The best way to protect yourself from relapse is to avoid temptation and stressful situations. During your time in addiction rehab, your team of doctors, therapists and other health professionals taught you how to deal with cravings when they hit; you may have also learned the importance of avoiding certain situations that could set you up for relapse.
But putting these lessons into practice on a daily basis is sometimes difficult. The best way to protect your sobriety is to have plenty of ways to avoid temptation.
Avoid Tempting Situations or People
Many situations can be tempting for recovering addicts. Office parties, family gatherings, summer cookouts and wedding receptions can all be a recipe for disaster for a recovering alcoholic. It may seem like a good idea to prove to others that you can resist the temptation to use, but avoiding these situations completely is the surest way to guard your sobriety.
But, if it is impossible to avoid alcohol, then use the following steps to protect yourself:
- Say, “No thank you!” Practice how you will decline alcohol before someone offers you a drink, because then you can avoid lengthy excuses or appearing as though you are still trying to make up your mind. You owe no one an explanation for refusing to drink, because you are not the only person at the event declining alcohol, even though it may seem like you are. Look the other person in the eyes and be firm in your response.
- Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand at all times. Ask your accountability partner or other close friend who knows your situation to bring you a drink so you can avoid the bar area completely.
- Ask for help from others before arriving at the event. People who support your sobriety and want to help you will have no problem refusing a drink along with you.
- Plan an escape in case temptation becomes too great. Develop a way to signal your friend or accountability partner that you need to leave. Do not leave such an event alone, as you are leaving because you feel vulnerable to relapse, which means you need some accountability.
- Keep track of the ways you have successfully refused a drink before and build on that success. Figure out whatever works and keep doing it.
Avoiding drug use can be easier than avoiding alcohol abuse. You know which of your friends use drugs and which ones do not, so commit to the relationships with only people who do not use drugs and let the rest go.
It may seem like a harsh response to those with whom you have a relationship, but, if a relationship is built around drug use, then it is unhealthy. Surround yourself with positive people who support your recovery and end the toxic relationships to avoid temptation.
Create a Wellness Schedule
A wellness schedule that includes regular exercise, proper nutrition and quality sleep can help you avoid temptations that lead to relapse. When people struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, malnutrition is often the result of a consistently poor diet. These problems can increase stress in both the mind and body, which can make drug cravings worse.
During drug treatment, patients are often required to make a daily schedule and stick to it. Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to a lifestyle that is spontaneous and void of any structure, but sticking to a healthy schedule can help you or your loved one avoid temptation and cope with cravings when they come.
Your wellness schedule should include the following elements:
- Get up at the same time each day. Set your alarm and go through your morning routine of showering, dressing, eating breakfast and brushing your teeth even if you have nothing on your agenda for the morning. These acts help wake up your mind and body while they also prepare you for whatever issue is coming next. If you are up and ready, then it also reduces the stress of any sudden changes in your schedule. You are prepared for anything.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. Eating a healthy breakfast gives your body and brain the necessary resources to function in the morning. If you turn to healthy foods in the morning instead of taking that first drink, then you set yourself up for positive choices throughout the day.
- Take a walk in the morning and in the afternoon or work in some other form of exercise. A morning walk helps increase your energy throughout the day.
- Set aside time to meditate. Meditating clears your mind of negativity and stress while it also gives you space to feel good about your choices. With such practices, you can stay in a more peaceful frame of mind throughout the day.
Doing these simple acts each day will motivate you to adopt other healthy habits. Healthy habits are some of the best defenses against the temptation to use drugs or alcohol, so the better they are, the better your recovery can be.
Stay Vigilant Against Relapse
As you progress in recovery, it is easy to forget that you are a reformed alcoholic or drug addict. Letting your guard down, if even for a moment, can begin a chain reaction of bad choices. On the other hand, staying vigilant throughout your recovery helps you avoid temptations that result in relapse. Remember, your recovery is a life-time commitment, so stay vigilant at all times to remain on the road to recovery.