Ways to Decrease Relapse Events

Tips on decreasing relapse events

Ways to Decrease Relapse

Events Relapse is defined as a process of events that has led a person who has been abstinent for some time to resume drinking. Recovery involves practicing new ways of thinking and behaving. Here are some practices that will help you actively cope with urges and cravings to drink or use.

1. Relapse Is a Process, Not an Event

• Increase awareness of personal symptoms of risk. What are your triggers?

2. Abstinence Versus Recovery

• Abstinence is just saying no, and it counts on willpower alone. Willpower is hard to count on when your resistance or mood is low, your mind is confused, your stress is high, etc.

• Recovery is the process of gaining skills to cope with life’s issues constructively. Recovery involves the following:

• Asking for help and getting support

• Learning and putting in practice active coping skills

• Increasing self-awareness by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors

• Keeping a green memory

• Watching out for Stinking Thinking1 or thinking errors

• Examining your spiritual self and values

• Cultivating enjoyment of being clean and sober

• Taking good care of yourself

3. Active Coping and Emergency Coping

• What will you do if you are in danger of relapse?

• Keep your Active Coping List and emergency phone lists handy (in your wallet, on your refrigerator, on the bathroom mirror, etc.).

• Add your own favorites that work to your Active Coping List.

• Don’t forget urge surfing. If you distract yourself, the urge will pass. Get busy NOW!!!

• Who will you call if you are in danger of relapse?

• Names (a sponsor, clean friends supportive of recovery, family, etc.)

• Phone numbers

• Hotlines

4. Get Regular Support

• Go to community support group meetings on a regular basis (substance abuse treatment groups, AA, NA, CA, SMART Recovery, DMDA, women’s or men’s groups, etc.). You are not alone.

• Build relationships with people you trust.

• Get a sponsor.

• Use these people as sounding boards to check out your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

5. Are You Planning a Relapse? How Can You Tell?

•What are your patterns? Relapse does not come out of the blue but consists of a chain of choices that do not support your recovery.

6. Keep a Green Memory

• Don’t allow yourself to think or talk about any real or imagined pleasure you once got from drinking or drugging. Be careful of romanticizing the high (the glamour, the cool, the instant groups, the atmosphere, etc.) and forgetting about the hangovers, blackouts, and shakes as well as the physical, mood, relationship, and career damage that resulted.

• Don't allow yourself to think "Isn't it unfair that I can't drink or drug like so-called normal people?"

• Don't allow yourself to think that a drink or drug would make some bad situation better or easier to live with. Repair these thoughts ("One drink or drug will make it worse. One drink or one drug will mean a drunk or a binge.").

• Cultivate the thought that using alcohol or drugs was a major cause of misery and embarrassment.

• Cultivate the thought that using alcohol or drugs will take away from this new found happiness and joy and take away your self-respect and peace of mind.

7. Watch Out for Stinking Thinking/Thinking Errors

8. How Is Your Spirit?

• How do you feel about yourself? Are you living in accordance with your values? Have you done your daily "self check-in," in order to keep current and increase your selfawareness? How are you doing with practicing gratitude, honesty, openness, willingness, forgiveness, tolerance, humility, trust, patience, and compassion? Watch out for resentment, preoccupation with fairness, irritability, and dishonesty. These thoughts may signal a relapse in the making.

9. Cultivate Enjoyment of Being Clean and Sober

• Freedom from shame

• Freedom from guilt: peace of mind, self-respectful possession of your faculties (better decision making, increased ability to think through the consequences of your choices, ability to recognize and stay with your feelings, etc.)

• Free of consequences of behaviors done while under the influence of alcohol or drugs

• Free of fear of yourself: increased self-trust and ability to count on yourself

• Ability to eat and sleep normally

• Restored judgment and decision-making abilities lets you face what life dishes out. Peace of mind, self-respect, and confidence that you can handle what comes your way.

10.Take Care of Yourself

• Eat when you are hungry; deal constructively with your feelings of sadness, anger, and fear; and get rest when you are tired.

• Practice good nutrition.

• Learn and practice natural relaxation, such as yoga or mindfulness meditation.

• Have fun. Rediscover creative endeavors you stopped doing because you were using. • Hang out with people who are healthy and positive for you.

• Exercise.

Developed by Kathy F. Grace, MA, LPC - Addictions Therapist. Reproduced with permission.