Addiction doesn’t discriminate, and neither does relapse. It can happen to anyone, at any time, for any reason. However, there are ways to circumvent or avoid relapse. Being vigilant of feelings, surroundings, habits, routines, and relationships all impact the strength of an individual’s recovery.
Preparing and investing time into preventing relapse should not be a precursor to an inevitable relapse. Many people commit to their recovery and practice their strategies, avoiding triggers, keeping their regular meetings and working their program, and never relapse. It can and does happen. Relapse is not a requirement in recovery.
What Leads to Relapse?
For some people, it doesn’t take much to set the stage for possible relapse. Some people may get too relaxed, feel too confident in their recovery, or believe they no longer have an addiction. Others may think they are such a good place in their recovery that they no longer need to reach out or do the work required to maintain sobriety. There are various other things that can lead to relapse, including:
- Regularly skipping meetings
- Setting aside prayer and meditation
- Lack of gratitude
- Abandoning routine
This is comparable to a person with a medical diagnosis discontinuing medication because “they feel better.” However, the medication is what made them feel better. They still need to continue taking it to continue to get better.
Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT)
When an individual does not tend to their basic needs, they may start to feel “squirrely.” They may begin to feel restless, irritable, and discontent, which can direct them to seek a solution. Sometimes that solution is drugs or alcohol.
Not Changing People, Places, and Things
Not being aware of triggers can also lead to relapse. When someone spends the majority of their time with people they used to use drugs or alcohol with, they may be more tempted to use themselves. Those in recovery should also find new places to spend their time if they feel triggered by certain locations. Finding new hobbies also helps people avoid relapse, as this fills an individual’s time with activities that benefit them and their recovery.
How to Prevent Relapse
There are various ways individuals in recovery can work towards preventing relapse.
Stay Connected With Others
Reaching out to others in recovery, no matter what the reason, keeps people accountable and feeling connected to each other. Some do a daily call to someone, while others form a group text to all check in with each other. Regardless of the form of communication, routinely keeping in touch builds a foundation of reliability and continued supportive relationships.
For those who use peer-support groups to sustain recovery, attending meetings can be essential. Even when an individual is tired, busy, or has other things to do, prioritizing meetings can help sustain sobriety.
Make it a priority to attend meetings regularly. Some people prefer meetings online, while others prefer the intimacy of in-person meetings. When a person shows up at meetings, people get to know them and their story, and can become a part of their recovery.
When people start missing meetings, those who care about them start worrying. They will most likely reach out and see where that person is and how things are going. This is a great support tool, even when an individual doesn’t want it.
Many people choose to incorporate a daily gratitude list into their routines. Some start their day by making a list of a few things. Others like to end their day journaling and write about it then. Some people share their gratitude list in a group text. When people focus on what they have the positives in their lives, it helps them stay in a better state of mind. They are less likely to dwell on negatives, worries, or intrusive thoughts that can lead to relapse.
Working With a Sponsor
Working with a sponsor, mentor, or trusted friend in recovery not only allows someone to have a direct resource for questions and issues that may arise but also someone to help keep them accountable. Having someone watching out for a person in early sobriety and even later down the road gives that extra sense of security. The deeper connection between the sponsor and the sponsee ensures that the sponsee is taking the appropriate precautions and is more likely to succeed in their recovery.
Many people have heard the phrase “changing people, places, and things,” but they may not understand the depth or importance of this. Not going to the places where the person drank or used, not regularly associating with these same people, and not doing the same things they did when they used, are crucial to prevent relapse.
However, it is equally as important to identify personal triggers, which may be a trigger for only that person. Having a memory or a thought process that leads to a sudden urge could be brought on by seeing a black liquor store bag, the way someone greets them, the weather, a particular song, and so on. Being aware of what triggers the person and developing coping skills to manage those triggers can prevent relapse.
Relapse Is Not Required
Relapse is not required in recovery, but it does happen. Luckily, there is help out there. If thoughts arise, reaching out to a sponsor, attending a meeting, reflecting on what led to the thoughts, and sharing with another, are all tools that can help to prevent a relapse. However, if relapse does occur, treatment facilities like Destiny Recovery Center are here to help people find recovery once again. We don’t recover alone.
Relapse is not a requirement of recovery; it does not have to be a part of your story. You can feel dedicated to your recovery and then suddenly be triggered. If you are not prepared, then you are at risk. Luckily, there are many proven prevention strategies and things to do daily to work towards preventing relapse. Being aware of triggers and identifying behaviors that may present themselves before a possible relapse can help protect your sobriety. Destiny Recovery Center helps those recovering from addiction develop the tools they need to prevent relapse. We also help those who have relapsed and are looking to heal once again. For more information on our program, call us today at (909) 413-4304.