Becoming free from substance dependence is a wonderful accomplishment! And, if you’ve recently finished outpatient treatment for drug or alcohol misuse, you know that it takes a lot of work to overcome substance problems. Still, you stuck with it and you’ve finally finished the treatment process. Now, you can live a life that allows you to enjoy every moment. You don’t have to depend on alcohol or drugs to get you going in the morning. And you don’t have to use those substances in order to feel “normal”. You can become fully engaged in a life of freedom! Remember, the work is not over yet. You may still run into moments when you feel a little unsure of the future. And there may be times when you need help staying on track. In those times, it’s important to have relapse prevention strategies that can help you to avoid relapse.
What is Relapse?
When people relapse, it means that they return to unhealthy substance use after they’ve worked to overcome it. Some people relapse while in the midst of treatment. Others may relapse after they’ve completed treatment. No matter when it happens, relapse can be a very hard thing to deal with. Most of the time, people don’t mean to relapse. It’s just like when a person first becomes dependent on a substance. Rarely does a person actually intend to do so. But, it happens over time. The same goes for relapse. Sometimes, people get into situations that are hard to avoid. They may find themselves in an environment where they used to drink. This predicament could cause them to return to alcohol use. Just one or two drinks can put people on the relapse path.
There are many other reasons why a person may relapse. But one in particular involves triggers and coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t sure how to cope or deal with triggers like stress or depression. Anxiety can also be hard to handle. For many individuals, the way to deal with these things has been substance use. And, after treatment is over, people may not be sure how to handle those triggers in a healthy way. So, they may turn back to alcohol or drug use in order to deal with the emotional struggles.
One more possible cause of relapse has to do with medication. Some may take prescription meds for things like chronic pain. Because the medication can be so addictive, people may build a tolerance for their prescription. As a result, they may become dependent on it. Even after treatment, the chronic pain will still be there. So, individuals may turn to the use of addictive medications again in an effort to treat the pain. Without the use of relapse prevention strategies, it can be hard to stay on the right track.
Developing Relapse Prevention Strategies
Even after you’ve gone through treatment, you will have to actively work to remain free from drug and alcohol abuse. But relapse prevention strategies can help you to continue on the recovery journey you’ve worked so hard to begin. Here are a few things you can do:
- Ask for help when you need it. You’re not alone on this journey. You can speak to a therapist or loved one when you need a little help staying on track.
- Develop a strong support system. Surround yourself with people who care about your well-being and will encourage you in your road to recovery.
- Avoid atmospheres and events that will tempt you or cause you to struggle.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, and eat healthy meals, and get enough rest.
- Celebrate your success and work to enjoy every moment of your newfound freedom!
If you need help beginning or continuing your recovery journey, just contact us here at Diablo Valley Drug and Alcohol Services. You can give us a call at (925) 289-1430 to learn more about how we can help you.