Tips for Avoiding Relapse
The most important moment before relapse isn’t the final decision to use a drug. It’s when you decide to expose yourself to triggers. For example, a trigger could be going to a party or walking through the liquor section at the store. Before encountering your triggers, you still have most of the control. Not your craving.
If you’re feeling the urge to use, try to wait it out
If you distract yourself for even 30 minutes, it’s likely your craving will lessen in intensity. It might not totally disappear, but it will become easier to resist.
Focus on replacing your past drug use with new positive activities
If you used to go home after work and drink, you’ll need to make a new plan to occupy yourself. Going home and staring at a wall will eventually lead to staring at a wall with a drink in your hand.
Don’t try to do this alone
Sharing your goals for sobriety with a friend makes all the difference. They can hold you accountable when you’re making questionable decisions (“I’m just going to the bar to hang out, I won’t drink!”) and they can offer a kind ear when you’re struggling.
Remind yourself that cravings will pass
Have you ever had that experience when you’re sick where you can’t remember what it feels like to not be sick? The same thing happens with cravings. Give it time, and believe it or not, the feeling will go away.
You’ll have to make sacrifices beyond giving up the drug
If you previously used during specific activities (for example: watching a game on TV, going to concerts, or spending time with friends), you may need to make changes. This might mean not watching the game, or making new friends who are sober. This can be really hard, but that’s what makes it a sacrifice.
Have a plan for when things get bad, because at some point, they will
People get fired, hearts get broken, and sometimes people leave us forever. Develop a plan to get through these major life challenges–without the use of drugs–before they happen.
Don’t become complacent with your sobriety
If you someday consider having “just a glass of wine with dinner”, don’t make the decision lightly. If you’ve struggled with addiction in the past, you are much more likely to develop an addiction again.
If you do relapse, don’t give up.
A lot of people find it helpful to keep track of how long they’ve been sober, but don’t confuse this count with the true goal of leading a good life. If you’re at day 100 of sobriety, that’s great. However, if you make a mistake and end up back at day 0, know that you are not starting over (you gained knowledge, experience, and confidence). In other words: Slipping up is not a license to go on a binge.
Come up with new rituals
How do you celebrate holidays, promotions, or any other happy occasion? If your answer includes any sort of drug, you’ll want to get creative and figure out something new. Go wild with a hobby for the day, treat yourself to a nice dinner, or take a weekend trip. Make sure it’s something you can get excited about.
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