There are a lot of moving parts to addiction relapse prevention. It would be nice to just put yourself on autopilot and cruise through the process, but unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. It does get easier over time as you develop healthy habits, but there are always addiction recovery goals to focus on. Here are some basic tasks to keep you on track.
Relapse Prevention Tip #1 Pay Attention to Your Body
Addiction begins in the brain, and your brain isn’t isolated from the rest of you. You want to make new associations and build new neural pathways, which requires physical resources. Increasing your overall physical health will help make your brain stronger and more resilient.
A good nutrient-rich diet gives your body the fuel it needs to rebuild. Exercise provides your body with oxygen and promotes the release of body chemicals that help your brain. Sleep is vital because the brain detoxes at night. It’s also important to do your best to avoid both natural and synthetic toxins, like mold and harmful chemicals. Physical discomfort can trigger the desire to use, so try to avoid getting overly hungry or fatigued.
Relapse Prevention Tip #2 Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
There are some common thoughts that lead to relapse. For example, you may find yourself remembering good times from your substance-using days and forgetting the bad ones. You may think things like “I’m strong enough now to use moderately and not go overboard” or “I’ve been good for so long that I deserve a break.”
Sometimes our thoughts just barely rise to the level of consciousness, and if we don’t take time to focus on them, we might not be fully aware of the mental path we’re following. Journaling can help you see your thoughts more clearly. When you find yourself in an unhelpful thinking pattern, ask questions like “What’s the evidence for that? Is there another way to look at it?”
Sometimes an environmental cue will trigger thoughts of using. An article on addiction relapse prevention notes that being around people who were part of your addiction can be problematic, even if they aren’t still in the lifestyle themselves. Spending time in places associated with drug or alcohol use can also be challenging, so do your best to avoid it.
Relapse Prevention Tip #3 Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Uncomfortable feelings, such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger and more, are very common relapse triggers. As with thoughts, sometimes we aren’t even fully aware of our feelings, and when we are, we don’t always address them in a healthy way.
An article on addiction relapse prevention from the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine notes that some of the emotional warning signs of relapse include bottling up emotions, either not going to support group meetings or going but not sharing, and focusing on others (how they affect you or their problems) rather than your own emotional state.
It’s important to find healthy ways to identify and address uncomfortable emotions when they arise and also to work to prevent them as much as possible. Regular practices that calm your nervous system can help regulate your moods. These include meditation, breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and physical exercise.
It’s also important to focus on what’s going right as well as what’s going wrong. The writer of a Harvard Health blog says that when he was in addiction treatment, he was asked to write a daily gratitude list. He notes that “it grounds me in the fact that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.”
Prevention Plans with The Right Step Hill Country
If you’re in relapse or just want to shore up your defenses to help prevent one, we can help. Give us a call at 844.767.9965. Let us keep you on the right path or help you find your way back to it. Your recovery is worth fighting for.