Recovery from substance use disorders can be a perpetual process for some. In fact, some former users will say they are recovering addicts, rather than that they are recovered. This is because people realize there is always a chance of relapse post-recovery, whether it is immediately, months, or years after their treatment ends.
The first thing to understand about relapse is that it is not a sign of failure. Seeking treatment in the first place negates the idea that you can fail in your recovery. Addiction is a progressive disease, and without proper support, relapse is always possible.
There are ways that you can prevent relapse post-treatment. Many providers will recommend that people seek some form of therapy as part of their aftercare. This is because there are many emotions and urges that arise after leaving the treatment facility that people may not know how to process.
For instance, one long-term withdrawal symptom of opioid use is an inability to feel pleasure. This may cause someone to relapse to try and regain the euphoria felt from using. It is important that you have a mental health professional to guide you along with your post-treatment recovery.
Many people find they need to change their environment and peer-group. Hanging out with the same people in the same places you used to before treatment can be triggering. For many people, especially teens and adolescents, this can be very hard to accomplish. There is enough peer pressure for kids in those age groups as it is. The pressure to fit in by using substances does not stop just because they have completed treatment.
The same can be said for adults. If your whole lifestyle is based on going to a bar, how can you convince your peers that it is no longer healthy when they don’t recognize it in this manner? Sometimes, these peers do not understand how you can be addicted to a substance they cannot, and the pressure becomes too much. If it is necessary to change phone numbers or remove social media accounts, then do it.
There is no need to feel guilty, after all, they seem okay with pressuring you to use again. This can apply to any substance, though. It takes a lot of support to be able to make substantial life changes like that, which is why seeking therapy post-treatment is important.
Develop Healthy Routines
A lot of people find it helpful to develop a healthy routine or schedule. The schedule can consist of tasks that you wish to complete, self-care methods, or exercises to help relax and destress. Finding constructive ways to stay busy may help fight off urges. The brain needs activities to produce healthy amounts of dopamine to relearn healthy behaviors and habits. Simple activities like exercise, healthy eating, or engaging in different modes of art help people deal with their cravings post-recovery
Talk It Out
Also, if you have the urge to use and feel that relapse is possible, talk to someone about it. It doesn’t have to be a medical professional. It is important to find people you trust that you can confide in. Your support circle is there to help you navigate the journey of recovery. This can be them simply listening to your feelings, or giving advice on how to process emotions or feelings that seem strange and unusual. Having strong support is crucial to all steps in the recovery process.
Play the Tape
Another way to prevent relapse is to “play the tape through.” This simply means to replay your past experience and how it turned out. Some people think they can control drug use after recovery, because they may have learned some tips and tricks to prevent addiction.
But remember, that was your initial thought in the first place but now you know you cannot control it on your own. If it helps, create a dialogue between you and your inner voice about relapse and your past use. This is a good way to discover where you are mentally and if you may need more treatment.
It’s always important to remember that you shouldn’t experiment with substances other than what you sought treatment for. If you sought treatment for opioid use, you shouldn’t drink. If you seek treatment for alcoholism, you shouldn’t try marijuana. Sometimes, using other drugs can cause cravings for drugs you’ve been addicted to in the past. Especially alcohol, which lowers your inhibitions and may influence relapse. It is best to stay clear from all unhealthy or addictive substances.
Many people find it’s best to completely change their lifestyle. This means exercising, taking vitamins, making healthy eating choices, and abstaining from risky behavior. All of this is much easier said than done. It also doesn’t need to happen at once.
You can begin with exercise, even just 10 minutes a day. As time passes, you will realize how much better you feel and how your energy levels have improved. Once you start seeing a positive change, it’s easy to take it and run with it. It’s finding the motivation that is difficult. This is why making small changes at first is helpful.
Here at Northstar Transitions, we know that relapse doesn’t equate to failure. Relapse is a natural part of recovery. Understanding the reasons why relapse happens is important and we can teach you was to help prevent it. Many treatment centers will advise that you seek mental therapy post-recovery mostly due to the fact that the first stage of relapse is mental relapse and Northstar knows how important aftercare is. Northstar Treatment is here to help you achieve your recovery goals. Call us now at 1-303-558-6400.