Life outside of a rehab center is very different from following recovery as an in-patient. Staying at a Dallas drug rehab or similar facility affords you a controlled environment, where stressful situations and access to substances are greatly reduced. Real life is full of many challenges to your recovery, and it is normal to feel the urge to go back to substance abuse as a way of coping with these situations. It’s important to fight back on these urges and maintain your sobriety, and it helps to have a plan for what to do when you feel your resolve waning.
Remove the Triggers
If you still have paraphernalia or keep alcohol at home, seeing these objects can be addiction triggers. Even posters and clothing that suggest the use of substances can affect how you think about them, so it’s a good idea to remove all these things from your life. Depending on the water treatment practices where you live, you may be able to safely empty opened liquor bottles down the drain. Unopened bottles may be offered to friends with the express understanding that they should not offer you alcohol when you visit their homes. Contact a hospital or pharmacy about disposing needles and syringes as these can pose danger to others, and depending on the type of material used, other drug paraphernalia might be recycled or simply thrown out with the trash.
Leave the Situation
Apart from physical triggers, it’s a good idea to remove bad influences from your life as well. Refrain from socializing with people who don’t support your recovery and desire to stay clean. This can apply both to people who have active addictions as well as people who insist that you “just have a tiny bit to drink.”
Some people may opt to not attend social events where alcohol will be served, but consider that this could mean missing out on important life events. If you wish to attend but aren’t sure if you can resist drinking, consider asking a trusted friend or family member to be your accountability buddy during the event.
Use Grounding Techniques
Feeling stressed or anxious may cause you to have a strong, almost uncontrollable urge to drink alcohol or use drugs again, especially if you have previously used these substances to cope with negative emotions. When this happens, recall the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to take your focus off the urges and the stress that they cause. Make your breathing deep and deliberate then name the following: five things in your immediate environment, four things you reach with your hands, three things that are making a sound, two things that you can smell, and one thing that you can taste.
It also helps to a HALT evaluation of how you are feeling. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, as these states can heighten any negative emotions. Addressing these feelings can help to quell the urge to use substances.
Contact a Trusted Friend or Sober Companion
Staying sober can be difficult, but you don’t have to handle the challenges alone. If you are struggling, talk to a trusted friend or relative. They can provide valuable emotional support and help you navigate social situations that you may find triggering.
One of the benefits of going to rehab is that you develop a network of people who support your efforts at recovery or may be in recovery themselves. They may be able to provide practical advice and share their own challenges. Some sobriety groups hold regular meetings that can connect you to a community or even assign you to have a sponsor or sober companion who can check up on you on a regular basis.
Is It a Slip or Relapse?
Some people may find the term “relapse” to be excessive when referring to a one-time, unplanned usage of drugs or alcohol. After all, human beings are prone to making mistakes, and it is not uncommon for people in recovery to find themselves in this situation. “Slip” and “relapse” may be used interchangeably in these discussions and depending on how an individual wishes to call it, but there is a distinct difference in the intention behind the action.
To better determine if substance use is a “slip” and a “relapse,” addiction professionals assess the individual’s overall behavior. An individual committed to their recovery will acknowledge the error and return to routines that support their sobriety. Meanwhile, an individual may be considered to have relapsed if they continue their substance usage and stop participating in activities that support their recovery.
Recovery is an ongoing process, and you have to actively choose it every day. If you want to maintain your sobriety, it can be helpful to review these tips daily so that they stay top of mind, and you are always ready for life’s challenges.