Without a doubt, getting clean and sober is hard work. Just admitting you have a problem is hard enough. But taking those next steps—the going to rehab, the fighting the cravings and withdrawal, the dealing with family and friends and the messes that need to be cleaned up—-are all major challenges too. And they can pile up all at once when we are at our most vulnerable. Part of recovery is recognizing and steering clear of certain emotions and feelings that will surely creep up and try to knock us right back into relapse.
Whether it’s about work, money woes, relationship issues, or legal troubles, we all have times when we experience stress and need to work harder to maintain our recovery. Being sober and in recovery can be so full of awesome, but the stress of our daily lives will still be there. Stress can be overwhelming and it is one of the biggest reasons we might say “ah, F*** it” and head for the vodka aisle or nearest corner for supply. Learning to manage our stress in productive ways can guard it from causing us to head back out. You’ve heard all this before maybe, but there is great wisdom in using some of these simple means of stress-reduction: Exercising regularly. Yes, a brisk walk of the dog counts as does walking to your meeting. It can’t be that far, can it? Sleeping well is crucial, but hard for many. Are ALL lights off and the TV? Eating a healthy diet means trading mind deadening foods loaded with sugar and fats, etc. for stuff that’s not. Would it kill you to carry some carrots as you walk to your meeting? And yes, meditation works. There are dozens of meditations online. Try one. As always, pick up the phone. When stress starts becoming a potential trigger reach out to friend, family, lover, sponsor. That’s what they’re there for.
Being tired and cranky leaves us feeling emotional and more susceptible to a relapse. When we’re tired, we become like bitchy little kids—snappy, irritable and unreasonable. This is the perfect set of emotions that can lead to us blowing our serenity and reaching for our old coping strategies. Those involved drinking and using, in case you forgot, and they didn’t work, in case you forgot. This is why the importance of getting a regular night’s sleep cannot be overemphasized. Maintaining our equilibrium and functioning in a calm and thoughtful manner is pivotal when it comes to staying sober. If you find it difficult to sleep, try breathing exercises, a hot bath or a warm, milky drink before bed. If nothing seems to help, speak to your doctor.
It’s one of the most common feelings that can lead to a relapse in early recovery. Once we are over the “pink cloud” of our initial achievement, we often struggle to find activities that fill the huge amount of time we used drinking and using. Now that we are no longer doing that, the amount of drama in our lives is vastly reduced. This is when boredom can set in. Finding new activities that don’t involve the old friends, the old corners and the old bars is super important. This can be anything, including sports, exercise, reading, a new hobby, binge watching good TV, or just working on the house. Find something that will distract you and take your mind off the urge to use. Remember, there must be dozens of things you loved doing before you got deep into your addiction. Go back to that stuff. Oh, and you seem to have more money for fun stuff than you used to have,, right? Because you’re not blowing it all on booze and drugs!
This is one for those with longer sobriety. Complacency is a very dangerous thing. It can make us feel as though we’ve already made it to the top and cannot be brought back down. Truth is, it is also a time of high vulnerability to relapse. In some ways, time can be our enemy here. The farther away we get from our rock bottom, the more likely we are to start minimizing and forgetting just how bad it was. We stop going to meetings or put ourselves in situations we wouldn’t have dared earlier in recovery. It is crucial here that we remain vigilant, keep in touch with our support peeps, keep going to meetings, and always we remember our triggers.
We tend to assume that it is the negative emotions that are more likely to lead to a slip up, but it can also be the more positive ones that can trigger a return to old habits. One of the most common of the positive emotions that can bring one to a relapse is overconfidence. Believing in yourself is definitely a plus, and is something to be encouraged. But when self-confidence tips into being a little too much, trouble can arrive in the form of a relapse. It might be a good idea to have a sponsor or buddy check out your confidence meter and if it’s getting high, get yourself knocked down a peg or two. It’s definitely for your own good.
For as long as you remain aware of the most common causes of a relapse, you’ll be able to successfully guard your sobriety. It pays to always remember that when it comes to staying clean, your abstinence is dependent on your continued vigilance. Remember, most people drink or use based on their emotions. Whether they’re sad, happy, anxious or depressed, the common emotional landscape of everyone’s life can be a cause of vulnerability for the recovering addict.
From Your Friends at: www.commonbondrehabcenter.com and wwwjust4usgirls.net Santa Clarita, CA