Sobriety is a lifelong struggle for most, and it requires a lot of strength to avoid relapse. One thing you can do to prevent relapse is to identify situations in your life that might compromise your sobriety, and then figure out what you can do to avoid relapse in those situations.
You cannot completely avoid situations where your sobriety is at risk, this is a fact. What you can do however is to develop a strong foundation in sobriety and utilize the coping skills you have learned to get through these times and avoid situations that may compromise your sobriety. Certain situations, people, places or even things like sounds can create a strong desire or stir up painful emotions which may compel you to use substances again. But before this happens, it is important that you know your triggers and high-risk situations.
A high-risk situations can be situational, emotional or interpersonal. How you react in these situations will determine what you need to do to cope. Here are the types of high-risk situations that may :
- Positive emotional states – you may wonder how something positive can turn into something as high-risk? This is because “too much” of everything good can also let a recovering addict’s guard down. Overconfidence is something that you should watch out for as this could compromise your sobriety and trigger relapse.
- Negative feelings – stress, anxiety, anger, desperation, sadness and other extreme negative feelings are among the many emotions that you will encounter during your recovery. These feelings can stir up the desire to use again. If these emotions linger for a long time and are not properly addressed, there is a tendency for someone who is in recovery to relapse.
- Peer pressure – Peer pressure and the desire to fit in causes many individuals to give in to substance abuse. No one wants to feel left out, which makes them susceptible to going along with things, even if it poses a risk to themselves and others. If everyone else is doing it around them, they feel less judged and safer to abuse substances. When substance abuse is normalized, it doesn’t feel like “abuse” anymore. Not only is substance abuse normalized these days, it can even be encouraged.
- Interpersonal conflicts – these situations include arguments among spouses or loved ones can lead to a situation where you may compromise your sobriety. Financial or marital problems usually spark up conflicts and other negative emotions that will trigger your drug and alcohol use. Avoid situations like this if you can.
Tips on How You Can Avoid Compromising Situations
As we have noted, there’s no way to completely avoid uncomfortable situations, but there are things that you can do to protect your sobriety. Follow these tips so you can avoid triggers and relapse into drug/alcohol use all over again:
- Stay away from risky situations – this is the first and most important thing you should do and although you cannot always avoid risk, it’s good to be cautious. The moment you feel like you’re threatened or tempted into using drugs or alcohol, remove yourself from the situation as fast as you can.
- Avoid watching negative news and shows on TV or social media – according to studies, about 60% of recovering addicts fall into relapse because of the things they see on television or movies which can play a major role in setting off relapses. It was also found that cues in the movies, news, TV and even the accompanying music can evoke thoughts of substance use. There are also subliminal messages that may trigger cravings or sometimes recall something that would remind them of their drug and alcohol abuse. In general, it is a good idea to limit your exposure to screens and sensationalized media, as it can be detrimental to your mental health.
- Establish a routine and stick with it – A routine is a sequence of actions that one follows regularly. This can look like a daily or weekly “to-do” list or a calendar of regularly scheduled events. For people in recovery, this is extremely important for them to live a successful sober life. For anyone coming into the sober life, sobriety may be overwhelming at first because there is nothing there to make them feel inebriated. Former addicts will have a hard time living a life without a chemical refuge when they need it; they now have to face hardships without any sort of substance to save them. What these people need is a little order in this seemingly chaotic life and a routine could bring that order into their lives.
- Find a good mentor – having a mentor — this could be a sponsor, therapist, etc — is really helpful for recovering addicts. Your mentor can help hold you accountable for your sobriety. A trusted mentor, sponsor or therapist can help guide you as you are working on your sobriety and will serve as your go-to person in case you find yourself in unavoidable risky situations. Make sure to continue seeing a therapist if you can so they also have a record of your activities and improvement as you stay sober.
- Create a list of goals that you would like to accomplish – a good way to stay sober is to keep track of your progress. Setting up a list of goals to pursue is a sure way to keep you motivated and on the right track. Write down your short-term and long-term goals and the dates you want to have them accomplished by. In addition, make a plan of action for how you are going to accomplish these goals. As you achieve these goals, mark them off on your list, as this will give you a sense of accomplishment and serve as a visual representation of how far you’ve come. Not only are you helping yourself to become better, you are also focused on your goals and not on addiction.
- Ask help from your loved ones – having people who you are close to that you can lean on is invaluable for your recovery. You have someone who can sway you away from all the negative emotions and situations that could make you relapse. Staying sober should be your focus and it is important that your partner understands and supports that and so working out a plan together will be helpful in your recovery. If needed, you can attend a couple’s therapy so your partner can understand your situation better. This can also help them help you get through tough times.
- Learn to relax – tension and stress can lead to relapse. That is why it is best that you give yourself time and space to relax. Do meditations, spend a day at the spa, exercise and eat well. Keep in mind that different strategies work for different people. So you have to figure out what makes you stressed and how to deal with it. Learning how to relax and applying relaxing techniques can also help you get out of a sticky situation bound for a relapse.
You cannot avoid situations that may compromise your sobriety but you can always find ways to redirect your focus and work on it. Staying sober is not an easy road but you can always find ways to stay on the right path.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.