Recovery has many ups and downs along its way, with many temptations to return back to addiction. The ability to know your personal triggers as part of a relapse prevention plan is essential. In fact, the concepts of awareness of personal triggers and relapse prevention go hand in hand. If you are someone who has recently sought treatment in an inpatient or partial hospitalization program, receiving treatment on an outpatient basis, or has been on an existing path of recovery, it is so very critical to stay connected to others for support.
As you experience all parts of yourself re-awaken, it may at times be very overwhelming. It as at these times that you need your strength from within, as well as, outside support to help continue down a mindful path of recovery. Remember, being alone was exactly where you were in your addiction, so it surely will not work in your recovery. Support is key from family, “healthy” peers, communities of recovery, a sponsor, and professionals. Accountability and guidance is critical to avoid relapse and recommended for your continued physical, emotional, spiritual growth and well-being.
It is so important to have as much awareness as you can to know your personal triggers that initially led you to your addiction because life will always keep knocking on your door. Triggers are much more than times of high risk, which can include holidays, exams, divorce, death, stress, as well as relationships, marriage, having a child, and aging. A trigger includes your interpretations and responses to these events. They also include emotions, such as loneliness, overwhelm, boredom, or/and fear, To be even more specific, a certain smell or sound, a song you hear on the radio, or simply a particular time of the day can be a trigger. So, by becoming more mindful of self on all levels, you will be more likely to continually increase your awareness of your OWN personal triggers. Again, this is a crucial part of a continual relapse prevention plan. Then you can make the choice to do something beneficial to your recovery instead of choosing the self-destructive behavior.
If someone you know has relapsed during their recovery process and found their way back to recovery, consider them lucky. Far too often relapse results in death, especially when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse. If they did in fact find their way back to recovery, one can only hope that the “slip” was used as an opportunity to take positive steps to understand what can be different in the future to change the outcome. It is critical to explore what happened step by step and make a new plan for the future. This will increase the likelihood one may not need to rely on their addiction, or other self-destructive behavior the next time he or she is faced with that same situation, thoughts, and/or feelings. Remember, the shame and guilt that surrounds relapse is enough to drive one to continue in their self-destructive behavior. That critical and demeaning chatter in one’s head can get loud very quickly. Anyone in recovery must have the tools to replace that dangerous mindset. In my book, EATING DISORDERS: Decode the Controlled Chaos, I discuss an action oriented approach, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), to help one to identify and challenge their irrational and maladaptive beliefs that can cause one to engage in self-destructive behaviors and eventually to relapse.
Here is a brief list of things to do to avoid relapse:
- Limit your surroundings of temptation.
- Keep building a strong support system.
- Live life a bit slower.
- Learn how to live responsibly as you face continual social pressures.
- Acknowledge your successes on a daily basis.
- Manage boredom and loneliness.
- Reach out to safe people everyday.
- Acknowledge your urges and choose to do something different.
- Listen to your body – get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, take care of your health to strengthen your immune system.
- Take direction from those who are succeeding in their recovery.
- Make sure to have fun.
- Find something to laugh and smile about everyday.
- You need to feel to heal.
- Become involved in a 12-step recovery program such as, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), OA (Overeaters Anonymous), EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous), or any other 12-step programs and GO TO A MEETING! IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO, IT MOST LIKELY MEANS YOU NEED TO GO!
Relapse prevention work is also an opportunity to stay focused on your strengths. If you are reading this as someone in recovery, please remember, you are not alone and there is no perfect recovery, only your recovery. The more success you have on your journey, see that you can walk through the tough times, reconnect to your healthy self, and experience gratifying and authentic relationships, the more you truly begin to live again.
Share this message with anyone you may know who is living on the journey of recovery. Remember, there is power in every voice and your voice may help someone else. Your knowledge may just save a life.
This content of this blog post written by Erica Ives, is published in Recovery Today.
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