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Essential relapse prevention skills in recovery

Essential relapse prevention skills in recovery

Relapse prevention is part of the recovery process. Learning the dangers of relapsing and learning what you can do to directly prevent yourself from relapsing will be one of many critical skills that you learn while in recovery.

While expecting relapse is not a healthy way to go about the recovery process, having a plan in place to help you if you do relapse is critical. Recovery is a journey that leads to self-knowledge. People who fight and successfully overcome addiction will likely learn more about themselves in that process than at any other time in their lives.

So without further adieu, let’s get into relapse prevention.

What Makes Relapse Prevention Important

Relapse, again, is part of the recovery process. Learning what makes you do the things you do, along with your desires and every other seemingly automatic process is extremely freeing.

Life after addiction is no walk in the park. There are countless things that can lead an individual to relapse. These triggers are not the same for everyone, but they can still be recognized as potential threats for someone who has only started recovery. These triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Loneliness
  • Work trouble
  • Relationship issues
  • Specific smells
  • Specific tastes

These are only a few of what could lead someone to start relapsing. This is also part of why recovering is so difficult – all of these things are likely so common in everyone’s life.

The life of an addicted individual is often not something that they have chosen despite their circumstances, it’s almost always because of their circumstances. Recovering means not only getting over your addiction, it means dealing with the thing (or multiple things) that lead you to become addicted in the first place.

Rehab centers are good for helping one safely and quickly get clean from a substance and work through their withdrawal. Rehab is not some magical place, however, and it can only do so much for an addicted individual’s life. Once they are clean and have moved on from rehab, the now sober individual must go back into life, with all of its temptations and live without the crutches that they used to rely on.

If it’s not clear with the above, let’s make it crystal clear: a previously addicted individual will be tempted to relapse. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And when that moment comes, will the now sober person be able to suffer through the temptation or will they be broken by it.

This is why having this in mind before the temptation comes is so important. Creating a plan and working through it before will increase your success in each scenario thought of. Create a plan, learn the temptations, stick to the plan. That’s the goal.

Now let’s get into the specific skills that you can use to help conquer your temptations.

1. The H.A.L.T. Technique

H.A.L.T. is an acronym:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tired

If someone is feeling the desire to use, they can usually find the cause in one of these four symptoms. If you start to feel the urge to drink, ask yourself: am I feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

This won’t immediately alleviate the craving – and it’s not exactly designed to. The HALT method is designed to give yourself a chance to take inventory of your emotions and give yourself the space to ask serious questions to yourself before making a big mistake.

The next time you feel the urge to pick your vice back up, use the HALT technique to give yourself a chance to make the right decision.

Essential relapse prevention skills in recovery

2. Treat Yourself

Recovery is a journey of self discovery. To learn about one’s self is to free them from all the things that were previously controlling them. To learn what makes you do the things you do is to take full autonomy of your actions and life, it’s simultaneously a terrifying and freeing experience.

In learning about yourself, you probably learned a lot about what you like. What are some things that you naturally gravitate towards? What are some things that you generally like? A happy, satisfied individual is someone who generally doesn’t look to drugs or alcohol for fulfillment.

This isn’t foolproof, as totally happy people can still fall prey to alcohol addiction, and this goes double for those who have been addicted previously. Keep your head on a swivel, but learn to take care of yourself when you need it.

3. Meditation

Meditation is such a broad term. There are so many different examples of what meditation looks like and how to do it the “right” way. This concept should be abolished. Meditation works so long as the individual participating believes it works.

This might seem counterintuitive at first – knowing that something is all in one’s own head would normally prevent it from working, right? Not necessarily. Studies have shown that meditation can work regardless of one’s perception of meditation.

So what does your meditation look like, then?

Meditation is the mulling over, acceptance, or focusing on a specific thing. In this case, the thing that should be meditatiated on would be your own sobriety, or the craving that you are currently experiencing.

Life comes at one fast. Nobody can control every aspect of their own life, and anyone that tries will inevitably fail. This failure will come with stress, overthinking, feelings of inadequacy, and so much more. These feelings usually follow a desire to cope, and that coping usually looks like picking the bottle back up or going out for a night on the town again.

Meditation gives one the opportunity to realize these things, accept them as they come, and live through them. Fighting your cravings and constantly suppressing them with all the strength that you have is too hard for one to do forever, especially without an outlet or a support group to pick them up.

Meditation allows one to accept their craving, settle into the uncomfortability that they won’t appease that desire, and then live life free of that craving once it has passed. It’s a much more freeing and fulfilling experience than ignoring your urges and hoping that they magically disappear, though in specific situations that could be one’s only option.

4. Know Your Triggers

As mentioned above, the reasons for relapse are known in a broad sense, but they change drastically from person to person. Knowing your personal triggers will help you stay away from them when you know you might be met with one, and help you prepare for it should they come and are unavoidable.

Knowing your triggers is also especially helpful for your close friends and support group. If these close individuals also know what could set your cravings off, they will be more mindful of them and help you overcome them as well.

5. Create or Join a Support Group

Support groups come in many different shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all, as everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to support. There will be some that need aggressive support when they don’t want it, and there will be people that desire a more hands-off approach. Either way, finding your people and those who can support you in your journey is incredibly important for your own recovery.

6. Reality Checks

Anxiety and stress are one of the most common reasons people turn to alcohol in the first place, it’s no question that they are also a reason that people turn to them after recovery or while in recovery.

Learning how to deal with anxiety and stress is so important when going into recovery, especially if you are already prone to either of these.

A classic technique that is well known is the “counting backwards from five” technique. It’s as easy as.. Well, counting backwards from five.

First, you find five distinct things that you can see. Then, find four things that you could touch. Next, find three things you can hear. After that, Find two things that smell. Lastly, look for one thing that you could taste.

It’s not required that you actually do any of the things that are mentioned, just that you recognize them for what they are. This method helps with panic attacks and stress in general.

7. Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques are much like the anxiety technique mentioned above. Focus on your breathing, go into manual breathing, close your eyes, and focus entirely on the flow of air through your body.

This helps people when too much is going on around them. This method is good when life just seems too overwhelming, loud, or messy.

8. Find Supporters

Your support group needs to be a regular thing, but the entire group won’t always be there for you 100% of the time. There will be moments when you are lonely, need a friend, and just feel like you might make a mistake. Creating a list of people that you can call in these moments is good so you can talk through your stress and hopefully get past it without any major mistakes.

It’s also important to let whoever knows that they are an emergency contact for you, and maybe even ask permission first.

9. Reach Out for Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, they don’t need to do it alone. Reach out to help at your nearest rehab facility, or, if you don’t know where to start, reach out to us at ecosoberhouse.com. We have the materials and the desire to help you get what you need.

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