In any journey to recovery, it’s common to struggle with relapse.
In simple terms, it happens if a person under treatment for substance abuse starts to have issues with cutting down or avoiding alcohol or drugs, reverting to the previous amount of consumption before treatment.
It’s a common phenomenon. But experiencing it does hinder a person’s recovery journey. Because of that, it’s crucial to fully understand the factors that may predispose you to relapse and the ways to reduce your risk.
How does addiction work?
Addiction is a chronic disorder in which a person finds it hard to stop using a substance or participate in behaviors that result in undesirable physical and psychological effects.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, it’s a chronic yet manageable disorder involving complex interactions among various factors such as genetics, internal brain circuitry, the individual’s experiences, and the environment.
A person experiencing addiction goes through behavioral changes that loved ones, friends, and colleagues will notice. Some include the inability to stay away from a substance, increasing desire for it, lacking self-control, dismissing issues or problems, and lacking emotional response.
As individuals go through addiction, they undergo cycles of intense and mild substance use. These only lead patients to worse situations physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and even financially.
Tips on how to go through addiction without relapses
When a loved one or friend who quit previously starts to consume alcohol or use substances again, it clearly indicates a relapse.
To reduce your risk of relapsing, you can take these steps to get back on the right track with your recovery.
Establish a solid foundation with the right treatment program
When dealing with addiction, it’s crucial to put in as much work as possible to recover. However, doing it alone can be a challenging ordeal. The success of recovery depends highly on how much help you can get from others.
An addiction treatment program is an excellent first step in dealing with addiction and achieving sobriety. It offers a supportive environment to focus on treatment, self-reflection, and improvement for steadier progress. To ensure a good head start, consider checking out Insight Northwest Counseling Portland Oregon, and other similar treatment providers.
These cater to various needs, including detoxification centers, inpatient facilities, and outpatient services. Depending on your specific needs, combining individual and group therapy and other modalities will allow you to find a regimen that works for you.
Staying active in support groups
One of the key considerations to lower the chances of relapse is getting support.
Being part of a support group helps you get encouragement and maintain accountability. It will also come in handy in case you want someone to get in touch with during emergencies or receive encouragement from when you feel on the verge of a relapse.
Depending on the treatment center, you should also make the most out of long-term services. It ensures you can maintain connections with a support group familiar with your recovery status.
When you want the best outcome for your treatment, professional support can help deal with underlying issues contributing to your risk of relapse. It can help you develop a tailored plan for coping strategies while maintaining accountability for your progress.
Regular interaction with same-minded individuals within your support group will go a long way in preventing feelings of isolation. Aside from that, spending time with loved ones and friends will also help you stay focused on your recovery goals.
Establish SMART goals
Speaking of goals, a clear way of lowering your risk of relapse is to follow the SMART scheme. Broad goals are often difficult to achieve and may even disrupt your road to recovery.
In contrast, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
This means that your goals should be targeted, sustainable, and measurable. They should be realistic, something with which you can take concrete action. It also helps if you can fix a timeline for them. It provides a guide for which steps you must take to achieve them.
Following the SMART scheme can make outlining and hitting goals much more manageable.
Know your triggers
Every person has a set of triggers that urges them to relapse.
Relapse triggers can be any social, emotional, or psychological events or scenarios that predispose an individual to seek their substance of choice.
While most of the triggers are negative, there are also positive ones that may put a person at high risk for relapse.
If you want to lower the chances of relapse, knowing your triggers is important to avoid them in the first place.
Some of the most common triggers include:
- Feelings of guilt or being unappreciated
- Peer pressure
- A sound, sight, or smell that brings back memories of the substance
- Being close to a venue where the substance is readily available
- Being in a situation that strikingly resembles one where you use the substance
- Going through a major change in life
Any combination of these may set off a relapse. It’s important to set boundaries for yourself and go at a steady pace. Never force yourself to do something or go somewhere that reminds you too much of your condition. To make recovery easier, steer clear of high-risk situations.
Prioritize your physical wellbeing
One of the priorities in the recovery process is your physical well-being. Many triggers are often worsened by poor nutrition, fatigue, and discomfort. Improving your overall health during recovery will play a key role in reducing your risk of relapse.
One thing you can do to stay on path is to get enough sleep at night; 7 – 9 hours would be ideal. Here are a few more tips for you to consider:
- Integrate stretching and relaxation breaks into your daily routine.
- Take part in physical activities to improve strength, mood, and determination. Exercise is a healthy outlet for negative feelings while also serving as a distraction in case cravings arise. Activities like running, walking, yoga, swimming, or team sports are great choices.
- Adjust your diet to include good protein sources, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. While eating, avoid rushing through a meal to prevent overeating and digestive problems.
- Maintaining hobbies or interests gives you a sense of purpose, enjoyment, and fulfillment during your recovery. Like exercise, they can distract you from triggers and cravings. Engage in hobbies you previously enjoyed or find new ones.
Maintaining physical health by getting good sleep, physical activity, and a proper diet dramatically improves your resistance to relapsing, allowing you to secure your progress.
Practice self-awareness and self-reflection
Improving your capacity for self-awareness and self-reflection will come in handy in preventing relapse during the recovery process. They allow you to recognize and process your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors associated with addiction.
Practicing them regularly makes pinpointing triggers or patterns that may lead to relapse easier. You also get a good understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses. Above all, you strengthen your focus on personal growth and recovery objectives.
Embrace setbacks as opportunities for growth
The road to recovery can be long, and various factors can prolong or shorten the journey. Therefore, it’s natural to expect setbacks along the way.
But if you see these setbacks as permanent roadblocks, you may have to change your mindset. Whenever you encounter one, consider it an opportunity to learn and grow.
If you find yourself feeling helpless or discouraged, consider the following:
- Reflect on the circumstances and pinpoint contributing factors.
- Make the most out of the experience to adjust your relapse prevention plan.
- If you need guidance and encouragement, don’t hesitate to contact your support network.
- Remind yourself of all your accomplishments and progress to stay committed.
When setbacks happen during your recovery, take them as a prompt to switch things up. Sometimes, they’re the only indicators of how far you’ve come.
Maintain a daily routine
If you want to put your life back on the right track, following a daily routine will help. A consistent one promotes stability and lowers stress, minimizing the risk of relapse.
Everyone’s needs vary, necessitating unique routines. However, ideal ones would include a designated time for self-care, school or work, physical activities, relaxation, and social interactions. Integrating healthy habits into your daily routine helps provide a feeling of being in control.
Additionally, following a routine will ensure you’re better equipped to handle challenges or setbacks.
Commit to your post-treatment plan
Once your addiction treatment ends, you must collaborate with a counselor or healthcare professional to develop a post-treatment plan. Generally, it outlines the support system you need to follow once you complete treatment. It may also include an outpatient program or counseling. Sometimes, 12-step meetings may be considered to ensure the best possible results.
A Sober life is always within reach
As you navigate through addiction treatment and recovery, the risk of relapse will always be challenging to manage. But by undertaking a comprehensive treatment program, committing to a tailored post-treatment plan, and utilizing various measures to promote proper health, you can stick to the rocky yet rewarding road to progress.
And even if you do relapse, don’t feel ashamed. The point is that you tried and can keep trying. Be kind to yourself and hold on to your goal of a better, sober life.
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