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10 Tips to Help Stop the Worry about Relapse


internet-dangersFear of relapse can be a good thing as it shows that you are committed to sobriety. However, if you are too worried about this happening then it can make life in recovery unsatisfactory. Excessive worry could even become the reason why you eventually do decide to return to alcohol or drugs. The key to reducing worry is to take action, especially if this action is likely to reduce the likelihood of you relapsing. Below are just 10 suggestions for things you can do to strengthen your sobriety so the need to worry will be much less.

1. The Magic of Gratitude in Recovery

One of the most powerful things you can do to reduce the likelihood of relapse is to remain grateful for your sobriety. If you cherish this new life then you are likely to keep doing the things you need to do to keep it. The problem starts if you begin to take everything for granted and stop putting in the required effort. It is almost human nature to do this as new things quickly become accepted as part of life. This is why you have to make a conscious effort to remain grateful; one good way of doing this is to keep a gratitude diary in which you take note of all the good in your life on a daily basis.

2. Don’t Allow Relapse to Be an Option

As long as you think that relapse is an option, there will always be a struggle in your mind. You have probably heard the claim that ‘relapse is a normal part of recovery’, but it is important to understand what this actually means. It does not mean that it is ever okay to relapse or that there is any need for you to relapse. Plenty of people who give up alcohol or drugs remain stopped, so this is the only goal worth aiming for. The phrase ‘relapse is a normal part of recovery’ is not meant to be an instruction – it is just an observation that it is common for individuals to relapse a few times before they finally get sober for good. It is like saying that ‘failure is a normal part of life’; this does not mean that people should set out to fail or expect to fail.

3. Take Charge of Your Own Recovery

The one thing you do not want to be doing in recovery is wait for others to sort out your problems. It is common for those falling into addiction to develop a type of ‘learned helplessness’, but this needs to be overcome in order to begin the process of recovery. All the resources you need to build a better life are available, so it is up to you to make the most of these resources. If you are getting help from the professionals (for example, therapists), it is best to view these people as being on your team rather than them being there just to sort out your life. It is vital that you become proactive in order to get the most out of sobriety, meaning taking charge and responsibility for your own progress. The truth is that if you relapse then it is unlikely to be the fault of anyone else, although others are commonly used as an excuse.

4. Learn to Control Your Emotions – Especially Anger

A common reason why people relapse is that they lose their temper and, before they know it, they are in a bar drinking or buying drugs from their dealer. This is because when you are overwhelmed with anger, you will not be able to think rationally. This means that all your good intentions are going to be forgotten as your ability to make good decisions is lost to this rage. It is therefore vital that you learn how to control this anger so you can protect your sobriety. This is one of the issues that will be dealt with upon entering a quality rehab programme; there are also anger management courses available. If you are still struggling to control your emotions, this probably means you need to speak to your GP or see a therapist.

5. Be Prepared for the Challenges of Early Recovery

There are going to be some tough days in early recovery, but these will be much easier to deal with if you are prepared for them. Your journey will not be the exact same as those who have gone before you, but you can definitely learn from those who are further along the path. It is common for particular challenges to arise in early sobriety, such as guilt about the past, and days when it feels like you are going backwards. If you are expecting these things to happen, it will not be such a shock when they do happen.

6. Have a Strategy for Dealing with the Likely Challenges You Will Face

Knowing some of the difficulties you are likely to face does make these challenges less formidable, but it is also important that you have a strategy for dealing with each of these obstacles as they appear. If you are doing well in recovery, your thinking is likely to be clear and you will find it easier to make good decisions. The problem is that when things start to go wrong, your thinking is likely to become less clear due to stress and worry. The benefit of having a strategy is that you will have your best thinking there with you on the bad days.

7. Have a Strategy for Dealing with Relapse Triggers

You have probably already heard about the most common relapse triggers – these are hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness (easily remembered using the acronym HALT).  It is important to not only be aware of the common relapse triggers, but to also have a strategy for dealing with them; for example, if you are feeling lonely, you need to find some company. You will also strengthen your sobriety by learning about the less common relapse triggers and having a plan for dealing with these as well ( for example, disappointment, complacency, and the desire for a reward).

8. Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan

If you go through a rehab programme, you should spend a good bit of time developing a relapse prevention plan. This is the strategy that can be developed which will reduce the likelihood of a relapse occurring; it also includes the steps you are going to take if you feel close to a relapse. It is important that you have your own relapse prevention plan and that you keep it somewhere handy so that you can use it as and when the need arises. Ideally, you can take a concise overview of this plan with you wherever you go, which is easier to do these days thanks to apps on mobile devices.

9. Stick with the Winners

The people you spend your time with are likely to have a significant impact on your opinions, outlook, and motivation. Therefore, if you want to succeed in recovery, it is important that you spend time with the people who are already succeeding. Do not just assume that because somebody is in recovery that he or she is naturally a good person to be around. The reality is that you will find people in recovery meetings who are struggling or who are dealing with dry drunk symptoms, so if you spend too much time with these individuals it could begin to have a negative impact on your own sobriety.

10. Make Sure You Get Enough Support

One of the other common reasons why people relapse is that they did not have enough support. Attending fellowship meetings, or joining a recovery community, may seem unnecessary, but it can be vital if you want a strong sobriety. It is much better to have too much support than too little.

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