Five things you can do to help prevent a relapse.....
1. Where possible, cut all connections with the people, places and things associated with your past drug and alcohol use.
2. Attend self-help groups such as NA, AA and GA regularly (get a sponsor and take up a secretary position of a meeting). To increase your chances of staying drug free, get a counsellor, join a recovery-based day programme and commit to an aftercare recovery group.
3. Work towards a balanced lifestyle with the focus always on your recovery. It is crucial for people in early recovery to avoid highly stressful situations, where possible, as stress can be a big 'push' factor in relapse. Causes of stress include relationships, court cases, exams, being dishonest, bills, and so on.
4. Get into the habit of talking about your emotions feelings and problems. Remember, it's ok to think about using but it's really important to open up and tell your sponsor, counsellor and other recovery supports that you are thinking about using. Being honest with the right people about your thoughts and feelings can be crucial to your recovery.
5. Find a productive outlet for excitement in your recovery. For example, take part in team sports, football, Gaelic, hurling, and so on. Or get involved in physical activities such as running, the gym, dancing, tennis, boxing, and so on. If these don't suit you, find something that does, for example drama, water sports, cooking.
What to do if you relapse...
1. Stop using. Remember that you can use a relapse as an important learning experience in your recovery.
2. Ask for help. Go to a meeting, ring your sponsor, contact your counsellor and aftercare immediately and put a plan in place.
3. Avoid the trap of self-pity and the 'blame and shame' game. It is important to focus on solutions. You can look at why you relapsed later. Right now, the most important thing is to stop using and ask for help.