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What are the Most Effective Techniques for Preventing Relapse?


relapseThe fact that you are worried about relapse can actually be a good sign as it shows that you are taking your recovery seriously. It may sometimes appear that many individuals relapse for no reason, but this is never really the case. The reality is that this return to addiction always happens for a reason, and there would have been ways to prevent this from happening. There are things that you can do to create a solid sobriety and this will greatly reduce your likelihood of relapse. Below are some of the most effective techniques for relapse prevention.

Remain Grateful for Your Recovery

So long as you remain grateful for your recovery, it is very unlikely that you would ever relapse. This is because the fact that you feel grateful means you are willing to work hard to maintain your sobriety, and you will not give it up easily. The problem starts when you become disillusioned with your progress or you start taking things for granted; this weakens your resolve, opening the door for drinking or drug-using thoughts. It is important that you take active steps to remain grateful in recovery and a good option is to keep a daily gratitude journal.

Avoid the Common Relapse Triggers

There are certain situations where you would be at much higher risk of relapse than usual. The four most common relapse triggers can be easily remembered using the acronym HALT – hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. When you experience any of these feelings, it will mean that you are at higher risk of relapse. The solution is to avoid them as much as possible; for example, if you are feeling hungry, you need to eat something right away. There are also plenty of other relapse triggers, such as resentment, jealousy, disappointment, dishonest behaviour, and negative thinking.

Learn about the Relapse Process

One of the important things you need to learn about during your time in rehab is the relapse process. This type of event does not just happen unexpectedly; there is always a build-up, even if the individual is completely unaware of it. The relapse process is not an exact description of what happens as everyone experiences it differently, but it can give a general idea of what it involves.

The relapse process usually follows a pattern that includes:

  • becoming stuck in recovery, not making progress
  • becoming frustrated at the lack of progress
  • becoming increasingly disillusioned with their new life
  • behaviour begins to deteriorate; others may notice that there is something wrong
  • turning to maladaptive behaviours
  • relapse; it is usually a small event that triggers this but the real cause is becoming stuck.

It is possible to prevent the relapse process at any time, which is why it is crucial you are able to spot what is happening.

Keep a Daily Journal

Keeping a daily journal in recovery can sound like an undesirable chore, but it is a very effective technique for strengthening your sobriety. The benefit is that it allows you to track your progress, but more importantly seeing how much progress you are making. It is easy to miss the improvements that are happening in your life because they could happen so slowly, but maintaining a journal makes it easier to see how things are evolving. The other great benefit of this journal writing is that it allows you to see patterns in your recovery; for example, if you enter a period of worry, you may be able to look back and see how you coped with such situations previously.

Build a Strong Support Network

It is vital that you have some type of support network in recovery because this may be the only thing keeping you sober when things get hard. A good solution is to join one of the fellowship groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The benefit of this is that it allows you to instantly connect with a group of people who are in a similar situation. It is common to underestimate social support needs when getting sober, but this often ends up costing their sobriety.

Remember that Relapse is s Process and Not an Event

The process of breaking away from addiction never really ends. This is because there would have been reasons why you fell into this behaviour in the first place, so tackling these issues could be the work of a lifetime. It is important to always keep in mind that the goal is always progress and never perfection, but you do need to keep on making progress. It is likely that there are aspects of your character that are getting in the way of your success – just like everyone else on the planet – so the process of recovery involves chipping away at these character flaws.

Always Be Willing to Ask for Help

If you begin having thoughts about relapse, the worst thing you could possible do is keep this to yourself. You need to talk about these thoughts and feelings with others; preferably somebody who understands what you are going through. It can sometimes feel hard to ask for help, but taking this step can be enough to prevent you from returning to the misery of addiction. Addiction wants you to isolate because you are far less able to defend yourself when you are alone.

Never Allow Anything Else Get in the Way of Your Recovery

It is vital that staying sober is your number one priority in life and this is true even if you have been sober for thirty years. There are obviously plenty of other important considerations as well, but the reality is that if you lose your sobriety, you risk losing everything anyway. It is vital that you never allow anything to get in the way of you and your recovery; if you have goals that put this in jeopardy, it is strongly advised that you abandon them.

Stick with the Winners in Recovery

Spending time with the right people in recovery is crucial because this will inspire you and encourage you to do the right thing. There is the suggestion that each person ends up becoming the average of the five people he or she spends most of their time with. This means that if you are spending your time with those who are mostly strong in their recovery, the likelihood is that you are going to have a strong recovery as well. It is best to avoid spending too much time with those who are negative or who are currently abusing alcohol or drugs.

Help Other People in Recovery

One of the most significant things you can do to strengthen your recovery is to focus more on other people. This will increase the strength of your sobriety, which will greatly increase your self-esteem. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say that if you want to keep it, you need to give it away – this is a very wise approach to recovery. 

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