Relapse: the elephant in the recovery room. The thing that looms over every recovering addict’s head. It can happen at any time, sneak up on you when you least expect it. Will today be the day that I use again? Will tomorrow be? Although it’s very common to experience these thoughts in recovery, you definitely don’t have to have them. At Footprints of Serenity, we want to rid the elephant of the room. We want to openly talk about relapse and let you know that with the right coping strategies, relapse is preventable.
So, What Is a Relapse?
Relapse is the term used when an addict is in recovery and starts using drugs or alcohol again. Relapses can happen at any time. Sometimes someone relapses right after they complete detox and sometimes people relapse after being sober for 10 years. Like an addiction, relapse can take many shapes and forms. Relapse can be a vicious cycle of getting sober, making a mistake, feeling bad, then using again. Relapse can also be an ‘innocent’ slip up – like having one drink because nothing will happen to you if you just drink one beer.
Relapse is common in recovery and sobriety so if you have relapsed, don’t let it get in the way of you getting sober again. Just because you relapse doesn’t mean you can never achieve long term sobriety. Whether you’re new to recovery or have relapsed, below are some tips on how to prevent a future relapse.
How to Prevent a Relapse
There are a few tips that people can follow to help them maintain sobriety. Some of the most important tips to remember include:
Tip 1: Although relapse can technically happen at any time during your sobriety, there are warning signs that will let you know you’re on the brink of relapse. All relapses will start in your mind before anything actually happens. If you can be in tune with yourself, and spot the mental signs, you can reach out for help before it happens. Common signs are feeling like you want to isolate, feeling hopeless or like nothing else matters, feeling angry, feeling unmotivated to take care of yourself, starting to think about what it would be like to drink or do drugs again.
Tip 2: Be aware of how you’re feeling. This includes both physically and emotionally. If you aren’t totally aware that you’re anxious, depressed, or angry often, you may not be able to realize you’re on the verge of a relapse. All of the negative feelings mentioned can trigger drug or alcohol use. By staying in touch with your emotions, you can determine whether or not you need to talk to someone, attend a support group, or do some self-care, instead of turning to drugs or alcohol.
Tip 3: Stay busy and productive. Boredom is going to happen from time to time and it is important to learn ways to manage boredom in recovery. Constructive hobbies like exercise, reading, and writing, are all healthy ways to cope with boredom. Feelings of excessive boredom and restlessness can lead to feelings of not having a purpose, which can lead to a relapse.
Tip 4: Prioritize sobriety. The most effective relapse prevention tip is to work at recovery every day. Unfortly addiction is a chronic disease. There’s no magic pill you can take to make it go away. Actively working on recovery daily can look like a lot of things: you can attend 12-step support groups, you can meditate, you can make a gratitude list, or go to individual therapy. Addiction is different for everyone so it’s only natural that working at sobriety is different for everyone as well.
If you’re sober and experience a relapse, don’t be discouraged. Relapsing doesn’t mean you will never be sober. Relapse is just a bump in the road. The most important thing to do if you relapse is examine why it happened. You can then use that information in the future to avoid future relapses.
We’re Here to Help
At Footprints of Serenity, we are a drug & alcohol intervention service provider located in the gorgeous area of Southern California. We also provide services such as recovery coaches, recovery companionship, detox placement, treatment placement, addiction counseling, relapse prevention, and transportation for your recovery needs. Reach out to us today & let us know how we can help you.