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7 weekend relapse prevention tips

Weekend relapse prevention checklist – study and keep with you!

  1. Don’t schedule intense therapy sessions on Friday.
  2. Recognize high levels of stress. Learn to meditate, read, and pray.
  3. Emotional self-assessment is a priority heading into the weekend.
  4. Study your warning signs and triggers Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
  5. Who not to see on weekends.
  6. Where not to go on weekends.
  7. Make sure you have a sponsor, meeting, friend, and/or family member available.

1. Schedule intense therapy sessions earlier in the week

There may be nothing worse than attending intensive therapy prior to the weekend. Even though the idea of therapy is intended to be constructive and helpful, it is always wise to understand that intensive, emotionally charged sessions will stir up feelings that may or may not get resolved during a 50 minute session.

I’m not saying to avoid therapy sessions, because true resolve comes from walking through those feeling. What I am saying is that one needs to have everything in place after therapy sessions to make sure they are not a prime candidate for relapse.

So, when scheduling therapy, have a sponsor and meeting follow-up to process emotionally charged feelings. And don’t expose yourself to being alone for a week-end of isolation right after Friday therapy session.

2. Stress relief

Relationships, long hours on the job, unhealthy family members, financial strains all cause high level of stress. Beginning everyday with a safe effective routine of prayer and scripture reading is a wonderful routine to establish. Focus on relaxation daily.

If you find yourself stressed out, irritable, anxious, then apply breathing techniques to slow down your heart and focus. Deep breathing exercise, when done correctly, is one quick way to refocus on what is important in life.

3. Emotional self-assessment

This assessment is usually a struggle point for most addicts. They have learned not to feel, because feelings are to be avoided. I have found that using a checklist to be very helpful for most people.

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Create a simple form that has an exhaustive list of emotional triggers: anger, fear, guilt, shame, anxiousness, sadness, etc. and put a blank line after each one. On a scale of 1 -10 score your current feelings with each emotion.

To save paper, you could set up seven columns, one for each day of the week and then make 10 copies. That will cover daily assessments for 10 weeks.  Be consistent and follow through each day.

Now examine your daily emotions and identify the source (EX: Anger – conflict with spouse). Try to process the ‘bigger picture’ in the grand theme of things. Is the conflict with your spouse worth risking relapse or putting a wall up between the two of you?

4. Have a relapse prevention plan

Recognize warning signs and triggers.

This should already be a part of your relapse prevention plan. It is vital to recognize what causes you to relapse. For some, it could be the smell or sight of alcohol/drugs. For others, it might be certain people, places or things.

Take a look at your history of relapse. Go back step by step and identify key triggers and warning signs. This will probably consist of thoughts that creep up in your mind that you may have quickly dismissed.

Sometimes those thoughts are filled with wisdom and are meant to help you make the right decision. Other thoughts may be filled with poison, and to listen and act on them can and will be disastrous. Learn to respond to the healthy ones.

5. Identify who not to see on weekends

This is simple and obvious, but if ignored, you will find yourself saying, “What happened?”  I was so certain I would be OK. Don’t surround yourself with old friends that are using buddies. Period!

If you drink alcohol, don’t hang out with others who do; plain and simple. That was a huge part of  my life and to give that up was very hard, but necessary. I look back now and realize our relationships were mostly based on drinking, and very little else. Find new friends who have the same goal to live an addiction free life. There are thousands of new friends waiting to happen.

6. Identify where not to go on weekends

Once again, this one is a no brainer, but our minds will tell us different. We must abstain from places of the past where we acted out. I can’t stress this enough. Our senses will become an instant trigger and regret will quickly set in.

Now, this might seem hard to do, if you act out at home (closet addict). The most effective way to deal with this, is to be totally accountable to a mentor or sponsor. When you are alone, you need a backup to deal with the self-talk, like; you won’t get caught, no one will ever know. You must learn to be open and honest with others, and then utilize that relationship during your obsessions to act out.

7. 12 Step program support

Keep in touch with a sponsor, friends, and meetings. Identify phone numbers, websites, meetings, and a list of people who you can and will fall back on. Remember, someday you will be there for others. Right now, allow others to be there for you.

