As a recovering alcoholic, there’s more to relapsing than just succumbing to your addiction and picking up a drink.
Relapse happens in stages. It starts with an emotional relapse, which is often characterized by cravings for alcohol. It progresses to mental relapse, which often involves minimizing the consequences of why you should drink again. The third stage is physical relapse, which means giving in and having a drink.
Relapse is a common occurrence, but there are some things you can do before you even hit that first stage that can help you avoid it.
If you’re working hard to abstain from alcohol, here are seven things you can do to avoid a relapse.
Hang Out with Different People in Different Places
Meeting up with your former drinking buddies at your favorite bar can be a recipe for disaster.
When recovering from alcohol or any type of substance abuse, it helps to keep your distance from people, places, and things that could cause you to relapse. While it might be difficult to avoid all the relationships and situations that you used to enjoy, it’s an effective tool in maintaining sobriety.
Keep in mind that it’s important to replace the friends you distance yourself from with new ones — ideally, sober ones. Sober friends, including those that have gone through their own recovery process, can help prevent you from relapsing and hold you accountable if you do.
Checkout this article to learn more about the importance of making sober friends.
Surround Yourself With a Support System
Along with sober friends, surround yourself with a strong support system of family, coworkers, other people that have recovered successfully, and/or medical professionals.
If you’re thinking about relapsing, talk it out with the people that support you. Holding in your feelings can make recovery more challenging, so don’t be afraid to lean on the people you trust when need be.
Purse New Hobbies and Interests
Replacing the old habit of drinking with new hobbies or interests is an excellent tool in maintaining sobriety.
From learning how to cook to taking up gardening to volunteering at a local animal shelter, there are endless hobbies and healthy habits that you can adopt that will fill your time. The busier you are, the less time you’ll spend thinking about relapsing.
Find Ways to Relax
Cravings may happen, and a simple and effective way to suppress them is to relax.
Deep breathing, meditating, reading, taking a warm bath … there are all sorts of ways to relax both the brain and body. Just be mindful of your decisions and make sure that your preferred method of relaxation is a healthy choice.
With recreational marijuana now legal in so many U.S. states, recovering alcoholics sometimes turn to cannabis as a way to relax. But the “California sober” lifestyle of abstaining from alcohol while consuming marijuana does not work for everyone.
If your goal is to live a 100% sober lifestyle, semi-sobriety with marijuana use is the wrong choice. If you do choose to use cannabis to relax, consider using CBD products as opposed to THC products, as THC is what creates the “high” feeling. Checkout this article to learn more about how THC affects the brain.
Practice Positive Self Talk
When negative thoughts creep in, practice positive self-talk. Whether you quit drinking on your own or with the help of AA or a long-term treatment center, remind yourself of what you accomplished and be proud of yourself for doing so. Speaking it aloud can be helpful and give you the boost of confidence you need to stay strong and stay sober.
Make a List of Positive Things You Gained Since You Stopped Drinking
One way to avoid a relapse is to remind yourself of all the positive things that have happened since you stopped drinking.
Maybe you got a new job, or got into a new, healthy relationship, or got down to a healthy weight. Let the good things that have happened since quitting inspire you to want to make more achievements and stay sober.
Seek Additional Treatment
Relapses often occur because people don’t address the underlying issues that caused them to drink in the first place. Seeking additional treatment with a therapist or a recovery specialist can help you identify those underlying issues and put a plan in place to work through them.
Anyone that has ever suffered with alcoholism is subject to relapse, but you can put measures in place to help prevent it.
If you’re suffering with alcohol or substance abuse, there are resources available. No matter where you are in your recovery, always know that help is out there and that you aren’t alone.