Making it through recovery treatment is one of the most rewarding feelings for a person. Gaining the confidence and courage to begin a path to recovery takes a lot for a person to do. Nothing beats the feeling of counting the days, months, and years clean, knowing that the hard work a person has put in for their recovery is paying off. It is something that is never easy for a person and can make the rest of their life more than they ever imagined providing they can avoid a relapse into addiction.
Preventing a relapse into addiction during recovery can be very trying for people. Some individuals have abused substances for so long that they don’t know anything else in life.The life they once had has gone so far behind them that they have lost hope ever to get it back. They begin to accept the life they have in their addiction. Addiction takes over someone’s life, every aspect of it. While in recovery, many things will always be a temptation for a person to go back to their addiction. It takes strength for a person to get past these temptations. There are many things people go through to get the strength to deal with these temptations and get past them.
Learning Self-Control to Avoid a Relapse Into Addiction
During recovery, addicts must learn self-control to avoid the temptations and triggers when they appear. There are going to be many things that will tempt someone in recovery. Self-control can be distractions, reminding yourself of what the consequences are and reminding yourself of how far you have come. It doesn’t matter if it has been ten days in recovery or ten years, a person will always come across temptations and triggers.
Losing Self-Control Experiencing a Relapse Into Addiction
There might be a time where something happens in a recovering addict’s life that they were not prepared to deal with, or times may become too hard for a person, and they give up. They relapse into addiction. Just because a person has a relapse does not mean that they weren’t trying or that they won’t bet able to recover again. People may relapse many times before they finally get it and can recover from it. Relapsing can be shameful, embarrassing, and disappointing. An individual who tried to stay clean and relapsed is not proud of themselves.
What matters is what they choose to do after a decline has occurred. It is ok to seek help again; it is ok to try again. No one is perfect, and no one can fight an addiction that quickly! Relapsing isn’t something that someone just chooses to do; it is a reality. The problem is, once it’s happened to you, it’s not so easy to face what’s happened. The tendency is to heap blame on yourself, to feel that somehow you should have been able to avoid a relapse into addiction. That’s counter-productive. There is a more constructive way to face yourself after your relapse.
Respond to a Relapse Immediately
First, you need to act quickly. After your relapse, you can’t delay for several days or weeks. That will just compound the problem and prolong your relapse – maybe even make it worse. It’s also a mistake to think to yourself, “Oh, this is it. I’m going downhill, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” That’s just not true. In fact, only you can take steps to resume your recovery. Recognize that you slipped, and double your efforts to overcome your cravings or urges. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. What’s most important is your desire to move past your slip-up and forward with your recovery.
Prepare to Make Major Changes
During treatment for addiction, you most likely worked out a game plan, a list of goals, and worked on practical coping skills. Once you entered the recovery stage, you may have become a bit overconfident in your ability to resist urges and cravings. You may have thought that you could have just one drink, or do a few drugs, or gamble a set amount, or indulge your addiction in some small way. Even if you didn’t delude yourself that you could handle your urges by going slower, reducing your consumption or addictive behavior, you might have let your guard down. Perhaps this was an instance of you falling back in with friends you used to drink or do drugs with, or go gambling with, or whatever. It may be that you didn’t purge your surroundings of any temptations, which now serve as triggers. Whatever you were doing, however, it’s obvious to you now that it didn’t work out quite as you planned. If it had, you wouldn’t have relapsed. You’ll need to make some significant changes in your life now.
Some of the changes you should plan to make include making a list of the people, places, and things that are dangerous to you. These are the situations that remind you or prompt the need to drink, do drugs, gamble, or engage in a compulsive sexual activity, overeating, overwork or other addictive behavior. Beside each trigger you have listed, start writing down ways that you can deal with these situations as they arise. This list is your plan of attack, how you will navigate your way through the minefield of obstacles that are a threat to your sobriety.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or experiencing a relapse into addiction, do not hesitate to call for help. There is help for everyone, and it is ok to need help at any point in recovery!