10 Tips For Reducing The Risk Of Relapse

Does relapse have to be a part of recovery? The answer is No! That said, it isn’t always the worst thing if it does happen. It’s easy to be hard on yourself if you relapse, but if viewed as an opportunity to learn to it could actually be helpful. It may also reinforce that your addiction is a significant problem and that you need to be even more diligent. Since relapse can be a part of recovery I have 10 tips for reducing the risk of relapse to help you be successful in your desire for a better life.

1. Commitment

First and foremost you need to be 100% committed. Check in frequently and remember why this is important to you. It might be helpful to review the reasons you want to change, if not daily, a couple of times a week. Remember the negative aspects of your drug or behavior, it’s easy to forget how much pain our addiction has caused once we have a little distance from it.

2. Create Your Support System

It is really difficult to make this change without a support system. This could be a 12 step group, but it can also be your family, a good friend, a therapist or coach, an online group. It can be helpful to have someone to check in with, especially someone that understands what you are going through.

I’m of the belief that there is not a one size fits all when it comes to recovery. I went to GA for years and I did outpatient programs, and several online web-based programs. I’ve also done a fair amount of alternative therapies, many of which I still use today. I think I did everything but inpatient. At one point I was just done. I remember walking out of the casino feeling disgusted, and said “I have to stop doing this to myself.” It wasn’t the first time I said that but this time it stuck and I finally just stopped. Even though it felt as though I did it on my own at that point, the truth is that it came after years of learning and with the help of others. I believe having a support system is helpful but your support system can be unique to you.

3. Know Your Triggers

Take time to think about what triggered cravings and thoughts of using. It is likely that once you stopped you became aware of some you didn’t even realize were there. There are a many things that trigger cravings, people, places, time of day, day of the week, sounds, smells, emotions, and more. Take some time to think about and write out what comes to mind. Avoid when possible and have a plan in place when you can’t avoid it.

You may need to take a different route home, avoid certain people, or change up your routine to interrupt old patterns of behavior.

4. Keep Yourself Out of Risky Situations

It isn’t always possible but avoid high risk situations when you can. I often hear clients say they want to test themselves and I see that as setting yourself up for a fall. Sometimes it isn’t avoidable. I enjoy bowling and there are very few options for bowling in Las Vegas that don’t require you walking through a casino. Walking through a casino even today after years of abstinence creates a really uncomfortable feeling for me.

At least in your first 6 months stay away from high risk situations. If you can’t avoid, plan ahead.

5. Plan Ahead

If you can’t avoid a situation take someone with you. It also depends on your substance or behavior, if it’s drinking for example, rehearse how to refuse a drink. If it’s gambling and you need to go into a casino, don’t take cards or extra cash. If it’s a food related issue, take along some of your own food choices so you will have something you can eat. Block sites on the internet, get creative with what you need to do to lower your risk of giving into a behavior or substance.

This is why it is so important to take the time to know your triggers, it gives you the power to e prepared in situations that can’t be avoided.

6. Have Strategies For Lowering Stress

What are your stress reduction techniques. Are you taking time to do some deep breathing, do you have a daily meditation practice? What about physical exercise? Good self care along with some daily relaxation practices is your best plan for lowering stress overall.

Get enough sleep, eat healthy nutritious foods, exercise, have some good leisure activities, get some social interaction, have some mindfulness and breathing exercises that are your go to for releasing stress, pay attention to self talk.

Practice SOBER, stop, observe, breathe, expand, respond.

Use aromatherapy. There are many things you can do to create a sense of ease. Take time to laugh and stop and enjoy the moment.

7. Have A List Of Alternate Activities

Fill the void. What are you doing now instead of engaging in the addictive behavior. Part of a good recovery plan is engaging in activities that you enjoy. This might just be going back to doing the things you used to enjoy but it may mean trying some new things. It is also a good time to reconnect with people that you ignored while active in your addiction. It could be taking a class, learning something new.

I know that keeping busy helps but try to avoid just working more, it’s not about just keeping busy it is about creating a life your really love. Working on change, reconnecting, rebuilding your life is not something that happens overnight, so have some patience. Use the time to focus on positive aspects of your life and enhance it by having activities you enjoy.

8. Work Your Recovery Program Daily

In my opinion a daily recovery program is really just a good self-care program. Although it might include going to a meeting or doing something in a recovery workbook, it could also just be going to a yoga class or pulling out the journal. It may be that daily list of why you want to change, the reasons you stopped. It might be reviewing and revising goals that you have set for yourself.

Whatever it looks like have some things in place that support your recovery that are part of a healthy lifestyle.

9. Keep Support Resources Handy

Your support resources depend on what your recovery program looks like. It might be your journal, your “One Day At A Time” book, it could be a copy of the serenity prayer. It could also be a list of phone numbers or a recovery workbook. Keep your support resources available and easy to grab. Your phone list should be on you all the time. You might want to keep your journal and workbook in a drawer for privacy but use them consistently so it doesn’t become an out of sight out of mind sort of thing.

10. Play The Tape Through

If you are still thinking of using at this point, at least stop and play the tape through. If you are being honest with yourself, you know that whatever is going on in your life that has you thinking of using, won’t get better if you use.

This takes self awareness and taking time to stop and think. Just taking the time to stop and think might be enough to get the rational brain back on board so you can make a conscious decision about what is really best for you.

It Comes Down To Your Plan

Once you have decided to stop, take some time to plan. The preparation stage of change is really important and if you actually take the time to prepare for success you will have addressed all the above 10 tips. You will have in place activities for relaxation, you will know your triggers, you will remember why this is so important. You will understand where your triggers are and have behaviors to move through them.

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