HealthSix tips for preventing addiction relapse

Six tips for preventing addiction relapse

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Have you started on the road to recovery from addiction? Congratulations on taking the first challenging steps towards a drug-free life. You’ve come a long way.

Hold on to the motivation that gave you the initial boost because the process isn’t going to be an easy one.

Along the way, withdrawal symptoms and addiction triggers are likely to push you towards relapse; but don’t forget that the life you’re moving towards is much more promising than the one you’re leaving behind.

In times of stress, relationship problems, emotional disturbances, financial difficulties, etc., look for healthier ways of coping.

To help you move ahead with the journey, here are a few tips to help avoid relapse and come out clean.

  1. Follow your treatment aftercare plan till the very end

Recovery from addiction is not a single-step course. It takes time, and if left incomplete, relapse becomes more likely.

Recent statistics reveal that about 85% of addicts relapse within one year after completing treatment.

Long-term relapse prevention programs are designed to teach you how to manage or prevent the reoccurrence of drug use.

Relapse may begin with a single instance of drug use where you’re confident that you have things under control. After that, it would lead to an uncontrollable chain reaction of ‘just one more time’ until you’re back to square one.

Most treatment plans teach patients how to identify three common drug relapse triggers – mental, emotional, and physical – and develop strategies to cope with them.

Most renowned rehab centers like The Palm Beach Institute offer intensive outpatient programs and residential treatment options for relapse prevention.

Professionals monitor these personal and tailored treatment plans to help you manage relapse triggers effectively.

2. Recognize your triggers    

The experience of addictions differs for every addict. Some feel the need to indulge in the habit when anxious, while others turn to it when bored or lonely.

Reflect on the emotional and physical state you are usually in when you like to indulge. Do you think about consuming drugs when surrounded by others who do so?

Is there a particular behavior, scent, or sight that triggers the need? Once you have noted common triggers, avoid them as much as possible.

If a triggering situation is inescapable, work on distracting yourself from the feeling.

3. Use alternate healthy coping mechanisms

Stress is a significant obstacle to recovery, and since drugs are known for helping relieve stress and anxiety, they’re used in large amounts by the young generation.

Learn to use healthier coping mechanisms like deep breathing, which releases neurotransmitters that elevate your mood, minimize pain, and induce happiness.

Grounding techniques also help overcome thoughts that compel you to indulge in the urge. Use the 5-step grounding methods, which involves the five primary senses, to distract yourself.

To use this, whenever the thought intrudes, identify five things in your surroundings that you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one that you can taste.

In addition to these, distract yourself by engaging in a pleasurable activity, spending time in nature, exercising, talking to others, getting enough sleep, and eating healthy.

Meditation will also help reduce stress; sit in a quiet place, breathe deeply, and focus only on the present. Avoid mental wavering and push back intrusive thoughts.

4. Get social support

No one can understand you better than others experiencing precisely the same on your path to recovery.

If you had joined a social support self-help group before, those people are likely to provide a good source of motivation. This would also help you overcome feelings of loneliness, another common trigger.

A social group also allows you to participate in sober social activities that distract you from the urge to turn to drugs.

Secondly, having someone to hold you accountable for your actions over a publicly shared goal will discourage you from the ‘just this once’ mindset and, ultimately, from relapse.

5. Always have an emergency contact list at hand

Another useful relapse prevention strategy is to make a list of contacts of people also going through a similar recovery process.

Whenever you feel the urge to relapse, call someone you can trust to help you overcome the craving.

Everyone benefits from reminders; when someone reminds you about the reason behind your struggle for coming clean, it will motivate you to remain steadfast.

6. Learn to let go

In many cases, addiction results from excessive worrying that demands perfection in every step of life. With unrealistic expectations, individuals can’t maintain control in their lives, leading them to use drugs.

One way to maintain an inner calm is to learn to let go. Accepting things as they are, not worrying, and focusing on the present are great ways to divert your mind away from using drugs.

Pondering over the past or the present can lead to anxiety and negative self-evaluation. Being overly judgemental about yourself can make you bitter and resentful, and both trigger substance use.

Learn the art of self-compassion and make your self-image more positive.

Final words

Recovery from addiction requires time and constant effort. Relapse is one of the most serious risks for an addict on their way to complete recovery.

The urge to use drugs ‘one more time’ can spiral out of control and cause complete relapse. To avoid that, don’t abandon your treatment plan midway, identify the triggers, collaborate, and find alternative coping mechanisms.

Staying committed to living a drug-free life can be challenging, but relapse prevention will become easier with these tips.

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