Relapse prevention appears to be simple and straightforward to someone looking in. Avoid the things that make you upset and you’ll be fine. If only it could be this easy!
In reality, preventing relapse after opiate rehab in Prescott takes a lot of work. The reward pathways in your brain have been hijacked, elevating your stress levels and reactivity. You’re also new to recovery, which means you’re still getting comfortable applying your coping strategies and avoiding drugs and alcohol.
It’s important to know that relapse does not come out of nowhere. It happens in a series of predictable stages, which you can detect if you know what to look for and are intune with your feelings and emotions.
Fortunately, you are not thrown into the real world on your own. Wolf Creek Recovery’s Phase Two program works closely with clients to help them transition to everyday life while practicing cognitive and behavioral skills. You’ll be encouraged to move at a pace that’s comfortable for you.
Let’s explore the most effective relapse prevention techniques that will support a healthy recovery.
Identify Your Triggers
You’ve probably heard this a lot – identify your triggers. But, it’s one of the most important things you can do. If you don’t know your triggers, you can’t protect yourself from them. This is why it’s important to be honest about your feelings and emotions so that you can identify your motivations for using opiate drugs.
The most common addiction relapse triggers are:
You may turn to opiates to cope with stress, as these substances can provide temporary relief. However, this is an unhealthy response to stress, just like overeating or biting your nails. The better approach is to use stress reduction strategies like deep breathing, guided imagery and mindfulness meditation.
When recovering from an opiate addiction, it’s important to keep these substances out of reach. Accessibility makes it easy to relapse. It’s recommended to keep drugs and alcohol out of the home and prescription medications locked up.
Revisiting negative connections
Being around people and places that remind you of your past opiate use can also be a powerful trigger. Even if the substance isn’t present, the memories can cause you to fantasize about the past, kicking off the relapse process.
Connection is incredibly important in recovery. The key is to make healthy connections with positive people. Avoid isolating yourself, as this can trap you in your own head, causing you to lose motivation and turn towards opiates.
A structured, consistent schedule keeps you busy and fills the gaps that used to be filled by addiction. Engage in healthy activities to prevent boredom, such as taking walks, doing crossword puzzles or picking up a new hobby.
Major life transition
Anything new and major in your life can put you at risk for relapse due to the stress involved. In fact, it’s recommended not to start dating for at least one year after opiate rehab in Prescott. Of course, you can’t stop all major life events from happening. If you need to change jobs, move out of state or say goodbye to a loved one, make sure you have healthy ways to cope. Otherwise, drugs and alcohol will be the all-too-familiar coping tool.
Develop Coping Skills
It’s important to know how to cope with stress, as stress is a normal part of life. Fortunately, a large part of opiate rehab in Prescott is learning healthy ways to cope. As you apply these coping skills in your everyday life, you’ll get more comfortable using them. Be open to trying new things, as you never know what’s going to work for you!
Some of the most effective ways to cope with stress and other uncomfortable emotions are by:
- Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques. These evidence-based practices can help you see through your problems and address them more effectively. Mindfulness coping skills include deep breathing, meditation and yoga.
- Keeping busy. Don’t let boredom get in the way of your goals. Keep busy by starting a new hobby, learning a new language or getting creative through art or music.
- Exercising and nutrition. By staying active, you release feel-good endorphins in the brain, relieving stress and boosting your mood.
- Journaling and practicing gratitude. Seeing your thoughts on paper can help you manage your emotions more effectively. Also, gratitude keeps you grounded and reminds you of why you chose sobriety.
- Connecting with others. 12-step meetings, support groups and online communities can help you feel less alone and more connected to others.
- Waiting to respond. Responding too quickly can cause negative reactions to stress. Give yourself time to think things over so that you can make rational and informed decisions.
Build a Support Network
Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family and support groups. Having people who understand your struggles will help you feel less alone. These people can also hold you accountable and provide encouragement, which are invaluable in preventing relapse.
Below are some tips for building a support network that will motivate you to stay sober and help you sustain long-term recovery.
- Volunteer. Pick a cause that’s important to you. This way, you’ll be meeting people who share similar interests and values as you. Plus, volunteering gives you the gratification of taking action and helping others.
- Try a new sport or activity. Another way to meet people is by taking up a sport or hobby. This is good for your psychological and physiological health, and it gives you the opportunity to make new friends.
- Join a support group. Support groups are a safe and nonjudgmental space where you can share your feelings and ease your emotional burden. You can also gain valuable insight into how others deal with similar challenges.
Avoid High-Risk Situations
Stay away from people, places and/or situations that may trigger cravings or the temptation to use. Being proactive is key. Think ahead and consider how a specific person or place could make you feel. If you know that you’re going to feel triggered, it’s best to avoid the situation, at least until you are stronger in your recovery.
