The topic of relapse can be a touchy one. While some may state that “relapse is part of recovery”, others claim that it does not have to be, nor should it. But the bottom line is relapsing is a life-threatening event, whether it has happened before or not. Drug addicts and alcoholics have the underlying problem of the lack of control, not knowing when to stop, which can ultimately lead to death. Being able to identify how to avoid a relapse and what may trigger is key to anyone’s recovery.
For myself, I only ever attempted to get sober one time (this time), but I hear about relapse often and the majority of peers in community do have experience with it. I was lucky enough to be in a situation where I learned enough about myself to know that going back out is not an option for me if I want to live a happy and successful life. So I have to keep constant reminders and a feeling of gratitude about my daily life in order to remember where I came from and, where I am going. The following is a list of things I do in my own personal program in order to live in gratitude and how I avoid a relapse.
Go to Meetings
I wanted to start with this one simply because it is the foundation for everything that follows. Growing a community, getting phone numbers, learning about events to go to, and making friends all starts with going to meetings. I went to a meeting almost every day in my first year of sobriety, and as a result I have a wealth of friends who all have the same goals as myself, not the least of which is staying sober.
Avoid Old Haunts
Anyone in recovery will tell you, and it’s easy to see, going to the places where you used to drink or use is never a particularly good idea. Plus, if you are indeed trying to get sober, there really shouldn’t be a reason for you to be there anyway.
Keep Old Friends at Arms-length
I’m not saying get rid of your old friends. Though some people may advocate that idea, realize they want only the best for you and want to see you really achieve sobriety. With some time under your belt, it becomes much easier to identify which friends really want the best for you and those who just want something from you. There is a reason the saying “Want to know who your real friends are? Get sober.” gets thrown around. By the time you really absorb this lifestyle you may realize you have less in common with them than you think.
If you really want to stay sober, changing up absolutely everything you do is mandatory. If you keep doing the same things you used to do attempting to ‘just not drink or use’ then you are doomed for a relapse. Attending sober events, parties, get-togethers and conventions are just some of the many things you can do to fill that free time you used to spend at the bar or club.
Be Vocal About Your Sobriety
Keeping the fact that you are trying to be sober a secret is never a good idea. Most people, people with your best intentions at heart, will support your decision to change your life. Getting sober is nothing to be ashamed of. If you want true sobriety, embrace it, don’t hide it. This will allow your friends and family to better help you, anyway.
Setting goals for yourself, big or small, is at the heart of everything you do while sober. Get back to school, find a new career path, or even just make it a point to help someone every day. You set a goal for yourself to get sober at some point, didn’t you? Well keep going!
Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude
All of these practical suggestions are well and good, but what they do when combined ultimately leads to a feeling of gratitude. What I mean by this, is that by becoming involved and active in my own sobriety, it not only gives me things like self-esteem and being able to be comfortable in my own skin, but it helps remind me why I am sober in the first place.
I have to remember actively where I came from and why I left my old lifestyle to begin with. Armed with a few simple facts about myself, I know that relapse and going back to using will ultimately result in losing everything that I have come to hold near and dear to me, which helps keep me motivated to move forward. What else do you do to stay sober and avoid relapse?