When people make the choice to become sober, there is often a fear that they will not be able to stay sober. Recovery is not easy, though, and it includes more than just abstaining from substances. Making the commitment to recover from chemical dependency includes planning for the future. Changing our way of life includes preventing relapse.
Sobriety vs. Recovery
Entering sobriety means choosing not to drink or use mood-altering substances. It is a physical manifestation of a single choice: to be sober. Sobriety is difficult to sustain as such, as it only addresses the single outward habit of substance use.
Recovery is a complete change of lifestyle from the inside out. It involves changing thinking, feelings, and behaviors. It impacts relationships and the people we spend time with. It impacts what we do with our time. It impacts how we live our lives going forward. And it includes a plan to prevent relapse.
Make a Plan
Along with the skills that are offered in recovery and the many changes which take place through the process to strengthen us mentally and emotionally, it is important to plan for the future. This includes recognizing places, people, activities, events, sights, smells, and more which might trigger thoughts of drinking or drug use. Recognizing things that may trigger a relapse allows us to make plans to avoid them or replace them with new things.
Part of a plan to prevent relapse is finding emotional support. When there is chaos or turmoil in our lives, our emotions are impacted. This is often the underlying reason for relapse. So if there is emotional support in our lives in the form of supportive and like-minded friends or family, support groups, or a therapist, then the early warning signs of a potential relapse can be addressed in advance.
Be Conscious of the Warning Signs
There are often many warning signs before physical relapse when the actual ingestion of a substance occurs. As mentioned, emotional stressors can easily trigger a relapse. But there are other warning signs, too. There are motivational warning signs, including changes to the routines set in place in early recovery. This might include missing meetings or therapy visits, missing prescription medication doses, or stopping self-care. All of these actions point to relapse into old behaviors, even if a person is still technically sober.
There are also mental signs of relapse, such as perseverating on people or choices associated with prior substance use, romanticizing substance use in thoughts, or taking risks by spending time with people or in places tha
t could tempt us to relapse. Giving time to the things of the past or the things that are known risks for us to return to past behaviors is a giant red flag to a potential relapse.
Choose Friends Wisely
A lesson parents try to teach their children from very young is to choose friends wisely. This is excellent advice throughout our lives, but never so much so as when a person is in recovery. An old ad campaign to prevent drunk driving included the slogan “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” which has become a common expression. In an ideal world, friends would always help make those important decisions at those crucial moments. That is a great quality to have in the people that we surround ourselves with.
However, friends are so much more than just an outward conscience. Friends are people that will take a call in the middle of the night to listen or support in a weak moment. Friends offer emotional support for recovery by accepting, learning about what recovery is, engaging us in new activities, and also being willing to reprimand, if necessary. The perfect friends for recovery are strong, vigilant, compassionate, forgiving, and supportive.
In order to prevent relapse, we cannot afford to have friends who are complacent, selfish, or coercive. Particularly if they were a part of our past substance use or continue to use substances. It is a very difficult part of recovery to potentially lose friends, yet it is vital to success that the people we surround ourselves with people who have our best interests at heart and share the goals we set for our lives when we are in recovery.
Choose New Activities
The life transformation that is recovery includes choosing new activities. The former activities that surrounded our substance abuse can easily cause a relapse because they are often intertwined with the drug or alcohol use. It doesn’t make sense to take the substances out of our bodies and then put our bodies back where the substances are.
New hobbies, sports, or other activities that are not related to past substance use or our history with it are part of the rebuild of our lives. They fortify decision making by offering positive alternatives to fill our time with and reduce temptations while broadening horizons.
Recovering from substance abuse is a complete process. Part of that process is preparing for the future, making a plan to prevent relapse. The AToN Center offers the opportunity for you to make lasting changes throughout your life in an environment that is luxurious and serene. They also prepare you for when you step back into your new life, providing you with the skills necessary to prevent relapses.
Life doesn’t have to be about mistakes. Your recovery does not need to have a do-over. Call AToN Center at (888) 813-5928 to help navigate your recovery right now.