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Protecting Yourself from Relapse

After spending all of that effort in treatment, the last thing you want now is to relapse. But that is so much easier said than done. If you have used substances for any length of time, it can be very difficult to maintain sobriety. There are going to be times of stress, old friends who invite you to join them, powerful cravings, and other people, places, and things that trigger you. The best way to prevent a relapse is to be proactive and put plans in place that will prevent you from a relapse.

More than Just Sober

If you have done all of the work to be clean, then you want to be more than just sober, you want a full recovery. That means that you are not only abstaining from drugs and alcohol; you have also made wholesale changes in your life to heal and be mentally, physically, and spiritually well. This is so much more than sober.

By making all of the changes in your life, including processing in therapy, changing the way you think and manage your emotions, building new habits of self-care, and so much more, you have shown that you are committed to your recovery. You can continue to build upon all of your hard work and fortify yourself against relapse.

Planning to Succeed

Recovery doesn’t just happen, you need a plan to succeed and stay well. In treatment, you identified some of the reasons that led you to use substances. In therapy, you processed those things, and you learned new skills to help you stay healthy, going forward. 

But there are also plenty of things on the surface that might trigger you to use substances again, including people, places, sights, smells, activities and more that remind you of when you previously used substances. Your plans for success should involve avoiding as many of those potential triggers as possible. The best way to do this is to find new people, places, and things that will keep you occupied instead of letting these “ghosts” of your past haunt you.

You can also build a support system of people in your life who will help you. This could include parents, friends, teachers, neighbors, coaches, people from church, or other activities – all people who are invested in you and your recovery and want to help you succeed. These people should all be on speed dial on your phone, available to you in your time of need. Reach out to them often and keep those relationships strong.

Watching Out for You

In addition to physical triggers in your life, emotional triggers are incredibly powerful, as are cravings. You can prepare for these with the skills you learned in therapy, and by practicing mindfulness in both meditation and perhaps yoga. This will strengthen your mind against these internal triggers so that you have the strength to get through them.

You also have to watch out for yourself if you start slipping in your routines and self-care. For example, if you start missing therapy visits, doctor appointments, prescription medication doses, stop exercising, or other important habits that help you to stay mentally healthy, then these are warning signs of a potential relapse. 

Even just reminiscing about the friends and times when you were using substances, or romanticizing substance use in your thoughts or words. Even short periods around people or places that were part of our substance use are big warnings that you could be about to relapse. You tend to become your thoughts, so even thinking about your past is very dangerous. You have to be 100 percent vigilant about all of your emotions, thoughts, and habits. You are the only one who has control over this part of your recovery, and it is the most important area to prevent relapse.

The Power of Friends

Friends who let friends use substances are not friends. As painful as it can be to tear yourself away from those who shared your substance use, it is far more painful to relapse, and to face all of the potential outcomes of continued substance use. Now, more than ever, you need to surround yourself with friends who completely support your recovery and who are not going to allow you to relapse. These are people who love you, who always have your back, and who want the best for you. 

Sometimes, true friends are hard to come by. But as you heal and look around, you will find them. There are other people who are just like you, and there are other people who will support you to the end of the world in your recovery. The power of friends is real. You know what you got by hanging out with those people who used substances with you. Now it is time to find out what real friends are. Their love is not dependent on you supporting their dependence on substances. True friends love you for who you are. Clean. Sober. And Wonderful.

You have everything you need to prevent a relapse inside of you. Like a superhero accessing their superpower, you can protect your recovery and prevent your relapse every single day—your recovery matters. Do everything in your power to protect it. Today, tomorrow, and every day.

Being proactive can help you prevent relapse. Call Embark Behavioral Health 1-855-809-0409 if you need more support. Stay strong and stay well.

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.