Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing

Abuse Recovery

How to Resist Relapse When Life Feels Out of Control

by Trevor McDonald

Life has a habit of spiraling out of control when we least expect it. As a recovering addict during this time, equipping ourselves with the right emotional tools can help us overcome the possibility of suffering a relapse.

This is how to resist relapses when life feels out of control:

1. Have a Game Plan Ready

Control emotional impulses by having a game plan of coping mechanisms ready. For example, if you feel more inclined to give into having “just one drink” or soothing your nerves with a cigarette, have items on hand that combat the urges, such as a water bottle or healthy snack. You can consume them instead without having to face any consequences since they’re healthy and harmless substances. Alternatively, if you feel that being present at an event, like a family holiday party, is too overwhelming, then leave. Sometimes, walking away is the most powerful action you can take to maintain sobriety.

2. Seek out Your Support System

When you need a shoulder to lean on, don’t hesitate to contact your support system, i.e., friends, family, therapy group, or therapist. They will remind you that this journey to sobriety is always worth the struggle and you will surpass this difficult time. Being honest and open about your concerns with people you trust never fails to make circumstances more bearable. Saying what bothers you aloud and receiving feedback for it gives your emotions validation.

3. Stay Consistent with a Routine

Even if life has no intention of slowing down or taking it easy anytime soon, you can manage your stress by staying consistent with a routine. Two main pitfalls that lead to relapse are disorganization and unpredictability. But intentionally keeping to a schedule with good habits, such as waking up early, eating breakfast, exercising, and showering, help you stand your ground despite feeling emotionally unstable. These everyday actions may not seem like much – but in retrospect, you realize that committing to a routine is a security that prevents you from backtracking on progress.

4. Avoid Past Triggers

While it’s tempting to re-visit past triggers, like meeting up with toxic acquaintances from the past, you should resist the urge to do so. There’s a reason why your life of drug addiction was left behind: it has no place in your current life anymore. In fact, if you haven’t already, cut out and eliminate anything and anyone who will make you fall back into your old ways.

5. Be Compassionate and Understanding to Yourself

Last but not least, treat yourself with compassion and understanding when life gets out of control. If you do suffer a relapse, don’t berate or criticize yourself. Relapses are common for recovering addicts, and just because you had a momentary lapse in judgment does not mean all your efforts to become sober were meaningless or that you’re a failure. What matters most is that you’re willing to acknowledge your actions and move forward from them, and develop the emotional resilience to walk away from your past every day.

About the Author

Trevor is a freelance content writer and a recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.


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