Photo credit: DJ Lein

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3 Responses to “7 weekend relapse prevention tips
michael
12:16 pm May 19th, 2011

Hi, im so thankful to have found this website,, its helping me a great deal. I imigrated to the U.S. in my 18’s b/d. Found myself alone in a great society where my dreams can come true. I was introduced to drugs back home in the age of 17 and i was hooked right away. Strated out with Weed, then pills and i was taking plenty like its my last day. When i first came to the U.S. to NY. city i was strucked by the reality of being alone in a country i can barely speak its language, but i found a place and worked as delivery boy for quite some time and managed to completely forget about my addiction..When i started to save money and moved to a new state where life was much slower than NY, i had a great job and a nice care i started to have free time to think of doing drugs again, I spent 3 years doing weed, then i wanted more so i started pills and was introduced to x-tacy around the summer of 06, which altered my personality and made me lose all my friends and quit going to church and cheated on my g/f and gave her hell of a summer. I then recovered by going back home and spent sometime there, when i got back fresh and clean i went back but this time to Lortabs, tramadol, and xnax and lost 3 yers of my life without a clue and spent all my money and had trouble with the law and became an alcholic and got arrested twice, finally last year i was introduced to suboxone and got back on track for almost a full year, i worked hard and save money and opened a small business but then i abused another medicine that was given to me by the doctor called Baclofen, i went back to faliure and felt so misrable and selfesh and ignored my business and lost all my customers, lost the business, my g/f broke up with me and lost everything, and got a job at a store but i was always late, i was so irresponsible and after many warnings i lost my job. i quit all my medications and pushed myself thro tough weeks in the house alone with nobody to talk to. I know how drugs affected my life. I get the urge to do take something to seek a doctor to prescribe suboxone, but i have a strong belief in my mind that as long as im still dependant on a drug i will abuse it, even if it was a shot of energy drink, i am such a terrible addictive minded,. I do pray with tears for help to go through this time and stay clean,, But i have been in the house for weeks unable to do the smalest task like eating or even taking care of myself. The first few days i went thro my clothest looking for anything i might have dropped then my care, then my sofa, carpet corner edges to find anything..i go thro tough times alone specialy that i dont have a single family or a friend left anymore . I dont deny that i feel a little better but i cant escape this sense of guilt, anger, anexiety, and feelings of shame to what i’ve done to me,, May the Lord ease my pain and help me go thro this time and find peace once again,,

Steve
10:00 pm May 19th, 2011

Michael,
Thanks for sharing your life and the struggles you have endured. I would suggest that you evaluate where you want to go in your life, set a path, and begin your journey.
You haven’t mentioned counseling, but I would suggest from your story, that you desperately need to allow someone to help. If you don’t have the finances for counseling, then part of your path might be to attend one of two options. Salvation Army (6 months) or Teen Challenge ( 1 year program). They both offer counseling and transitioning back into society with real coping skills and support. They both have work programs and tough guidelines, but it appears those might be the best thing for you. Have someone else guide and plan your day to day while getting help.
I know 6 months or a year seem so long, but a day will come that you will look back on this moment as the changing point in your life and that short time of treatment will be but a faint memory of your life.
God bless you and thanks again for sharing.
Dr. Steve

Alida
10:21 pm March 7th, 2012

hi i am the mother off a 22 year old daughter which was also doing drugs, but came to us for help,when i listen to all she”s got to say i was stunt, people using drug dont care if it is your last day on earth they just think about the feeling, that feeling that gives you the personality, the guts and the feeling of no worries.

Now if people smoke normal sigarrets and struggel to leave it, how more sevear will it be for someone using drugs, like coacain, herion, cat and so musch more.In my experience with dealing with this I came to the conclusion that most of these people using these drug are actually lonely, no convidence in them selfs and have a very low esteem.

May I just tell you something, and that is that actually if you leave the stuff and become yourself again in the praise of GOD you will find that you are actually a great person with a lot off love and so much to share with people that went through the same as you have, actually you can help your self by helping others, sharing your experience with them.

About Dr. Steve Jackson, DCC

Dr. Jackson received his Doctorate in Christian Counseling from Omega Bible Institute and Seminary in 2009. He developed the Christian recovery treatment programs for Calvary Rehab Center and the Genesis Center for Recovery. He has trained and practiced Christian Counseling in all areas of drug/alcohol/gambling/sex and relationship addictions. He currently has his own web based online program called 12 Day Rehab Systems, designed for those who can work on recovery while maintaining career and family obligations. Dr. Jackson has been clean and sober since 1984. Learn more about Recovery with Dr. Steve.

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