The goal of going to treatment is to become sober and stay sober. Yet about half of those who seek addiction treatment will relapse within their first year after treatment. No one plans to relapse, but you significantly decrease your chances of having one if you plan to prevent a relapse. How can you prevent a relapse?
Prevention Is All in the Planning
The dream would be if you could go to treatment for drug or alcohol use, walk out, and never have to think about any of it again. However, like most other medical conditions, that is simply not the case and never will be. Addiction is more like diabetes, where you seek medical treatment to get your blood sugar levels under control. You make daily diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to maintain your physical health. You can also plan to prevent having any more complications from diabetes.
Similarly, after treatment for substance use disorders, you make daily diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes to maintain your physical, mental, and spiritual health. You make plans to prevent having a relapse or other complications from substance use. You take specific care to make a relapse prevention plan and do things every day to strengthen your mind and body to help prevent a relapse.
Never Take Your Sobriety for Granted
Each day that you wake up and have the opportunity to be sober, you should express your gratitude. Never take your sobriety for granted. Relapsing can be so easy to do, but maintaining sobriety takes hard work and dedication every single day of the year. Every day that you remember that and are grateful for your sobriety, you give yourself a positive perspective to help keep your relapse plan in place.
You are actively seeking to maintain your sobriety. Acknowledging the challenges you face and the work you put into your recovery each day means that you are aware of your recovery. When you forget about your sobriety or take it for granted, that is when you forget about the daily efforts you should be making to prevent a relapse.
Preventing a Relapse Happens Every Day
Relapse prevention is not something that you learn about once or twice and then simply try to keep in mind. Relapse prevention is a state of mind, a call to action, and a daily effort that you make to maintain your sobriety. Preventing a relapse involves anticipating triggers, preparing for cravings, and doing activities daily to strengthen your mind and body.
Making conscious choices every day and planning to avoid the pitfalls and traps of relapse requires constant focus. You are not planning to fail, and you are making plans to succeed. You are anticipating challenges and overcoming them by being proactive in your plans and in your actions.
Simple Ways You Can Prevent a Relapse
The best ways to prevent relapse are the simple ones, the things you learn in treatment, and support meetings to do each and every day. Some of these include:
- Practice mindfulness – mindfulness strengthens your mind like a muscle, which helps prevent relapse.
- Get outside and move – doing simple things like going for a walk every day or doing yoga will help distract from cravings and provide endorphins to keep your mood positive.
- Practice coping skills – practicing coping skills every day will help you be prepared for when actual cravings hit.
- Use the HALT method – avoid being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, four direct threats to relapse.
- Practice self-care – by taking time out of your day to do something just for you that fuels you and makes you feel alive, you decrease your chances of relapse.
- Ask for help – never be too proud or embarrassed to ask for help. Know who you can call and when, and lean on them when you need them.
Never Give Up: How to Learn From a Relapse
While the ideal is not to relapse, and your best-laid plans are in place to prevent it, sometimes, relapse still occurs. Is this a failure? Absolutely not. For some people, relapse is part of the recovery process. Whether you just slip up or actually relapse mentally or physically, there is always something to be learned from a relapse.
The most important lesson is never to give up. You became sober once, and you can do it again. Secondly, as with anything in life, when you fall down the ladder a little or even all the way, you stand back up, dust yourself off, and climb back up again. The best takeaway from a relapse should be to learn what you can do better when you are sober again.
No one ever plans to relapse, but by making a relapse prevention plan, you are planning for your success in recovery. Creating a relapse prevention plan means never taking your sobriety for granted and doing proactive things every day to stay sober. Should you relapse, the best strategy would be to get back up, become sober again, and learn from your experience. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is a detox and residential treatment center for the medical treatment of alcohol and other substance disorders. Our Costa Mesa, California facility offers group and individual therapy in a calm, peaceful, soothing environment that promotes healing. We use evidence-based practices and trauma-informed care to support your healing. You already have the tools inside you to achieve sobriety, and we help you use them. Contact The Ho Tai Way today at (714) 581-3974.