Struggling with addiction can be one of the most challenging experiences to have to face, and it is a continuing effort to stay sober once you have made it through your recovery period. Many things could tempt you to return to your old habits, and relapse is a common occurrence for addicts.
While relapse is an unfortunate thing, it’s important not to give up and try again to get yourself back on track with a healthy, clean lifestyle. If you’re a former addict or you know someone who has recently become sober, here are a few useful tips that will help you avoid falling back into your addiction.
1. Know Your Triggers
Often, substance or alcohol addiction develops as individuals use substances as coping mechanisms for handling other pressures in life. If you want to stay sober, it’s important to understand what your triggers are and why you turned to substance abuse in the first place. Being able to recognize situations or feelings that make you want to use again can help you change your habits, and find healthier and more constructive ways of handling those difficult circumstances.
2. Avoid Other Addicts
You might have had friends or acquaintances that enable you when you were an addict, and this could be because they were addicts themselves. Although you may have relied on these relationships when you were using, and still feel a connection to these people if they are continuing that behavior, it’s important that you avoid communication with them.
It’s easy to fall back into old habits and routines and being around other addicts might mean they encourage you to indulge in your addiction once again. Even though it might feel harsh or difficult to leave these people behind, if they will not respect and understand your sobriety, they should no longer have a place in your life.
3. Recognize Signs of Relapse
You might know what your triggers are, but it’s equally as important to recognize the signs of relapse once you have moved on from rehab. As mentioned above, it’s easy to fall back into old habits, and if you begin to notice that your thought process is moving back into how it was when you were an addict, this could be a warning sign that relapse is around the corner. Being able to see this before you start drinking or using again is important, as you can then take the right steps to avoid this from happening.
4. Get the Right Support
Stay in touch with your sponsor or other professionals that have helped you overcome your addiction. They will be able to help you if you are concerned about relapsing, or they can offer your further guidance about how to adjust to sober living. Depending on the severity of your case, you may even want to consider looking at sober living programs if you have finished an inpatient rehab program. This could provide you with more intensive support in your first year of being sober to help you stay on track. You should also spend time with friends and family who have helped you through your recovery, especially if you feel that your relationships with them have been affected by your addiction and you want to rebuild that trust and strengthen those bonds.
You will have experienced withdrawal symptoms in the early stages of your addiction recovery, but you still might have to deal with this later on while you’re trying to stay sober. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome can last for up to two years after you have gone sober and can lead to difficulties sleeping, irritability, and even bouts of anxiety and depression. These feelings might make you tempted to use again to ease these symptoms, but if you’re prepared and have the right support network to help you through, this should help you manage your withdrawal.
Another thing that might be helpful for staying sober is introducing a good routine into your day. It’s important not to take on too much at once and overwhelm yourself, but having a structure to your day can help keep you occupied and distract you from thoughts and the temptation to return to your old ways. Regulate your sleeping pattern and find hobbies that you enjoy that will fit well into your daily schedule.
7. Healthy Living
If your addiction has led to years of unhealthy living, this is likely to have taken a toll on your physical and mental health. As well as staying sober, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and your diet. You can use this as part of creating a good routine for yourself as well. For example, this could involve going for a morning walk or jog, planning your meals, and eating around the same time every day. You should also look at using mindfulness techniques to help you with your mental health and to help you have an improved outlook on life.
8. Manage Your Finances
Financial stress is something that everyone has to deal with in life, but if you used to turn to your addiction to cope with this kind of stress it’s important to avoid it. Managing your finances sensibly will help you get back on your feet once you have come out of recovery, and reduce the chances of you feeling anxious about your financial security.
9. Reward Yourself
Finally, your journey through recovery was no easy feat, but you did it! This is something you should be proud of every day, so remember to give yourself some credit. You should also celebrate all those important milestones of your sobriety to remind yourself of how well you’re doing and all you have achieved from the moment you decided to get sober up till now. Find healthy ways to reward yourself, whether that’s cooking a delicious meal or going out for dinner with friends and family, or even treating yourself to a spa day. You’ve worked hard and continue to work hard for your sobriety every day, so you deserve recognition for your efforts.
Staying sober might feel like an ongoing battle, but just remember to take it one day at a time, and use these tips to help you stay on track.
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