Tips On Preventing Relapse
Sacrifice is necessary. Many addictions are tied to highly social activities: watching the game, catching a band, hitting the bar with friends. Sometimes, there’s simply no way to escape the addiction without also giving up something else, like a weekend routine or a group of friends.
Location is easier to control than addiction. Often, those who relapse say it seemed inevitable at the time. Although that’s not true, it is true that the choice to say “no” is far more difficult in certain environments. The easier choice came much earlier, when you decided to go to the party or visit the home of a friend where you knew your sobriety would be challenged.
Patience is a virtue. It’s difficult in the moment to remember what it was like to not want a drink. Like a patient with the flu, you have to remind yourself “This, too, shall pass.” Thirty minutes can mean everything. The first wave of a craving is the strongest; simply surviving makes it easier to keep going, simply because now you’ve proven that it’s possible. Distract yourself. Go for a walk. Watch an episode of your favorite series on Netflix. Play the most engrossing game on your phone. The key is to get through the first wave of your craving.
Replace a bad habit with a good one. We are creatures of routine, and research shows it’s far easier to replace a routine with a new one than it is to delete it altogether. If your old pattern was “stop on the way home for a drink,” replace it with “hit the bookstore on the way home.” If every Friday night was party night, trying to just stay home will never work; instead, make Friday night movie night. This becomes especially important on vacations and holidays—if your family’s July 4th ritual involves sitting around the backyard drinking, you’re going to need to communicate and plan ahead to change that routine.
Don’t fly solo. You can’t be held accountable if people don’t know what you’re dealing with. Talking about sobriety with your circle of friends is one way to build relational fences that can protect you from poor choices. They can help you through the low points, and when you’re feeling overconfident, they can talk you out of poor decisions: “Should you really go to the bar just to hang out?”
Things are going to get complicated. Life is tricky enough on its own terms. Car wrecks happen. Jobs disappear. Spouses grow apart. For recovering addicts, things that are survivable complications can spiral into tragic relapse. Have a plan up front for life’s roadblocks: know who you’re going to call, and talk to them about what you’ll need from them when things seem to be falling apart.
Don’t get complacent. Sobriety is hard-earned. You have to know that any decision to have “just one drink” is a potential first step back to addiction. Don’t make these decisions lightly, and it’s always wise to talk them through with a friend who’s familiar with your situation and objectively honest before making them.
Don’t quit. “Days sober” counts are helpful, but not the ultimate measure of success. Your goal is a meaningful life; don’t lose all hope because of a slip-up on day 50. It may feel like you just worked 50 days for nothing; remember, though: this time, you’ll be wiser from experience, and getting back to 50 won’t be as difficult. This growth mindset is crucial; without it, you risk viewing a relapse as permission to binge, since your streak is broken.
Use technology. With the new age we are living in there are more tools than ever to help in the early stages of recovery. Soberlink is a great way to stay accountable to your loved ones and recovery circle. Look into the numerous choices of apps and other technology to help aid in your recovery.