Relapsing is the fear of every addict or alcoholic who wants to stay clean. There’s nothing more heartbreaking for you and your loved ones than getting some recovery under your belt only to fall back in the addiction cycle again.
But though it’s common, relapse doesn’t have to be inevitable. As long as you aware of the risks, you can plan to avoid the triggers that will send you back to drink and drugs quicker than you can say, ‘I don’t mind if I do.’
1. Support: join a support group that’s dedicated to supporting people staying clean. Whether it’s a 12-step group or other types of peer group support, they are proven to help people stay out of the relapse cycle.
2. Get positive people in your life: if you hang out with sober people who are living a clean life, you’re likely to say sober yourself. And … if you hang out with people who are drinking and using, guess what? Yep, you’re likely to do the same.
3. HALT: This stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired and is a self-care mantra in recovery circles. The idea is if you feel any HALT triggers, stop whatever you’re doing and meet your needs in a healthy way. This might mean eating, processing emotions in a positive way, seeking out good company, or resting. Looking after yourself in healthy ways means you’re less likely to use drink or drugs to feel better.
4. Find healthy coping strategies: Life is guaranteed to deliver you plenty of ups and downs and developing healthy coping skills is crucial to staying clean and sober. It’s different for everyone but some common coping strategies include talking through problems with trusted friends, having a spiritual practice, writing, exercising, art, music, cooking, gardening, meditation and being in nature.
5. Stay alert: Never forget that relapse is only as far as away as the end of your arm. Recovery takes work but if you find a recipe that works for you, you will stay sober one day at a time.