Can I Prevent a Relapse?
There is a solution, a way to prevent relapse, and it’s a fairly straightforward one. You need to cram your schedule with activities and interactions that are more helpful to your recovery. One of the best ways to do this is to attend more 12-step meetings. Immerse yourself in them. Attend them more frequently than once or twice a week. Go twice a day, if you find that helpful. Do whatever it takes to find the support you need. Talk with your sponsor. Do things with your group members. Participate in workshops and seminars. Listen to others at the meetings and lend your support as well. Reaching out can benefit you by taking you outside your own concerns as well as helping the other person in need.
Here are some more practical suggestions on how to prevent relapse – and help you get it together again.
- Stay focused on your recovery. You need time to get yourself together, time to get stronger.
- Avoid situations where you feel bored. And, definitely avoid isolating yourself at home alone.
- Make sure you recognize your incremental achievements. Reward for achieving a goal of one week of sobriety, or one month without gambling, for example, is a great way of recognizing your achievements and spurring you on to your next goal.
- Get support and help often. Keep in close contact with those who are most helpful to you. This may be your family members, close friends or co-workers. It should definitely include your 12-step group sponsor and other group members with whom you share similarities or friendship.
- Change your routine. Switch the way you drive to work, the order in which you do your exercises, the variety of cuisines you eat or prepare. This keeps things from getting stale and creates an aura of excitement, of something different, something new each day to look forward to.
- Don’t see relapse as failure. Never give up on your goal of recovery. Instead, look at relapse as a brief return to addictive behavior. It doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail if you’ve had a relapse. You may need to go back into treatment and/or intensive counseling so you can get back on the road to recovery.
- Get support immediately from a person or group that you trust if you feel in imminent danger of relapse.
- Make yourself wait at least two hours before acting on a craving or urge. This is often long enough for the urge/craving to dissipate.
- When you identify or find behaviors that are helpful in curing cravings/urges, modify these to incorporate into new behaviors that can help in other stressful situations. Nothing succeeds like success. If it worked before, make use of it again.
- Always have new goals to strive for. Look toward the future, the way you want your life to be a year, 5 years, even 10 years down the road. Make plans that you can put into motion to achieve those goals. Remember, the rest of your life begins with the steps you take today. Your recovery begins now.
Remember that preventing relapse requires knowledge and awareness of triggers and cues. Once you’ve identified the risky situations, toxic emotions, worked out all the potential stressors that could catapult you into relapse, the rest is up to you. Ask yourself the following two questions:
Am I willing to do something about it?
What am I willing to do?
Then, do it – making sure that you avail yourself of all the resources and help that are available to you. Will it be easy? No, it probably won’t be. Some days will be more difficult than others. But, over time, you will become stronger, more self-confident, and more capable of addressing the stressors, triggers, issues and problems that come your way. And you’ll be able to do so without triggering a relapse.