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Planning Ahead to Prevent Relapse

The addiction recovery process can be an arduous one to say the least, full of ups and downs, unexpected challenges, and obstacles we don’t feel equipped to handle. One of the best ways we can help ourselves prepare for recovery is to plan ahead in order to prevent ourselves from relapsing. We don’t want to leave everything for the last minute, when we’re leaving treatment, when we’re full of all the mixed emotions of newfound sobriety – the excitement and optimism, the fear, self-doubt and uncertainty. We want to commit time and energy to planning ahead so that we can take full advantage of everything we’ve learned thus far in recovery and use it to help ourselves offset the chances of relapsing.

Many of us have already experienced the pain of relapse. We’ve grown quite familiar over the years with the disappointment, the feelings of defeat, the heartache. We know all too well the regret, remorse, embarrassment and shame. We want to prevent ourselves from having to experience these all over again in never-ending cycles of self-destructiveness and self-sabotage. We want to be as prepared as possible, mentally, emotionally and logistically, to handle the possibility of relapse. We want to be able to move through our recovery with confidence and feel empowered as we’re working to heal ourselves.

An important part of preventing relapse is figuring out what we’ll do whenever an addictive urge or overwhelming emotion hits us. For so much of our lives, we’ve automatically given into our addictive patterns any time we felt tempted. We’ve always turned to our drugs of choice to cope with the difficult thoughts and feelings we didn’t feel able to face. Now that we’re working towards sobriety, we’ll need to find replacement coping skills that keep us in alignment with our goals and don’t set us back. We might decide to call our sponsor any time we’re feeling tempted to use, if we’re feeling depressed or anxious, or if we feel afraid we might relapse. We might make a plan to attend support group meetings regularly and increase the number of meetings we go to whenever we’re feeling particularly vulnerable. We might have a friend in recovery who we keep in contact with and give regular updates to, who we can reach out to when we’re feeling confused, overwhelmed or scared. Our treatment center might have continuing education, after-care programs and relapse prevention services we can benefit from after leaving our program. We want to make sure we’re taking full advantage of all the resources available to us and giving ourselves the support we need to stay on track with our recovery goals.

An important part of preventing relapse is surrounding ourselves with people who understand our struggles and who can relate to us and empathize with us. We fall into patterns of isolating ourselves, and this can be particularly detrimental for us when we’re in recovery. We can plan ahead to spend time with loved ones, to check in regularly with people, and to find activities we enjoy that get us out of the house and interacting with people again. We can make a conscious effort to engage with the outside world when for so long we’ve been hiding away, too afraid to face our addictions and too ashamed to speak our truth. A huge part of staying sober is learning how to make connections that will support us and bolster our progress as we move forward. When we isolate too much, we run the risk of worsening our depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. If we continue not to be around other people and receive their love and support, we might find ourselves tempted to relapse just to cope with the feelings of loneliness and disconnection we’re experiencing.

A huge part of relapse prevention is seeking the sense of fulfillment that has eluded us for so long. Our addictions have become our main priority over the years. They have depleted us of our energy, hope and motivation. We’ve given our lives to them and let ourselves be overtaken and overpowered by them. Now that we’re in recovery, we want to rediscover who we are beyond our addictions. We want to explore what we love about ourselves and about life, what gifts and strengths we’ve been neglecting, and what things bring us a sense of meaning and purpose. When we commit time and energy to these things, we automatically feel happier, more satisfied and more at peace. We feel a sense of gratitude. We feel hopeful. We’re seeing firsthand the powers we have for self-actualization and self-empowerment. All of these feelings are crucial to our success in recovery, because it was often our lack of fulfillment and self-worth that were helping fuel our addictions in the first place.

Sometimes we relapse because we haven’t developed the coping skills we need to handle the very tough challenges that come with sobriety. Sometimes it’s simply because we’ve left ourselves open to the possibility for relapse because we haven’t planned ahead and made sure we were as fully prepared as possible. We can bolster our chances for success when we realize that relapse might be common, but it’s not inevitable. We’re stronger and more capable than we tend to think we are. We can develop helpful strategies and coping skills to strengthen and empower ourselves as we tackle the hard work of recovery and keep ourselves in alignment with our sobriety.

At The Guest House Ocala, we have personal recovery experience and over 12 years in the recovery industry. We have helped countless people recover, and we’re here to help you too. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.