Ten new ideas for preventing drug relapse
1. Pray. When you are facing a craving to use drugs or alcohol or an acting out behavior, get humble and ask for intervention. You can be specific in your prayers, and desperate and needy and descriptive if needed. Ask your Higher Power to intervene and point you in another direction, to show you a sign, to deliver freedom, or simply to help you in this, your darkest hour.
2. Think a possible relapse through to the end. Yes, getting high can deliver a fix. Yes, the buzz is right around the corner. But what happens when you come down? Think a relapse through to the very end. To the tired, lonely, regretful YOU that you are left with. Getting high may help temporarily, but you are always left with yourself in the end.
3. Exercise. It might sound naive/stupid/easy, but the way that you feel now is NOT the same as the way you will feel in 10-15-or even 20 minutes. If you add a little exercise to your state of mind, get your adrenal system going, and circulate blood through your body, you will feel differently. If it’s the middle of the night, and you’ve got a killer craving…do jumping jacks at home, run the stairs, do push ups. Aim for a good 5 to 10 minutes of exercise. At the least, you can put your mind on something other than your obsession.
4. Call someone. Reach out and contact another person. Tell on yourself. And see what they say. It doesn’t even need to be someone in recovery, but make call a positive person in your life and let them know what’s going on in your head. If it’s too late to call someone, make an audio recording of yourself talking about what’s in your head and play it back and listen to yourself (it might help snap you out of a craving).
5. Work on the fourth step. This relapse prevention tool works on so many levels. You can work on your fourth step at any time of day or night, and get to the ROOT of why you’re thinking and feeling the way that you do. Even if you don’t continue writing or taking stock of your fears and resentments…before you’re thinking about a relapse, get out your moral inventory and READ IT OVER. This is a great reminder, that THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO RELAPSE.
6. Do a dictionary dive. Pick up a book (even a dictionary) and open randomly to the first page you land on and start reading. This works especially well with inspirational reading, or spiritual books. Again, the principle is to engage your mind elsewhere to allow the craving to use drugs, alcohol or an acting out behavior (sex, gambling, internet addiction) to pass.
7. Track your recovery using technology. One of the best ways to prevent relapse is to identify triggers that make you want to use. If you track your emotional state over time, and pair it up with the number of meetings you attend, your 12 step work, your contact with your sponsor…you may identify patterns. The idea is to help PREDICT times that you will crave alcohol or drugs and then learn how to AVOID the situations which lead to cravings. Search the iTunes store for “addiction recovery” apps. Many applications are free, and can really help!
8. Increase 12 step meetings. If you feel like a relapse is around the corner, increase your commitment to 12 step meetings. If you’re going to meetings only a few times a week, go every day. If you’re going every day, go multiple times a day. If you need a meeting hour-to-hour…get online. There are virtual AA meetings, and 12 step AA chat meetings on the internet. Even if you’re in a remote place on earth, getting to a 12 step meeting is possible!
9. Take a hot bath. This might sound really corny, but run a bath. If you can commit to 20 minutes of stalling, you might just act out differently.
10. Distract yourself. Do something. Do anything. Download a cool meditation from Andrew Jackson. Watch a comedy film. Get online and search for relapse prevention tips. Whatever it is, just do something different than obsessing about your drug or behavior of choice and on how you are feeling. Get your head out of your current state, keep it there for a little while, and see how you feel.
Got more relapse prevention ideas?
Or do you have an opinion about the list above? Please let us know about them here. We invite your feedback and suggestions, your comments or criticism. Relapse prevention is an ongoing process, and the more ideas the better!