Completing the residential treatment program at St. Gregory Recovery Center provides you with the skills you need to build a sober future for yourself, but it’s important to understand that relapse is always a possibility.
Relapses can happen for a number of different reasons, so taking the time to learn how to avoid common triggers can make sure you stay on the right path.
Relapse Trigger #1: You’re Bored.
Feeding an active addiction is a time-consuming endeavor. Now that you’re no longer focused on using drugs and alcohol, it’s natural to wonder how you’ll fill those extra hours.
Even if you consider yourself a “spontaneous” person, structure is a necessary part of a sober life. Setting a schedule for yourself can give you a better sense of how to fill your days. Blocking out time for work, school, family activities, exercise, meal planning, and recovery-related appointments keeps you from wondering what you should be doing next and ensures that you’re working towards developing a wellness-focused lifestyle.
When you have down time, hobbies are a great way to prevent relapse. Whether you decide to take up painting, gardening, woodworking, or playing an instrument, hobbies provide a sense of identity free from drugs and alcohol. You can return to the same activities you enjoyed before you developed a substance abuse problem or take the time to explore new interests.
If you’re not sure what you might enjoy, ask your loved ones what they like to do for fun. Spending quality time together engaged in their favorite hobbies can help repair your relationship while giving you a better sense of what you might enjoy on your own.
Relapse Trigger #2: You’re Feeling Lonely.
Feeling lonely in recovery is common because your relationships with family may have been damaged by your addiction and many of your former friends may still be actively using. To stay on the right path, you need to work on expanding your social circle. A few ideas to consider include:
- Attending worship services can help you meet new people who share your faith.
- Volunteering for a cause you believe in gives you a chance to make friends and give back to the community.
- Taking exercise classes at the local gym boosts endorphins, builds your strength, and lets you socialize.
- Joining a community theater group gives you a creative outlet and a project that’s tailor made for meeting new people.
- Signing up for a class to boost your job skills can help you move your career forward while meeting people who share your professional interests.
As you’re making new friends, remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your recovery journey. You can choose to share your story if you feel comfortable, but you are entitled to keep this part of your life private if you wish.
Relapse Trigger #3: You’re Stressed.
It’s common for people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to use substance abuse as a way to relieve stress. If you were accustomed to self-medicating stressful feelings, you need to find an alternative way to cope with what’s bothering you
Some popular ways to relieve stress include:
- Talk to a friend. Talking about what’s bothering you can lift the weight off your shoulders, even when you’re simply venting and not looking for help solving the problem.
- Write about how you’re feeling in your journal. Getting your thoughts down on paper lets you look at a problem more objectively and may allow you to find a solution that reduces your stress level.
- Meditate. Meditation promotes mindfulness, which is a fancy way of saying that you’re focusing on the present moment instead of worrying about the future and things you can’t control.
- Hit the gym. Strenuous physical activity, such as running, lifting weights, or hitting a punching bag, helps you channel the angry or frustrated feelings that can come with a stressful situation.
Relapse Trigger #4: You’ve Become Complacent.
Being confident in your sobriety is wonderful. You deserve to celebrate your accomplishments and the progress you’ve made in your recovery. However, this doesn’t mean that you can pronounce yourself cured and abandon the habits you’ve worked so hard to develop.
Complacency can take many forms. You might start skipping appointments with your therapist or stop refilling the prescription you received for a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression. You might give up exercising and eating right. Or, you might go to a party and tell yourself you’ll have “just one” drink to celebrate.
Accountability keeps you from becoming complacent. You don’t necessarily need to spend every waking minute thinking about your recovery, but you do need to “check in” with yourself or someone you trust periodically. Reminding yourself of all you’ve gained since becoming sober keeps you focused on maintaining your recovery momentum.