Preventing a relapse

| January 27, 2019

If you are a recovering alcoholic and drug addict like me, the thought and urge to relapse is always there, especially in early recovery. People like us fight so hard every day to not pick up a drink or drug. It is a lot more difficult than normal people think.

It might not take much for us to be triggered. A bad day at work, problems with family or personal relationships could drive us to pick up a drink or drug again. It is even more difficult to fight the urge to relapse for those of us who struggle with mental health issues. A lot of us used drinking and drugs to self-medicate.

In my case, it was for depression. Life seems to become strange, unfamiliar, scary and complicated when you take away the drugs and alcohol. When I first got sober, I had no idea who I was. I only knew who I was when I was drinking or using. Substance abuse does not benefit anyone.

Fellowship and sponsorship

The key to preventing a relapse goes beyond self-control. It goes beyond our own, individual strength. People like us have to rely on the fellowship of programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. We have to build strong support systems with others who are also fighting for their sobriety.

Finding a good sponsor is important, as they should help guide you through the twelve steps. A good sponsor should always be there for you to contact in case you feel like drinking or using. A sponsor will also work you through the twelve steps. The purpose of the twelve steps is to free yourself from the baggage that comes with our history of substance abuse.

The twelve steps allow us to see the error of our ways, make amends and bury our dark past once and for all. The idea of fellowship, sponsorship and twelve steps is to work on ourselves first and foremost. The urge to relapse grows stronger if we isolate, stop attending meetings and discontinue sponsorship. I have found in my experience the work does get easier and works wonders.

Therapy and Medication

A lot of addicts and alcoholics struggle with a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. This means not only do we have a substance misuse disorder but some type of mental health issue as well. The most common mental health issues for an addict or alcoholic are anxiety and depression.

People like us seek therapy and medications to help combat our substance abuse and mental health issues. The fact of the matter is I don’t think anyone is capable of staying completely sober on their own. It is okay to seek therapy and find medication as needed. I have realized that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. It can improve your mental health and well-being.

Life and Death

I’m sure this is true for a lot of people as well but I found getting stuck in my own head was another threat to my sobriety and a potential cause to relapse. I had my days where I would question myself and my sobriety. I would repeatedly ask myself “why am I doing this? What’s the point when drugs and alcohol already took every good thing I had in life?”

While I was in treatment a good friend said it best: “we may have another relapse within us but we may never have another recovery.” One relapse could easily lead to the tragic loss of life. That is why a lot of us choose to get the help we need. We choose to stay sober because we understand that it truly can mean life or death.