When attempting recovery, an addict faces many challenges, some of which are more difficult than others. Anxiety, loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, loss of using friends, having no idea what to do in times when you used to drink, all may hit at once. This is especially hard if an addict is not prepared and has no support system.
Relapse is considered to be a very common and, to its most extent, enormously difficult recovery challenge to face. The most common reaction of an addict to relapse, unfortunately, is self-blame and partial or complete loss of faith in the possibility of personal recovery. Not everyone understands that one of the founding stones of an addiction is a very strong temptation to use this or that substance, making it really hard for the recovering addict to not give in to the lapses of it.
So, what can the addict do in order not to give in to the re-occurring substance abuse temptation?
1. Understand that Relapse is NOT a Failure
You do not have to right away perceive it as the ultimate failure, if it happens so that you relapse. It is partially temptation and partially the fear of the unknown that will try to make you stick to the thought of not being capable or worthy of recovery. If you did attempt to stay clean and sober before, even for short time, you can do it again. So, do not isolate yourself from others, but rather seek help and support. Try another recovery program, make yourself go to an AA meeting. Begin working your recovery program again. Do not try to hide from your temptation and the fact of relapse, but rather try to accept and analyze it, so that next time you can be successful and learn from your own mistakes.
2. Expand Your Support Network
Often, your temptation to use stays or grows, even after recovery attempts, because you are afraid of losing so called “using buddies” who became your family in a way. In this case, the best suggestion would be the replacement of those with your family members who give you love and care, as well as seeking sober friends who are willing to assist you in your recovery.
“Surround yourself with positive people who do not engage in substance use and who are supportive of your substance-free lifestyle. It is important to have healthy people who will be able to support you in your times of need” (Donna M. White, LPCI, CACP)
3. Stay Away from Temptation Triggers
It goes without saying that you have to do your best to refrain from going to the pubs or any other place that you associate with your addiction. The same can be said for the people who used to be involved in substance abuse with you.
Instead, you should look for sober alternatives which correlate with your healthy hobbies and preferences. Those can vary from healthy food restaurants to outdoor activities like picnic, Frisbee, different kinds of sports, gyms, etc. Being physically active reinforces the supply of endorphin in your body, which works sort of like a “natural high.” Moreover, new engagement can bring new acquaintances with the same healthy preferences into your life.
“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities - to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.” - Klaus Schwab