No one ever complains about having to work hard and struggle to get back into an addiction. Feeling the urge to relapse into addiction is common because the temptations (people or situations) that caused the original addiction will still exist after treatment.
It is critical to prepare for the urges that will inevitably rise so that, in the moment, the hard choices that need to be made won’t seem quite so daunting. Here’s how to prepare:
Understand, and face, the challenges that will arise with honesty.
Negative feelings and situations are going to happen. If you sit down and think deeply about what substance use helped you avoid, you’ll come up with a good list of the feelings and situations that are likely to happen again.
It’s also good to acknowledge that feelings and situations you have never experienced before will also present challenges eventually.
Don’t be discouraged! Challenges are a natural part of success so, if you’re experiencing challenges, you’re on the road to success!
Make a plan to succeed.
Once you have a list of the challenges that you know you’ll eventually have to face (as well as an awareness that there will be unexpected ones along the way) you can make a plan to succeed.
List out the decisions you’ll make in the face of each challenge, and explain why you’ll make those choices. Knowing what to do (and why to do it) in advance goes a long way toward eliminating everyday challenges as challenges altogether.
For the situations that you can’t predict, acknowledge that it’s okay to feel like you don’t know what to do as long as you have a plan for handling that feeling of uncertainty.
Stay on track.
Staying on your plan to succeed will be difficult, but you can prepare the right tools in advance. Make a list of the powerful things you can do to keep your plan on track. Include things like speaking to a counsellor, working with mentors and other trusted individuals, and weekly or daily relaxation strategies.
Finding ways to stay on track will help people at every stage of recovery reach goals and correct course if necessary.
Grow your network.
Finally, grow your network. A strong network will help you avoid falls, pick you up if you do stumble, and will celebrate your successes. Most importantly, your network will provide the security that comes from knowing you’ve got good people fighting with you. Your network should include friends, family, and a professional addictions counsellor.
Understanding and facing potential challenges, planning to meet those challenges, listing the support you’ll need, and building a strong network will make your long-term recovery so much less painful (and more successful)!