and physical health.
Get Started on the Road to Recovery
The fear of relapse and sliding back to addiction can be debilitating. However, it does not have to be if you are fully prepared with the right coping strategies and support. Learning these relapse prevention techniques and implementing them into your daily schedule can greatly help mitigate the risk of relapse.
Contact the Evolve Indy Recovery Treatment Center in Indiana to learn more about the various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs we offer as well as how our treatment specialists can help you learn relapse prevention strategies that work. Give us a call today, we’ll be glad to help you.