No matter where you are in your recovery, there is no doubt that you have put in your share of sweat equity to keep it center stage in your life. You went through drug treatment and continue to go to 12-Step meetings and other sober support groups, you work with your sponsor and are on point in working your program of recovery.
You had worked hard to built a healthier, better and more sober you. But while you are making the most of this new lease on life, there is that nagging thought that lurks around the back door of your mind and pops up in the rear view–and it is the thought of relapse.
Relapse is perhaps the ugliest word in the recovering addict’s vocabulary. We don’t want to dwell on the possibility of backsliding back into active use again, but unfortunately addiction is a cunning, baffling and powerful disease. The psychological and emotional attachments to substances linger long after the physical effects subside–and as long as there is a spark, the potential for relapse is never far away.
Relapse is Common in Recovery
While we put our time in to make sure we are preventing relapse in our recovery, the stone cold fact is that relapse is common and can happen no matter how strong our recovery game may be. For example, it is estimated that approximately 90% of alcoholics experience at least one relapse in the four years following treatment. In regards to other substances, data provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration breaks down the relapse rates for the following drugs:
- Heroin 78.2%
- Cocaine 61.9%
- Meth 52.2%
- Marijuana 43.1%
Even with successful completion of drug treatment, relapse rates still range between 40 to 60 percent. It may seem like the deck might be stacked against you, but you hold the keys in preventing relapse in your recovery. The following are five basic, yet essential ways in which you can minimize and eliminate chances of relapse.
What You Can Do In Preventing Relapse
Lead Yourself Not Into Temptation
One of the most common reasons why people relapse is they think they can handle being in environments where drug use occurs and around people who use substances. While you may feel on top of the world in recovery–and especially early recovery–trying to test yourself in these situations is often a recipe for disaster.
If possible, you want to avoid any situations that may place you in the way of temptation. These situations can be either physical or emotional in nature. If you are in early recovery, you want to try to avoid going to those places where there will be substance use or where there will be reminders of times you used drugs and alcohol.
Support is Key
An important way in preventing relapse in your recovery is to hang with people that are 100 percent supportive of your sobriety. These people can include family, friends, peers in your support groups, counselors and sponsors. These positive people will provide the encouragement and support you need in good times as well as bad times.
You also need to cut ties to those people who you used to use substances with and those people who are not supportive of your substance-free lifestyle. If necessary, change your phone number and delete them from your email list or social networking sites such as Facebook.
Create a Healthy Schedule
The ability to create a healthy and balanced daily schedule in another key element in preventing relapse. Ideally, your daily schedule should consist of treatment, attending 12-step or other sober support group meetings, your important daily obligations as well as leisure and free time.
By creating a schedule in this manner, you are developing a new and healthier routine that is conducive to recovery. You are also minimizing any idle time and down time could lead to thoughts of using which ultimately could lead to relapse.
It happens to everyone is recovery. In the early going you have a ton of motivation and energy in doing what you need to in order to fully work your program of recovery. After awhile, that energy starts to wane and you may start buying into all the success that you are having in your sobriety. These feelings of complacency can be very damaging to your recovery because you develop a false sense of security and you start letting your guard down.
If you find things that work for you, by all means keep on doing what you are doing. However, if you start feeling stuck in recovery it is important to identify what is keeping you stuck and incorporate new things into your overall plan of recovery.
Think of Relapse as a Learning Experience
If in the unfortunate event that you relapse, it is important not to dwell on it for too long. Yes, you will experience guilt, shame and anger over your relapse, but staying stuck in those feelings will prevent you from getting back on track.
Take a step back and understand the reasons why you relapsed and learn from it. Lean on the support of those in recovery have experienced relapse and learn how they overcome that obstacle. Relapse can be viewed as a learning experience and you can not only grow, it will give you the motivation to dig deeper.
Addiction is a Complex Concept: Turn to Sober Nation to Learn About Addiction
Like addiction itself, relapse is a complex concept and is the result of many things. No matter where you are in your recovery, it is always important to continue learning about addiction and the ways you can effectively beat it back. Sober Nation is the world’s leading addiction and recovery resource found on the internet.
We strive to provide you with the news you can use, along with informative articles, blogs and a comprehensive treatment directory to help you stay strong in your fight against addiction. Check out our website as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. Stay informed, stay strong and stay sober with the help of Sober Nation.