After you’ve started leading a clean and sober life why would you want to go back? You don’t, no one does but it does happen. A relapse can occur for numerous reasons, the biggest being stress, old habits and old user friends. If you’re serious about living a healthy and sober life then you need to arm yourself with a backup plan, just in case you find yourself sliding back down that slippery slope of abuse once again.
Relapse Prevention Checklist
1. Get a new number
All your old influences have your number and a way to contact you. Getting a new number will make you less accessible to those habits and the people that enable and encourage you to start using again. Don’t take your phone numbers with you. The people in your new, sober life need to be the only ones you can easily contact.
2. Find a safe haven
Don’t live alone, especially in the area where you were used to using. You’re just asking for trouble. If at all possible, move in with a loving relative that only wants to see you succeed. Sit down and make a plan with that person as to what they need to do if they see you falling back into your old habits. Establish a curfew and a schedule of when you need to contact that relative or safe person throughout the day. For the first few months it should be as if you’re in high school again, boundaries need to be set and followed. Sitting down and working these out together, then signing them and placing them in a prominent spot will help remind both of you that this is only temporary and it will get better. As you continue to do well, privileges can be restored until eventually, you’ll have a new life, set of friends, and interests. You will be able to work your way to becoming a stable and productive member of society once again.
3. Have a “Sponsor”
It doesn’t have to be the person you’re living with, it may be better if it’s not. A clean friend or a sponsor needs to agree to be available 24/7 if you call. If you feel like you’re going to use or you’re extremely upset, you need a safe person to call and talk you down. If it’s a friend, consider having them attend counseling sessions with you and have your councilor explain why you need them, why you react like you do, and how best to help you through this transition period. With the right support, anyone can lead an amazing life.
4. Learn to de-stress
Take a yoga class, start working out, practice meditation. Do anything you can to channel the negative energy and emotions that you have been putting into your substance and convert it into powerful, positive, healing energy. Your mind is a powerful tool, as I’m sure you’ve already learned. Overcoming an addiction isn’t as easy as thinking yourself well, but it helps. Practicing activities that continue to teach calm and acceptance will only reinforce the work you are doing in meetings and therapy. Once you learn to control your mind, you can control the rest of your life.
This list isn’t complete but it’s a start. Making a plan is the most important thing you can do. When you begin to backslide it’s easy to rationalize your behavior but if you write it down on paper and post it where you will see it every day, it is much easier to stay accountable to the clean and sober life that you have worked so hard for.