After escaping the grasp of an addiction, you are ready to move forward with life. The entire world is at your fingertips, and you feel stronger than ever. Thoughts of falling back into that other life are painful; they make your stomach drop and your head spin. Failure is not an option.
I have watched people win a battle with addiction but a few short months later give into temptation. It is heart-wrenching to see all of that work, time, and energy be washed away with a single slip. I want that success to continue on for a lifetime, but the reality of a relapse should never be ignored. Preparing yourself every single day will give you the strength to get through cravings and the rough spots.
Relapse Prevention Plan
A relapse prevention plan is the first thing you should create the moment you choose to stay sober. This is a plan that helps identify situations or things that might trigger cravings or a relapse. Once the triggers are identified, you plan out coping mechanisms to get you through tough moments. Anyone struggling with an addiction or disorder can benefit from a relapse prevention plan; this can include eating disorders, drug or alcohol addictions, or even anger and mood disorders. The plan helps you on your path to success, but it is also a map of how to live a healthier and happier life. Here are five tips to help you write and develop your own relapse prevention plan.
1. List Triggers
This is the most important step in making your plan. List every single thing that could trigger a relapse, including movies, activities, foods, music, boredom, emotions, stress, work, weight, self-esteem, and friends. At any moment, you could get a craving, and being aware of situations that heighten that craving will make it easier to combat it.
2. Find Coping Mechanisms
Most addicts battle emotions with their addictions. It is a war that can’t be won. Learning to cope with life’s emotional ride in a healthy fashion is the only way you will ever truly overcome an addiction. Stress is one emotion I struggle with. I want to run and hide from it, not deal with it! I have learned that tackling my problems head-on with exercise and hard work helps eliminate the stress. For every trigger, list a successful way you can cope with it. When that trigger comes along, you can grab your preventative plan and follow through with your listed coping mechanism.
3. Know Who to Call
There will be moments when you want to give up. These weak moments are when you call your support person. Write down five different people to call. Listing someone close enough to rescue you is important: Phone calls are great, but in your weakest moment, in-person help can get you through it.
4. Strengthen Your Body and Spirit
This is a step that I not only think is important but that I love. Print out several of your favorite inspirational quotes and place them on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, computer, bedroom dresser, and even in your car. Reading quotes will help remind you of what you are doing and why you want to succeed. Write down the things that you are passionate about, physical goals, and life dreams. In this step, you work on you, outside of your addiction. Drugs damage the health of your spirit and body, and you need a plan to get to a healthy place. Becoming a separate being that is no longer dependent on a drug is so important. What goals do you want to accomplish this year? Every single day, work toward your goals, do what you love, and enjoy life. As your happiness and confidence grows, your urges will weaken.
5. Deal with Problems and Feelings Immediately
I am sometimes a procrastinator, and this even applies to my emotions. The moment you feel sad, anxious, or any feeling at all, deal with it – embrace it. Why are you feeling sad, and can the problem be fixed? Don’t wait another day to face it – face it today. If you ignore your emotions, they could grow into something that is too big for you to fight. Get help from a professional, family, and friends the moment you need support.
Keep copies of your preventative plan with you at all times, and create the habit of looking to it for guidance. With the strength of people behind you and a relapse plan in hand, you can make it to your goals.
By Michelle Conway
Photo by: Ruthanne Reid (Flickr)