Relapse does not have to be part of recovery. To ensure that you or a newly sober loved one don’t fall victim to a relapse there are many things that you can do. Preventive techniques and coping skills can really help someone before they relapse and some of them are very simple. Here are 10 simple ways to prevent a relapse from occurring.
Talk to a friend
It sounds so simple, but talking to someone about what you are thinking or feeling can really help get you through that tough time. Whether you have been thinking about drinking or using a drug, letting someone know is an easy way get it off your chest and can alleviate the thought or craving. Sometimes it’s the action of talking about it that helps, but the feedback that you may receive from the person you told could also help get you through the tough time.
If you don’t have friend or someone you can talk to when you are feeling close to a relapse, then finding support is very important. Drug and alcohol support groups exist all over the world. 12-step groups advertise in newspapers and various news sources, but there are many other types of support groups also. A simple google search can help you find very specific support groups in your area for what you are looking for. If a support group isn’t what you want, that’s fine too. Therapy and counseling is a great way to get support as well.
Trying to stay busy is a great way to prevent a relapse in early recovery. Find a hobby or a job and start working. It’s amazing how quickly the mind can get distracted from a thought about relapse when you are busy working or doing something like a hobby. Boredom is an easy way to find yourself close to a relapse, so if you stay busy then you are less likely to get bored.
Stay away from old friends
12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have a suggestion that it is a good idea to stay away from old drinking buddies after you enter recovery. This suggestion is really for preventing a relapse, because the idea is that you could run into an old friend and find out that all you had in common was drinking or using drugs, so inevitably, you would relapse with them. Obviously, this isn’t always the case with old friends, but if your old friends do use drugs or alcohol, then staying away from them will probably make it easier for you not to relapse.
Clean out your car and house
Making sure that your car and home are free of drugs and alcohol is a great way to ensure that you don’t relapse. It is not always easy to be able to clean out your home and car by yourself especially when drugs and alcohol are the main thing that you are throwing away, so try and see if you can get a friend or family member to help. If you are able to have someone else do it altogether, it is probably even safer.
Try yoga or exercising
Taking up practices like yoga or starting to exercise can be great ways to calm the mind which may end up helping prevent a relapse also. Whether you are looking for a drug free rush of endorphins or just need to take a deep breath and meditate, yoga and exercise is a great way to use your energy. Many people find it necessary to get out excess energy in order to relax or focus better and this could help prevent a relapse, because not only is yoga and exercise going to have you breathing heavily, but it is also a great way keep you focused and relaxed in life.
Change your phone number
In order to stay away from triggers like people that used to sell drugs to you, it is a good idea to have someone delete those numbers from your phone. Take it one step further and you could change your phone number altogether.
Giving your time to someone in need is a great way to stop thinking about whatever it is that is making you feel like relapsing. This is another simple tactic for keeping busy, but it is also self-fulfilling. Maybe you have a friend that needs someone to listen to them or just needs a ride somewhere. Either way, both is giving of yourself to that person and helping them, which may also help you forget about whatever was bothering you in the first place. Just be careful if you are trying to help someone who is using drugs and alcohol. It is probably a good idea to have some other sober help available if you find yourself in a situation where you want to help someone who is currently using drugs or alcohol.
Take your medication
If you are prescribed medications for a mental health condition, then make sure you continue taking them while you are sober. Just because you may not be feeling anxious or depressed, doesn’t mean that you should abruptly stop taking prescribed medications for those conditions. A relapse can occur after a person stops taking their medications, because the person may start feeling anxious or depressed again and use drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with these conditions. Please talk to your doctor if you are thinking about stopping a medication, rather than trying to stop taking it by yourself.
If you were in a substance abuse facility and have left that treatment center, then try and stay connected with regular communication with staff or attendance at alumni events. Staying connected to the place that may have started your journey to recovery is a great way to prevent a relapse.