Also keep in mind that everyone is different. Some people go through a honeymoon period shortly after opiate rehab in Prescott and believe they can stay sober in high-risk situations. Others get complacent and end up putting themselves in uncomfortable situations. And, others go the opposite direction, avoiding any type of risk, and therefore, growth. Be honest with yourself and make decisions proactively – not reactively.
HALT: Take Inventory of Your Needs
HALT is an acronym for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of assessing these symptoms, as they can cause you to crave substances. For example, being hungry or thirsty can be confused for a drug craving, while being tired can make you irritable and less able to tolerate stress.
When you feel ‘off’, take inventory of your needs. If you are lacking in anything, take the appropriate steps to fix the deficit. Nourish your body with healthy foods (hungry), practice deep breathing (angry), spend time with loved ones or attend a meeting (lonely) and get restful sleep (tired).
By tending to your physical needs, you build resilience and make it easier to sustain sobriety.
Self-care is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It includes anything you do to keep yourself healthy. Even though self-care seems like common sense, it’s often the first thing we give up when we’re faced with stressful situations. Make sure that you prioritize self-care so that you can get back to a healthy place.
Each self-care plan is unique, as it’s based on the individual’s needs. To create your self-care plan, take the following areas into account:
- Physical needs. Eat regular, healthy meals, exercise most days of the week and get restful sleep. A strong body equals a strong mind!
- Emotional needs. Engage in positive activities, express emotions in a healthy way and avoid letting things bottle up inside you.
- Spiritual health. Read inspirational books, spend time in nature and meditate.
- Professional needs. Pursue meaningful work, maintain a healthy work-life balance and practice good time management skills.
- Social needs. Build healthy relationships, make time for friends/family and ask for support when you need it.
- Financial plan. Recognize how your finances impact your life, create a budget and work on paying down debt.
- Psychological needs. Take time for yourself, take breaks from electronics and learn new skills.
Practice Grounding Techniques
Stress and anxiety are often the biggest obstacles to sobriety. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it’s natural to want to reach for opiates to calm you down. However, now that you are sober, you must turn to other coping mechanisms. This is where grounding techniques come into play.
Grounding techniques are helpful in relapse prevention, as they force you to focus on the moment and avoid thoughts related to alcohol or drugs. They also prevent you from overthinking, negative self-talk and other unhealthy thoughts or feelings that can lead to relapse.
One of the best grounding techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. It can be practiced by acknowledging:
- Five things you see around you.
- Four things you can touch around you.
- Three things you can hear around you.
- Two things you can smell around you.
- One thing you can taste around you.
When you’ve gone through these five steps, take a deep breath. The goal is to calm yourself down, focus on the present and feel more in control of your surroundings.
Play the Tape Through
If you find yourself thinking about getting high on opiates, a great tool to put into practice is ‘playing out the tape.’ What this means is that you think through what would happen if you did take an opiate.
How would your loved ones feel about it? Would you lose the growth you’ve made? What happens if you overdose? Would you have to go back into treatment?
Playing the tape through stops you from fantasizing about opiates and reminds you how this one decision will impact your short- and long-term future. Compare this to staying sober and see what outcome you want for your life.
Seek Professional Support
Relapse happens in stages: emotional, mental and physical. This is important to know, as most people don’t just pick up drugs or alcohol one day. There are a series of things that happen that lead to this point. This is why it’s helpful to recognize when things don’t feel right.
Furthermore, if you start experiencing the emotional and mental signs of relapse, it means that you need more support. You may benefit from additional time in therapy, further changes to your living arrangements or lifestyle or more time in outpatient opiate rehab in Prescott. By getting the appropriate support, you can set a healthier foundation for recovery.
Engage in Mindfulness and Self-Awareness
Mindfulness meditation teaches people how to become more self-aware. When you’re more self-aware, you’re better able to cope with potential triggers to relapse. In fact, one study found that individuals in recovery who practice mindfulness meditation have a significant improvement in relapse prevention.
Using mindfulness meditation, individuals are taught how to ‘roll through’ their cravings rather than fight them. Accepting the craving is different from giving into it, and eventually, you’ll be able to use this skill to move through the craving and come out stronger. Some of the best ways to practice mindfulness meditation are by paying attention to your senses (similar to the grounding technique), focusing on your breathing, living in the moment and accepting what is.
Opiate Rehab in Prescott: A Full Continuum of Care
Many of the team members at Wolf Creek Recovery are in recovery, and we know how important the first few weeks and months of sobriety are. It’s normal to experience cravings and temptation, but you need to hold yourself accountable and make healthy decisions that keep you on the path to sobriety.
To ensure our clients have the tools and skills necessary to stay sober, we have a Phase One, Phase Two and Extended Care program that follows them through their journey – a true continuum of care. Learn more today by contacting Wolf Creek Recovery at 833-732-8202.