What can trigger a relapse?
- The loss of a loved one
- Lay offs and unemployment
- Chronic illness or serious accident
All these are significant life events that can strike anyone, but when they happen to someone in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, they can trigger a relapse that can be just as devastating as the traumatic event itself. Learning how to cope when unavoidable incidents arise can be the only thing standing between you and a return to active addiction. Getting over a relapse can take time, so think it through and plan what to do in a crisis. Need some ideas?
5 ways to avoid relapse in a crisis
Here are five things you can do avoid relapsing in the event of a crisis in your life:
1. Amp up your recovery efforts
Vent all of your anger and frustration or grief in therapy. Support groups and your personal psychotherapy sessions are the perfect places to talk about these stressors. No matter what form in which it arrives, a stressor is a threat to your ability to maintain sobriety if you don’t process it in a healthy manner. If you don’t have enough therapy sessions in a week to really work through it, add more.
2. Call on your friends and family around the clock
Ask people who you can trust and who you know support your recovery, and understand how difficult it can be, if you can call them any time, absolutely any time, when you are struggling and feeling like you might relapse. Then do it. Reach out and touch as often as you need, especially when the urge to drink or use arises.
3. Take a 10-minute break
If you are about to call your connection or buy a drink, stop. Freeze in your tracks. Take a deep breath and look at the clock. Promise yourself 10 minutes of sobriety, then take those 10 minutes to breathe deeply, meditate, do yoga, turn on a TV show that makes you laugh, or call a friend, anything that will help you push the “reset” button and get back on track.
4. Focus on what you can change
In a true crisis, there are certain elements of the situation that are beyond your control, and while that can be a very difficult thing to handle emotionally, it can sometimes help to focus first on the things you can control. For example, you may not be able to save your marriage from divorce, but rather than feeling immobilized by your pain, you can focus on the tangible things you need to do next in order to get a step closer to putting the experience in the past.
It can be something simple, shopping for groceries, making a to do list for the following day, or walking the dog, but it should be something that helps you to move forward. When you’re done, move on to the next thing and then the next. And recite the Serenity prayer constantly if need be: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”.
5. Consider what you are grateful for
It can help to write it out in black and white, a full list of all the things that you are grateful for, the blessings that you may take for granted everyday. Don’t overlook things like your health or the health of your loved ones, a great pet, a good job, or a roof over your head. Even focusing on little things like a thriving garden, a car that’s working well, or a great cup of coffee can help to take your mind of the tough stuff that is causing you to feel unstable in recovery.
Other ideas for avoiding relapse
What are your “go to” moves when you feel like you want to drink or get high? Leave a comment about what has or hasn’t worked for you. Because having to start over after a relapse does not get any easier.