Recovery is a life-long process that can become a bit easier over time. However, it is important for anyone in recovery to have a tangible relapse-prevention plan to turn to in the event that cravings strike or triggers crop up. A plan can be an invaluable resource that can help get you through stressful times and that may help you prevent relapse in the future.
Create your relapse plan in a journal or notebook and keep it close by. Consider these suggestions for things to include in your relapse-prevention plan.
Strengths. Identify all of your strengths, such as qualities, characteristics, and traits that you have. This is not the time to be modest!
Informal resources. This is a list of your friends, family members, sponsors, and other people that you can reach out to for positive communication during times of need.
Coping skills. Identify coping strategies that you can put into action when cravings strike. These should be positive strategies such as exercise, calling a friend, or meditation.
Contacts. Create a list of formal resources with contact information that you could reach out to quickly and easily. This might include your therapist, physician, or counselor.
Sometimes, everyday emotions can wreak havoc with recovery. HALT is used to describe underlying feelings that could replicate those associated with using drugs or alcohol. HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired; make sure that you are not reacting to one of these emotions before you resort to relapse in an effort to feel better.
Keep this acronym, HALT, in mind when you feel cravings coming on.
Hunger can mimic feelings of withdrawal, leaving you cranky, edgy, and impatient. Before you give in to temptation, eat a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts.
Anger is another emotion that could be driving you toward relapse. Feeling dejected, cynical, or downright mad can trigger cravings and the desire to use drugs or alcohol. Recognize that you are feeling angry and work on softening this feeling with forgiveness or open communication with a supportive person.
Loneliness can also trigger feelings of wanting to use substances. Don't hide away; get out, do something, and engage with positive-minded people!
Tiredness is another feeling that can make you want to use. Make sure you are getting ample rest at night, and follow tips for good sleep hygiene, which can impact how rested you feel the next morning.
Relapse is part of recovery and could provide valuable insight and information surrounding circumstances and situations that lead to relapse and use. Know the triggers that cause you to crave drugs or alcohol, and work on a relapse-prevention plan that addresses those triggers. Recovery is not necessarily a destination, but a journey; make an effort learn some things about yourself as you travel on your own road to recovery!
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