Avoiding a relapse is likely one of your primary goals after overcoming addiction. After much effort, you are now living a drug-free life and seeing the rewards of staying sober gives you the determination to keep moving forward. It is also encouraging to see how those around you and who care about your well-being are also benefitting from your new, healthy lifestyle and are happier. Now, you need to think about ways in which you can avoid any setbacks and ways in which you can be well prepared in case of cravings and triggers.
It is important to remember that most decisions that lead to relapse happen when you are stressed, tired, saddened or in any number of other negative mental states. When going through one of these conditions, you might lack the strength or confidence to resist the temptation of drug use in order to cope with negative feelings. It is harmful to think that you will always be able to keep a positive attitude and that you are completely cured from addiction. The reality is that addiction is a chronic disease, and that ongoing care is needed.
In a publication found in the US National Library of Medicine, it is stated that stress is a common factor in developing vulnerability to relapses. It was found in a research program that impulse control can be severely impaired when dealing with high levels of stress or other negative emotions.
How can you avoid stressed and tired decisions when trying to recover from alcohol addiction?
Avoid Relapse by Taking Note of Your Mental State
Information from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence explains common signs and symptoms of alcoholism. One of the signs is using alcohol to cope with negative feelings and emotions. As a recovering alcoholic, you might think even subconsciously of using alcohol every time you are sad or tired or depressed.
An excellent option is to keep a journal of how you feel whenever urges or cravings appear. This will help you keep a record of your mental state when you are more vulnerable and then you’ll be more ready to give attention to the situation.
For example, you might detect that you lack the desire to have conversations with other members of your family or sober friend group before you feel so down-and-out that you think you need a drink. You may simply be tired, or perhaps you just need some reassurance (we all need reassurance sometimes). It is during these first stages of the craving that you can act and counteract the negative emotion with positive thoughts, reassurance, determination or specific activities.
Protecting Yourself from Bad Decisions While Overcoming Addiction
Frequent participation in mutual-aid support groups is an excellent way to stay ready for possible setbacks. These groups are mostly shared by people in similar circumstances and therefore are ideal to give you support and new strategies to avoid relapses.
A publication sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that patients were less likely to relapse if they had frequent participation in recovery groups such as the ones using the 12-Step approach. The findings were important because it gave health care professionals new understandings on how to plan effective treatment and aftercare programs for different patients, including those recovering from alcohol addiction.
An excellent feature of 12-Step groups and similar mutual-aid groups is receiving the constant help of a sponsor. A sponsor is a fellow addict in recovery (usually someone who has been sober for quite some time) and who makes himself available for you to contact anytime you feel vulnerable to a relapse. This is effective because you can receive moral support and help at any time by contacting your sponsor. For example, if you are tempted to drink because you are feeling angry, your sponsor can remind you of better ways to handle the situation without actually using any harmful substance.
With advancement in technology, now it is possible to receive virtual addiction help. In their comments about support for patients fighting alcohol addiction, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that the use of the internet and email now makes it easier for everyone who needs help to obtain it.
Another good option is to keep your addiction counselor close. Most rehab centers offer aftercare programs where patients can continue with their therapy or counseling sessions in an outpatient model. This allows patients to continue developing new and more effective ways to deal with relapses and maintain the determination to overcome addiction.
Addiction Help Without Leaving Home
You can contact one of our addiction counselors without leaving the comfort of home. Just call our toll free helpline with lines open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and one of our recovery specialists will help you by answering your questions and telling you of your options for treatment. We can even help you plan a strategy to help your loved one who is reluctant to accept addiction help. Don’t hesitate to call at your most convenient time.