If you or someone you know is trying to overcome a drug or alcohol addiction, you are likely wondering how to prevent relapse. Unless you understand the process and keep your eye on your goal, relapsing is unfortunately more common than you might think.
Relapsing is a natural part of recovery and should not discourage you, but finding ways to reduce your odds of relapsing is vital if you don’t want to fall into the same trap. Learning the top reasons that people have moments of weakness is a significant step forward when you would like to achieve and maintain sobriety.
Genes and Relapse
You probably think that combating addiction is about willpower and environmental factors, and you are correct in most cases. Scientists, however, have recently discovered that your genes could play a role in your likelihood of relapsing. They have experimented with lab mice and discovered that mice lacking a certain enzyme were much more likely to relapse. Finding a way to control that gene could be the key for which we have been looking, giving us a way to reduce addiction and help as many people as possible.
Stress and Relapse
Stress can affect your ability to remain sober, and not knowing about the threat puts you at an even greater risk. Staying sober is much easier when everything else in your life is going as you had planned, but it gets a lot harder when things fall out of place. The stress in your life could influence you to turn to old habits as a way to escape from issues that seem beyond your control. When the pressure of life overwhelms you, your willpower won’t be at its best, and this is a dangerous time as far as relapsing is concerned.
Bad Influences in Addiction Recovery
Having bad influences is often the No. 1 problem for those trying to combat addiction for good. Depending on the substance to which you were addicted, your addiction can stay with you for your entire life. While you can learn to manage and control it, bad influences will make your job much more challenging. Seeing people use your drug of choice can create an overwhelming amount of temptation that would put the most determined people to the test. If your friends pressure you to return to your old habits, relapse is likely.
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Overconfidence in Recovery
If you have overcome addiction and got your life back on the correct path, it’s easy to forget your past struggle. You might not remember how far you have come over the past weeks, months or years. This situation can cause you to become overconfident in your ability to control your addiction, and you might not see the harm in using or drinking one more time.
How to Prevent Relapse
Now that you have an idea of what causes people to relapse, you need to explore the ways you can prevent the problem from occurring. Arming yourself with the right tips and information will give you strength and keep you moving toward your goals. Although no plan can eliminate the risk of relapsing completely, it can give you the best possible results for long-term recovery.
Develop a Support Network in Recovery
Having a strong support network is a critical piece of the puzzle when you want to avoid a relapse. You can speak to your family and close friends about your problem and ask them to help you stay focused on your future. Speaking with your support network when you feel the need to use can go a long way to stop you from giving in to temptation.
Find Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
Since stress can cause you to relapse when you least expect it, finding ways to control and manage your stress is important. Do your best to keep up with your daily and monthly obligations, and you will know you have done the right thing. In addition to keeping your life on track, meditation is another way for you to keep your stress under control so that you won’t relapse. Working out, starting a new hobby and listening to music reduces stress and gives you peace of mind.
Avoid Bad Influences
No matter how much you might want to deny it, your friends impact the way you behave and view the world. If you have friends who try to get you to drink or use drugs, staying sober will be harder than needed, and you can’t afford to take the risk. Without waiting, sit down to speak with your friends about your goals and your problem with addiction.
True friends who care about you and your well-being will respect your request and refrain from using drugs when you are around. If you have friends or family members who don’t respect your wish, cut them out of your life right away. Although it might seem harsh, you must do what it takes to prevent yourself from letting addiction take control.
Remind Yourself of What’s at Stake
The urge to return to past habits can consume you unless you take steps to protect yourself from the problem. When you crave drugs or alcohol but want to remain sober, remind yourself of what’s at stake. If you give in to the cravings and allow them to assume control, you risk letting your life fall apart again, and getting back to where you are now will be an uphill battle. Also, list your goals and ambitions to stay focused on the reasons you want to remain sober, and it will help.
Getting Addiction Treatment
Although you can take many steps to stop yourself from experiencing a relapse, at-home solutions can’t compare to the touch of a trained expert. Seeking treatment at a proven rehabilitation center will skyrocket your odds of success so that you won’t need to worry about facing the battle alone. You will have access to support groups, therapists and supervised detox programs.
The team at Ocean Hills Recovery will stand in your corner and guide you at each step. Getting proper treatment will put you in control of your life and let you break the chains that have been holding you back for too long, and you will be happy with the direction in which we can move when we work together.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.