It can be very difficult to sustain any type of permanent lifestyle change, and in addiction treatment, a return to substance abuse is all too common. It is important to understand the difference between one-time use or a lapse and a full-blown return to addiction, which is considered a relapse. Relapse is not a failure, and according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it happens to around 40 to 60 percent of drug addicts.
There are some steps you can take to help avoid a relapse. These include:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoid previous triggers.
- Create a support network.
- Keep up your commitment to recovery.
- Be patient.
When you feel better physically, you are stronger mentally, and this can be vital tool in helping to maintain sobriety. Setting up a structured schedule that includes a nutritious diet plan, healthy doses of exercise, and a stable sleep pattern can help keep you on track.
Whole foods rich in nutrients and low in sugar can increase energy levels and strengthen your immune system. Getting the blood flowing through exercise not only improves your physical strength and cardiovascular levels, but can also be a great outlet to relieve stress and negative emotions. A healthier body and clearer mind can also help fight off cravings.
While this may sound counterproductive, avoiding certain situations may be necessary at least for a while. It is easy to get caught up in old habits when surrounded by emotional and social triggers that caused you to want to abuse substances in the first place. It is not a matter of emotional weakness; rather, it’s a smart way to avoid possible temptation. Sometimes you need to make a clean break from old acquaintances who are still engaged in substance abuse.
Forming or joining a positive support group can be a great way to help cope with symptoms and manage cravings. Surrounding yourself with other people who understand what you are going through can help combat feelings of isolation. Families can be great support networks when they get involved and understand the process as well. By spending more time with healthy people who support your choice to be substance-free, you are more likely to maintain your sobriety.
It can be easy to become complacent after some time has passed and you have been abstinent. Maybe you feel that meetings are no longer beneficial, or that you can contact old drinking buddies to hang out and be fine. It is very easy to slide back into old habits and increasingly important to stick to your treatment plan long-term. Recovery is a process, and it is different for everyone. Find something that works for you and stick with it.
The road to recovery can be a long one, and it is easy to sometimes lose motivation along the way. Know that relapse is common and does not indicate failure. If you have stayed clean for any length of time before, you can do it again. Pick up the pieces and start over. Reward yourself in a positive way for achieving small milestones, and remember to take things one day at a time.
Another important piece of the puzzle if you start to feel yourself slipping or desiring to give into cravings: don’t hesitate to reach out to a treatment center for help. Black Bear Lodge offers many different programs, both outpatient and residential, to help with all types of addictions and disorders in all stages. If you are, or a loved one is, struggling with addiction, call us at 706-914-2327 to talk with an admissions coordinator today.