How to Prevent a Relapse
Drug or alcohol addiction is not a choice; rather it’s a disease. It isn’t easy for addicts to stop using these substances one they have learnt that they are affected. And just like other diseases, the possibility of relapse is always there.
According to the estimates presented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 40 to 60% of patients suffering from drug addiction will likely face a relapse post treatment. The good news is that it isn’t impossible to avoid a relapse. Here are some tips that might help recovering addicts to keep themselves clean.
- Change your circle of friends
If you have decided to stop using alcohol and/or drugs, the first thing you need to do is to change your routine and reorganize everything around you. This includes your friends and acquaintances.
Addicts are strongly advised to pick a new set of friends at the start of their recovery process. The idea is to minimize the exposure to any temptation. Therefore, spending even a little amount of time with those using alcohol or drugs is not a good idea. These triggers can pose a lot of difficulties when you’re trying to abstain, especially in the early stages of recovery.
- Join a recovery group
Join groups such as ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ (AA) and ‘Narcotics Anonymous’ (NA). These Groups are excellent for your recovery as well as for preventing a relapse. The help and support received from the members will keep you focused on the recovery process and give you strength and hope for leading a healthy, fulfilling life, without the use of drugs and/or alcohol. Members are recommended to attend a meeting every day for at least 90 days when they join recovery. This further helps in reducing the risk of a relapse.
- Call someone when feeling out of control
Are you feeling extremely anxious and almost on the verge of picking up a drink or snorting heroin or some other drug? Call someone in your recovery group or a family member immediately. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and you might successfully overcome the urge to use. Sharing is one of the best ways to center your thoughts and feelings. It allows you to have a window in which you can regain control and the urges start to disappear.
- Avoid going to your old hangouts
You may have been a regular at bars, raves, strip clubs, college sorority parties and other places where drugs and alcohol are a culture. If you’re looking to stay sober in the long run, you would have to bid farewell to all these places as they are a huge trigger to your problem and can heighten the risk of a relapse. Along with finding new friends, you may have to seek safer hangouts such as cafes and move theaters to keep yourself away from all temptation
- Prescribed medication
Prescribed drugs such as suboxone are often used for treating opioid addiction. It contains buprenorphine and is especially helpful in diminishing cravings among those addicted to heroin.
tips to Recover after a Relapse
Research suggests that most recovering addicts, whether they have been dependent on alcohol or drugs, will likely experience one or more than one relapses before finally achieving long-lasting sobriety. This is just a reality, not a condemnation.
But what should you do after a relapse? Facing the facts may be difficult for a person who has recently experienced a relapse. They are likely to feel a lot of shame and guilt for having lost control and being unsuccessful in preventing a relapse.
Tip#1: Acceptance is the first step
If you relapse, you first need to accept that you have in fact faltered. Face up to the reality: you used again. Self-accountability and acceptance is the first step towards long-lasting recovery. Once you’ve accepted that you’re only human and that addiction is a cruel disease, you can go ahead and get the necessary help.
Tip#2: Return to your meetings
In order to continue recovering, it is vital to return to your 12-step meetings. Hold on to those who have been sober for a long time. You will gain immensely from the experience, hope and strength of others as they share in the meetings. Build a strong personal support group that works almost like a protection blanket around you. Reach out to people for help more actively than you have in the past.
Tip#3: Spend time with your sponsor
When you have successfully refocused your mind and body on recovery, it is time to take some action. Connect with your sponsor immediately. Be open and sincere in sharing your experience with them. It is important to avoid judging yourself and continuing to remain positive about the situation at all times. Think of the relapse as an opportunity for greater learning and growth.
Tell yourself that staying committed to recovery is a priority and that you will do all the necessary work to stay on track.
Tip#4: Be prepared for dealing with depression
It is common for recovering addicts to face crippling depression after a relapse. This depression has the potential to disrupt recovery. It might be a good idea to seek help from a recovery counselor or a psychologist who can help you deal with all the emotions and feelings which may have led to or triggered the relapse. At the same time, continue attending your 12-step meetings or any other self-help groups in order to work through depression.
Tip#5: Get medical help
There are certain medications, such as suboxone, which are prescribed by physicians and doctors to prevent chronic relapses. Suboxone is specially prescribed for treating opioid dependence, such as heroin addiction, and contains two main ingredients: naloxone and buprenorphine. While naloxone helps prevent misuse, buprenorphine reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms in the addict. When used under the guidance of an experienced de-addiction medical expert, these medications might be helpful in relapse recovery.