You’ve gone through rehab and all the hard work has led you to a beautiful new life you never imagined possible. So it’s time to relax and enjoy it, right? Unfortunately, while detoxing from drugs and alcohol and completing inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment are vital first steps on the road to recovery, it’s necessary to always remain vigilant about the possibility you can slip up and head back down a dead-end street. You need a relapse prevention strategy.
Preventing a relapse is a lifelong process that begins with learning to recognize some common warning signs, or triggers.
Relapses don’t suddenly start the minute you pick up a drink or do drugs again. Instead, they can begin the moment negative thoughts start to creep in, disrupting efforts to remain sober. Perhaps the coronavirus crisis has triggered feelings of loneliness or hopelessness you can’t seem to overcome without self-medicating. Maybe it feels sometimes like just one drink or a hit of your drug of choice might help you better cope with a new life situation, such as a job loss.
Cravings then begin to creep in. You may begin to be thinking about the “fun” times you had using drugs, or how nice it would be to have a glass of wine with dinner. The stark reality is that these cravings can often become stronger over time and lead to risky behavior.
Risky behavior could be reconnecting with old party pals under the guise of just catching up, hanging out in old haunts, such as a certain bar or restaurant, and whatever other actions may lead you to drink or do drugs again.
At this point, you can choose to stop and take corrective action. But even if you do experience a relapse, it is possible to regain control and set yourself back on the right path, with detox after relapse.
At The Mend, we teach you how to develop and follow a relapse prevention strategy.
The most important step is to always seek support as quickly as soon in the cycle as possible, whether from your sponsor, meetings, loved ones or anyone else who can help you work to break the cycle of negative thoughts leading to risky behavior. Just being aware of thought patterns can help you stop and replace them with positive thinking and healthy distractions.
The Mend equips residents with relapse prevention tools such as these and more you need to thrive after leaving our care, and we treat everyone as a lifelong member of our family. Our community of staff and alumni will do everything we can to help you stay sober once you walk back out our center’s doors.
If you’re still not sure whether the time is right to quit drugs or alcohol, take our 10-question quiz HERE.