If you’ve already started your recovery from substance use journey, you are aware of the struggle and work it has taken you to get where you are. You are also probably trying as much as possible to avoid experiencing a relapse though it seems as if it won’t happen to you.
Research indicates that about 80% of addicts seeking long-term sobriety suffer from relapse at least once. Others may experience it several times before finally recovering. You may have the best intentions of avoiding drugs but still find yourself in the ditch. Willpower can help you to remain sober. But you need other strategies to cope with other problems that may arise, especially after you’ve just left Oklahoma rehab.
This article discusses how you can stay sober as you recover from drug and substance use.
- Identify Your Triggers
Many things can elicit cravings and thoughts of substance use, including places, people, things, and situations. They could also be internal such as your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. If you want to avoid a relapse, it’s essential to identify these triggers. Knowing what puts you on can help you to create a plan of preventing or fighting against them.
Some common triggers that you need to watch out for are emotional distress, environmental cues, drug users, financial problems, and relationship troubles. Most people who are stressed and are fighting addiction often find it difficult to avoid using substances. Research indicates that when a person is stressed, their longing for drugs and alcohol increase, especially if they are his primary coping mechanism.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you must list them. For example, if your motivation is stress, write down the things, places, and people who stress you. Although you can’t eliminate or avoid them, knowing them may help you plan how to cope with them. By changing your priorities, relationships, and lifestyle, you’ll minimize stressful situations in your life and eliminate the trigger.
- Prepare For Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Depending on how severe your addiction was, you may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome for six months or even two years after refraining from substance use. PAWS may bring unpleasant symptoms like sleep troubles, recurring anxiety, and irritability. If you’re not careful, these symptoms may interfere with your recovery process.
Apart from identifying PAW symptoms, you need to know when to seek help. If your symptoms are acute and prolonged, you need to visit a medical professional to help you go through them and recover without a relapse. Your doctor will give you medication to assist in mitigating the symptoms.
Besides that, support and personalized care from friends, family members, and addiction specialists can significantly improve your recovery process. The therapy you receive from these groups can help you to manage the withdrawal symptoms as they come.
- Know Relapse Warning Signs
Relapses catch some people unawares because they don’t know how to discern warning signs. A relapse starts before you pick your drugs or drinks. It has three phases, known as emotional, mental, and physical relapse.
Some signs of relapse include having addictive thinking patterns, engaging in self-defeating behaviors, searching for your alcoholic or drug friends in bars, behaving irresponsibly, and thinking about drugs often when you’re in pain.
Knowing these warning signs can help you fight against them. Fortunately, most of them are common and predictable. Consult your addiction specialist if you’re suffering from these symptoms. However, if they aren’t so overwhelming, you combat them by making healthy choices and doing the right things.
- Change Your Routine And Old Habits
If you quit using drugs but continue with your same old routine and habits, you’ll find it very difficult to recover. To hasten your recovery process, you have to change your routine, hang out with different people, avoid going to bars, and change your circumstances. If you don’t do this, it will be easier to slip back to your old habits and behaviors.
Experts recommend you first start by dropping your alcoholic friends or refrain from hanging out with them. This is because they are potent triggers. Some may discourage or mock your recovery efforts and plunge you into stress. You can’t hang around your drinking friends and drug dealer and expect to be sober for long.
Apart from avoiding your old friends, you also need to change the route to your workplace or home to avoid places, people, or things that may trigger you into going back to drinking. When thoughts about your addiction come up, you need to know how to handle your feelings. For example, if your friends are going out to drink, you need to be ready to decline. You can also opt for other healthy activities such as watching a movie, running or reading a book.
- Develop New And Healthy Relationships
To maintain a drug-free life, you have to walk away from unhealthy and toxic relationships. It’s not only your drug dealers or drinking friends who can cause you trouble but also those who are very close to you. Maybe you have a co-dependent relationship with your friend, family members, or employer. Research shows that if you continue with such a relationship, you’ll easily relapse.
If you want to avoid the possibility of relapsing, you have to develop new, healthy relationships. Join support groups if you can make friends easily. Spending time with supportive family members and friends may also help you to plan for healthy activities. Through these activities, you’ll learn how to live a healthy lifestyle devoid of drugs.
Joining counseling groups and religious organizations can also help you to find sober friends. These groups engage their members in various social, physical, and mental activities that can help you find a new purpose in life. The slogans they create can also increase your resolve and encourage you to continue with your abstinence journey. A simple Google search can help you to identify such groups.
- Learn How To Manage Your Finances
Addicts recovering from drug and substance abuse may have problems maintaining employment, meeting responsibilities, and managing their finances. This is because addiction drains finances, leading to serious financial problems. If you have issues with your finances or finding and keeping a job, you may get stressed and suffer from a relapse.
However, you can learn how to manage your finances again. You only need to be patient and take baby steps because you’ll not be a manager overnight. If you don’t have a job, you can consult a career coach or rehabilitation counselor to help you practice job interview skills and find opportunities that match your experience and skills. If you’re privileged to find a job, take the necessary steps to protect yourself from stress to avoid any relapses. Budgeting can also help you to plan well.
Apart from that, it would be best if you also learned how to support your family as you recover. Returning to work from rehab could be a real psychosocial stressor. Coupled with this, the fear of failing because of inadequacy may make you lose your self-esteem. Also, sharing a work station with friends or co-workers you previously drank with can add to your stress. Ask your counselor to help you plan how to return to your employment and manage your finances.
Besides that, you can practice what you learned in the rehab in your new sober lifestyle. As you do this, remember to avoid any traps that may lead you into a relapse. Also, continue being in touch with your support groups by attending group meetings and following chats on relevant forums.
Recovery from alcohol addiction and staying sober can be a difficult task. It involves a lot of work and sacrifices that you must make if you want to be successful. You may want to drop some of your old friends, old habits and replace them with new friends and routines. However, if you follow these tips religiously, you’ll be successful.