April 21, 2012
There are several things we can do to prevent ourselves from relapsing. We also have many strategies that we use in recovery to maintain our sobriety and keep ourselves healthy. The first rule of recovery is that we must change our lives. What about our lives need to be changed? Well just about everything really. Not everything but almost. There are really only a few reasons as to why people use drugs and alcohol and those reasons are: to escape, to relax, and to reward ourselves. We are trying to escape from the feelings inside of us, or from some other pain in our lives that may be from past events or current situations. We are trying to relax from our busy lives, we have so much going on or we have to much stress and tension in our lives that we turn to drugs and alcohol because we don’t have any other form of relaxation. We feel it necessary to reward ourselves for something we have done or being who we are so we use drugs or alcohol as that reward because it creates a “euphoria” within us that not only rewards us, but also relaxes us and allows us to escape from everything and everyone else in our lives for a short period of time. All summed up we use drugs and alcohol to relieve stress and tension from our lives. What we fail to realize is that the drugs/alcohol are only a temporary fix to our problem. When the “euphoric” feeling wears off we are right back where we started and either have to “use” again to obtain that same escape or we just deal with it. We come to a point where we cross that line when we no longer are using the drugs recreationally, we are dependent upon them and now we have to have them in order to be able to function in our daily lives. Once we get this point we no longer have this escape anymore. We have to put so much effort and energy into getting what we need that we are wearing ourselves out just to get high.
Relaxation in recovery is truly important. Remember it was one of the reasons some of us began to use in the first place, so we must find time for it in our recovery in order to have a healthy, balanced program. Relaxation is not optional in recovery, it is an essential part of it. We can’t be to busy to have time to relax. I know we have busy lives today, but it is important that we take time out of each day to just sit and do nothing but allow our bodys to relax and not worry or think about nothing. For me, I use my meditation time as my relaxation time. If I end up having spare time during the day then I take another 20 to 40 minutes out to just sit and relax. Also, you can do other stuff to relax such as: going for a walk, sitting at the park watching others, reading a good book, meditation is an excellent way to relax (not only are you relaxing but you are also allowing your higher power(God) to connect spiritually with you), and there are several other ways that you can relax. Find something that works for you and take time each day to set aside just for relaxation. There have been studies done that statistically prove that relaxation significantly decreases the use of drugs and alcohol.
Honesty is another part of recovery that should play a role in your relapse prevention strategy. When we were using we had to constantly lie about all kinds of different stuff. We was always manipulating people to get what we wanted in order to have what we needed to keep from being sick. We spent a lot of time coming up with stories to tell others so that we could get money or whatever we needed from them. How many times did we tell our dealers a lie to get a front, how many times did we lie to our families or loved ones or friends to borrow money from that we already owed who knows how much. We lied constantly and now we must be honest in order to succeed in recovery and to maintain a healthy clean and sober life. Relapse prevention should be a big part of your recovery and honesty should be a large part of that. Your closest friends and family members should all know the signs and symptons of relapse so that they can see it happening and warn you so that you are able to stop it before you go out and use. A relapse happens long before you actually start using the drugs/alcohol again. My drug counselor taught me that we relapse before we pick up and if we educate the people closest to us about it, then they can hopefully warn us so that we can do something about it before we pick up again. A mistake that we often make, especially early in recovery, about honest is that we feel we have to be honest about honest people as well. It isn’t our job or our place to point out what is wrong with other people or to take their inventory for them. We have enough on our own plates and need to focus on our own recovery and fix ourselves so that we can help others once we are healthy enough. We spent a lot of time lyeing when we was out their using, so when we come to recovery honesty isn’t going to be so easy at first and it isn’t going to feel natural to us, but we have to do it anyhow. It will get easier with time, just like everything else does with recovery.
Get a home group, a sponsor, and a good support group that you can trust and depend on to be there when you need them. A sponsor is someone who you would like as a teacher to guide you through recovery and the 12 steps. You like this persons recovery and their serenity and that is why your interested in having them as your sponsor. Having a sponsor is extremely important when it comes to working the steps, having a good program in place, creating a good relapse prevention plan, and maintaining sobriety. A good sponsor is there at all times and will always be there. They will guide you through the steps and will help you find good meetings to attend, will introduce you to good, healthy recovering people. Sponsors can be amazing if you allow them to be. They can help you build a solid foundation to your recovery that you can continue to build the rest of your life on. When you are searching for a home group, find one that you feel comfortable witn. A home group is one that is healthy, has some good clean time, and is one that you like. Don’t keep going to a meeting if you don’t like the recovery there. Not all groups have great recovery, and I’m not trying to put anyone else’s recovery down but we all know there is good just as well as bad. When choosing a home group though, find the right group because when you do, recovery becomes a lot easier. It needs to be a group that you connect with and that you find people that you have common interest with. Once you get comfortable with your home group and your support group there are ways you can get the most out of them. Don’t be afraid to share at meetings, getting your stuff out there not only helps you deal with it, but also helps others get well and know that they are dealing with the same things in their recovery. The magic happens when you give back and when you actively participate in the meetings by sharing your problems and your progression with others. It helps to listen to others as well but it doesn’t work one way, you have to be willing to share what is going on inside of you as well. If everyone just sat there waiting for the next person to share then we would all be right back where we started. Some of my favorite meetings are discussion meetings and I can share probably to much sometimes. The amount of meetings you go to is completely and totally up to you. I know some people tell you to go to 90 meetings in 90 days and that may be what you need to do, but you need to go to what makes you comfortable and what works for you. If you feel like you need to go to a meeting then go, and if you feel like you don’t need to go then you may need to go but that is totally up to you. Only you and your sponsor and support group know where you are in your recovery.
Another relapse prevention method is to continue to work the 12 steps and incorporate them into your daily life. The 12 steps are designed to bring us to a spiritual awakening and guide us from drug abuse and an unmanageable lifestyle. If we quit working the steps then our lives will more than likely become unmanageable again. If we incorporate the steps into our lives and continue to take inventory and do the next right things then we are actually preventing relapse without really trying. The steps will continually guide us through our lives as long as we continue to utilize them daily. Relapse prevention has to become a strategy that plays an important role in our lives in order to have a healthy recovery program. Once we put an effective relapse prevention and recovery strategy into play, we will notice changes in our recovery almost immediately. When we set time aside and start relaxing daily, we will see the stress and tension levels in our lives become lessened in just days. Which will also take away some of those cravings or urges that you may possibly still be having. It shows that stress and tension causes cravings and urges to use, so if we effectively create a relapse prevention and follow it and take out the time to relax then we should in turn be able to lessen our cravings and urges to use as a direct result.
Here are some important goals that we should have in our first year of recovery. Use this as a reminder to help you stay on track in your recovery, especially if your just getting started, or if your needing a refresher in your recovery:
•Accept that you have an addiction
•Practice honesty in your life
•Learn to avoid high-risk situations
•Ask for help
•Practice calling friends before you have cravings
•Become actively involved in twelve step groups
•Go to discussion meetings and begin to share
•Get a sponsor and do step work
•Get rid of using friends
•Make time for you and your recovery
•Practice saying no
•Take better care of yourself
•Develop healthy eating and sleeping habits
•Learn to relax and let go of stress
•Discover having fun without using
•“Play the tape forward” to deal with cravings
•Find ways to distract yourself when you have cravings
•Deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms
•Develop a strategy for social settings where drinking is involved
•Develop tolerance and compassion for yourself and others
•Say goodbye to your addiction
•See yourself as a non-user