Throughout your drug treatment program, professionals and peers helped you make your sobriety a priority, and you probably learned of various support groups and ways to help yourself stay drug free. To learn more about making your sobriety your priority, consider the following three suggestions:
- Embrace your relapse prevention plan
- Understand the role that stress can have on relapse
- Commit to the benefits of a sober life
With help, you can not only get clean, but also stay that way.
Embrace Your Relapse Prevention Plan
In the post, The Stages of Relapse, the author speaks about the fact that relapse is not an event, but rather a process that culminates as a result of emotional, mental and physical experiences. Keeping emotionally stable is very important throughout your life, but especially during your early sobriety when you are a bit more vulnerable to new, difficult experiences. Signs of emotional relapse including the following issues:
- Mood swings
- Avoiding help, especially recovery meetings
- Poor eating habits
- Poor sleep habits
In other words, to offset emotional relapse, you need to focus on self-care. Meeting your physical needs of eating well, exercising and getting plenty of rest are very important. In addition, you need to be socially active by interacting with people who avoid drugs. Furthermore, their help will teach you strategies to balance your emotions.
If emotional relapse progresses to mental relapse, then you are starting to think about using drugs again, which may include any of the following signs:
- Thinking about people and things you used drugs with (along with the places you did so)
- Glamorizing your past drug abuse
- Lying about your emotions and thoughts
- Hanging out with drug-using friends
- Fantasizing about using drugs
- Thinking about relapsing
- Planning your relapse around other people’s schedules
Mental relapse can put you at considerable risk for drug abuse, which can lead to physical relapse, the act of acquiring your substance of choice. To avoid giving in to these temptations, tell someone that you are having urges to use drugs again. Call a friend, a support professional or someone else who is in recovery. It is also helpful to distract yourself while you experience cravings, so find activities to occupy yourself, such as going for a walk or to a meeting. Focus on one day at a time and learn various relaxation strategies to stay clean for the long haul.
Understand the Role that Stress Can Have on Relapse
In the early stages of recovery, it is very important to keep your emotional balance, as stress can wreak havoc on your emotions, which may encourage relapse. In the post Stress: Sobriety’s Silent Saboteur, the author describes findings from a Yale University study: people may have biological markers that measure their reactions to stress and can indicate its role in relapse. The study was designed to look at how compulsive drug-seeking and cravings can create stress: the participants of the study attended inpatient treatment for four weeks and then submitted to blood tests to measure for cortisol (the stress hormone); they also allowed brain scans to see what happens when they thought of stressful events. The results indicate that people are 2.5 times more likely to relapse when they have elevated levels of stress.
Therefore, managing stress helps maintain sobriety. To do so, consider the following stress-relieving activities:
- Ask yourself what you can do about the sources of your stress and take action where you can
- Accept that, although you cannot control certain things, you are in charge of how you respond
- Stand up for yourself in a polite way
- Practice relaxation techniques, such as breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, yoga or tai chi.
- Exercise regularly, because you will feel better and be more prepared to handle problems
- Avoid too much sugar by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein
- Try to manage your time wisely
- Say no to things that would add more stress to your life
- Make time for hobbies and interests
- Get enough rest and sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
- Do not rely on alcohol, drugs or food to address stress. Ease up on caffeine, too.
- Spend time with people you love
- Talk with a counselor or take a stress management class for more help
Some common themes between the relapse prevention plan and the management of stress include a healthier lifestyle, relaxation strategies, avoiding isolation and reaching out when you need help. By focusing on these elements, you are in a better position to make sobriety a priority.
The Benefits of Sobriety
When you prioritize sobriety, it may help to think about and express gratitude for the benefits you receive from being sober. In the post, 10 Reasons Why Sober Is the New Cool, the author describes the following benefits of being sober:
- I remember everything now
- No more embarrassing nights
- My bank account has never looked better
- I never have a hangover
- No more toxins polluting my body
- I have more energy
- My relationships are stronger
- I enjoy life more because I know how to relax
- Commitment to anything is much easier now
- There is a respect level that comes with sobriety
Make your list of benefits of being sober and refer to them often to support your recovery.
Learn How to Make Your Sobriety a Priority
Please call our toll-free helpline now, as our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to provide you with useful resources for getting and staying clean.