7 Scientifically-Backed Tips for Relapse Prevention
Substance addiction has touched the lives of countless Americans; whether it’s happening to you or to someone you love, it can be the hardest thing you ever go through.
The road to recovery isn’t a smooth ride; it can take years to overcome addiction and it will stay with the individual (and the people that care about them) their entire lives. Even when the addict has drug treatment program or a rebab and no longer has the physiological dependency on the drug, the possibility of relapse is ever-present.
However, there are steps you can take to quash the repeated desire to abuse alcohol or drugs. Here are 7 tips for relapse prevention that are grounded in scientific fact.
Curate a list of triggers
True prevention begins before the temptation is introduced, so identifying the triggers that can cause an addict to relapse is crucial. On a piece of paper, write down the trigger (e.g. a person; a place; a smell; a taste; a song) and then beside it come up with a strategy to help overcome the situation, as well as a replacement for that trigger.
Everyone’s triggers are very different and are completely personal, but it’s important to remember that they don’t have to seem rational to be powerful.
Make new habits
It is vital for an addict or alcoholic to make new day-to-day habits; they must essentially commence a new life. They can no longer go to the same hang-out spots. It’s also best to avoid the same people they saw during the time of the addiction. These things are dangerously alluring and will act as a trigger for repeated alcoholism or drug-abuse.
Keeping busy is crucial for everybody as it keeps their minds distracted and out of dark places. Keeping distracted is especially key for people with substance use disorder, as cravings and urges – if left to fester – can intensify and lead to relapse.
A good way to keep occupied is to nurture a new hobby – one that you can stay engaged in and allows you to work towards a goal. Another good way to keep engaged in a less solitary way is to volunteer.
Come up with a list of things that interest you and make you happy – things that perhaps you’ve never had the time to do them before – and prioritize them.
Be honest with your loved ones
Battling addiction isn’t a one-person fight; it affects everyone whose lives are touched by that person. If you’re fighting addiction don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Addicts and alcoholics can experience strong urges than can sometimes lead to relapse, but instead of letting it consume you. You should open-up to loved ones, communicate how you’re feeling and accept their love. This will greatly increase your chances of riding it out and overcoming it.
Join a support group
When you or a loved one is battling addiction and resisting relapse, it can be difficult to understand and sympathize. By joining a support group of people who have experienced addiction and have similar stories to tell – but who no longer encourage addiction – you will have a safe place for honesty and growth.
SOBA’s Relapse Prevention group encourages clients who are working a 12-step program to identify their emotions and physical triggers after treatment, and enables them to work through their feelings in safe environment supported by people with similar experiences.
Implement a healthy lifestyle
Nurturing your body is a key component for anyone’s well-being, especially for an addict in recovery.
Consuming a nutritional, balanced diet full of fresh colorful foods will nourish your body; taking gentle walks or runs outside in the fresh air every day will help combat depression; and implementing a regular sleep schedule will help improve mood and concentration, control weight gain and prevent health risks.
Take it easy
Addiction can destroy the lives of many people. Even when an addict gets clean their prospects can be derailed. Therefore, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. The worst thing you can do when you’re on the road to recovery is put pressure on the situation. Instead, learn to take things as they come, and celebrate the small achievements rather than being fixed on an end goal. If a relapse occurs, don’t let it put you off course – get right back on the road to recovery and try new tactics.
With these 7 tips for preventing relapses, you or your loved one will have the best chance of long-lasting recovery. For more assistance on dealing with substance abuse, a treatment facility like SOBA College Recovery offers educational rehabilitation programs that helps its clients re-enter society.
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