7 Top Tips To Prevent Relapse
Okay, so you’ve managed to stop the alcohol, drugs or the activity you became destructively addicted to. Now for the really hard part, maintaining your recovery and preventing relapse. The responsibility of maintaining your recovery is yours and yours alone, although asking for help and guidance is always recommended.
Here are the top 7 tips to prevent relapse:
1. Practise Self Care
Self-care is a very important part of recovery. Some will have no idea what self-care looks like or consists of, as they have loathed and neglected themselves for so long. By self-care, we mean looking after yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
Eat a healthy balanced diet and take regular exercise and fresh air; exercise can be adapted to all levels of fitness. If you can’t motivate yourself to join a gym, take regular walks listening to some uplifting music and taking in the scenery or join a class and try something completely new. Take care of your exterior and interior and ensure you rest when you need to.
Keep stress to a minimum, avoid any unnecessary stress if you can. Exercise your mind by learning something new that is enjoyable, through education, a class or a course. Get your brain working again and occupied. If you suffer from memory problems due to your addiction, start with simple puzzles and word games. Find something that mentally stimulates and interests you.
Take time out for yourself on a daily basis, to connect with your truth, with a God of your understanding, with nature, or with a spiritual practice that you find uplifting and relaxing. Meditate, practice relaxation techniques, do something that you love but lost in addiction, such as art, drama, films, cooking, books. Reinspire yourself by helping others to achieve what you have, attend 12 Step meetings, practice a recovery-focused programme. Whatever you find helpful to your recovery, you will need to connect with that on a daily basis.
2. Learn the Facts of Addiction
It is vital that you understand that there is no quick fix or cure for addiction and that recovery is maintained on a daily basis. Learn how it is a chronic relapsing brain disorder, how it requires a change in thinking and perspective in order to overcome. Seek out professional help and self-help such as 12 Step fellowships or other support groups. Understand the pitfalls and remind yourself of how bad it really was.
Look at your past experiences of where you have failed to stay stopped and use these failures as experiences to learn from and grow. Change what needs to be changed in order to make your recovery as simple as possible. This means staying away from old using associates or drinking buddies whilst they are drinking and using. If they are true friends, they will give you the time and space you need to establish your recovery before exposing yourself to potential temptation.
3. Learn to be Grateful
Gratitude has the power to change a negative thought into a positive one. Even if you have had a bad day, try and look for the positives, it may be as simple as the fact that you have not relapsed, you are still clean and sober, you have not harmed anyone that day, you have food to eat, clean clothes, running water, heating, a bed to lie in, a roof over your head, you had a chat with a friend, you helped someone, you were polite and courteous all day, you have a chance at a new life and tomorrow is a fresh start with endless possibilities.
Gratitude is a powerful tool in keeping addiction at bay and it is often the smallest of things that bring us the most joy.
4. Don’t bottle things up
Addiction feeds on emotions and suppresses them. If you are feeling overwhelmed, frightened, angry or upset, talk to someone you trust; that may be a counsellor, a friend, someone in recovery, a spiritual guide or a sponsor. It is a mistake to let emotions fester in recovery, they can be very damaging if left unaddressed and unexpressed. Alcoholics and Addicts drink and drug to either suppress emotions or heighten them. It is vital that you learn to express your emotions safely and healthily, often talking to someone can help with this process
5. Be humble
Don’t ever think because you are sober and clean that you are safe and have cracked it. This is a common mistake and leads to complacency around recovery and an egotistical attitude towards others. False pride and ego often stand in the way of recovery. If you are struggling, ask for help. Don’t leave it until it’s too late, remember the saying “Pride before a fall” This is certainly true in recovery.
6. Learn to say “No”
Individuals that suffer from addiction often have people pleasing and approval seeking traits. If it doesn’t serve your recovery or well-being it is okay to say no. as long as you are being true to yourself, you don’t have to explain yourself. Saying no can be empowering as you will learn boundaries that will help to safeguard your recovery and prevent relapse. If it compromises you, causes you stress, is risky to your recovery, saying no can be a lifesaver, literally.
7. Don’t compare your recovery to others
Everyone has their own individual obstacles to overcome, some have suffered in addiction more than others, some have unresolved trauma or suffer from a dual diagnosis of mental health illness. It is always ill-advised to compare your recovery to others. Everyone recovers to their own time scale. Remind yourself how far you have come and look for achievements in your recovery, as long as you are moving forward, no matter how slowly, this is a good thing!