If you have taken steps towards a life of sobriety and have completed a programme of rehabilitation, you are probably looking forward to your new life and all the joy it promises to bring. However, addiction is an illness and, as with all illnesses, relapse is possible.
Many people are of the opinion that relapse occurs once a recovering addict begins taking drugs or drinking alcohol again. Nevertheless, the reality is that relapse begins to be set in motion as soon as the person thinks about drinking or taking drugs. Many who are in recovery will wrongly believe that it would be okay for them to have one drink or take drugs just once. They believe that they are now strong enough to drink or take drugs in moderation. At the back of their mind, they may know that to do so could be the start of their troubles but they may be romanticising the times when they were using, which could be enough to signal a full-blown relapse.
During rehabilitation, it is common for therapists and counsellors to work with recovering addicts to help them identify their triggers. Some of these triggers will be obvious, but some less so. Once an individual has identified what causes him or her to turn to drugs or alcohol, he or she should, in theory, be able to avoid such triggers in recovery – but it is not always that easy.
While it is obvious that an alcoholic should avoid going to the pub with an old drinking friend, especially in the beginning to avoid temptation, it may not be obvious that a particular song will remind him or her of a time when drinking was a big part of life. Various situations can leave recovering addicts feeling vulnerable and open to temptation. It is important that these situations be identified and then avoided.
It is essential that recovering addicts avoid places where they used to take drugs or have a drink. Bars, clubs, parties, and anywhere else where drinking or drug taking took place should be avoided altogether, especially in early recovery. It may even be the case that you need to take a different route in your car just to avoid them.
Many recovering addicts change their routines at home too, just to avoid the familiarisation of things they used to do when drinking or taking drugs. For example, if you always drank while watching football in the living room, try watching it in a different room, such as the bedroom.
Try to spend most of your time in places where alcohol and drugs would be unacceptable, such as a library, museum, gym, or shopping centre.
Just as you may need to avoid certain places in early recovery, you may need to avoid certain people as well. The individuals you used to drink or take drugs with should be avoided, especially if they are still drinking or taking drugs. In early recovery, you are probably not strong enough to associate with old drinking or drug-taking friends, so for the time being, avoid them.
You may also have to consider avoiding social media for a while, especially if these people are posting photos and comments about the ‘fun’ they are having while partying. If you cannot avoid social media, consider deleting your old accounts and setting up new ones with ‘safe friends’.
Try to spend time with other recovering addicts you may have met through your time in rehab. You can also speak to professional counsellors and therapists for advice and support if you feel as though you are in danger of relapse. Contact Addiction Helper today for free, confidential advice and support.