Anybody who’s completed a recovery program knows that – just like cancer, diabetes or any other chronic illness – without proper care, active drug or alcohol addiction can come back at any time. It can be a daunting thought, but there are many ways to set yourself up for continued success. Before our clients leave their treatment programs, we make sure to offer insights to lifestyle changes that will help keep them on the right track, such as:
- Find your new fun: While you’re using, you’re likely involved with a number of negative social outlets that are associated with your substance use. This can take the form of negative people, dangerous places, or simply engaging in typical tasks, like bowling, with a drink in your hand or a drug in your system. When you leave treatment, you’ll need a new set of activities for fun – because fun is important. As for the negative people, it’s really important to break those ties. While it seems hard, it’s as simple as saying: “I was a different person back then, doing things that I no longer wish to do. I hope you’ll understand and support me in following a new path.” Many people living in sobriety find strong bonds and lasting friendships in their various support groups. It’s a sensitive time and surrounding yourself with like-minded people, working towards the same goals, is both helpful and enjoyable.
- Eat, sleep and run: Taking care of your health can aid in sober living more than most people realize. We’ve talked at length about the benefits of fitness in and after drug and alcohol rehabilitation, but did you know that nutrition also plays a major role? Sugar and caffeine, often used as stimulants, can easily trigger you and lead to a relapse. It may seem odd, but sugar and caffeine affect neurotransmitters in the brain in a similar manner as alcohol and hard drugs. Do your best to stay away from energy drinks, too much candy and too much coffee. And sleep well! As we all know, a lack of sleep keeps us reaching for the coffee – starting a vicious cycle.
- Seek out your centers: Whether you’ve had a small lapse or are simply feeling vulnerable, get yourself to a meeting, schedule a counseling session, or meet with your clinician. In Massachusetts, Peer Recovery Centers can be found all around the state and these services are free of charge, and potentially life-saving. Find a Spectrum Health Systems Peer Recovery Center near you.
- Try technology: Our smart phones have changed everything, and recovery is no exception. A number of free – or very cheap –mobile apps are now available that will allow you to connect with other people in recovery, remain alert of dangerous areas, and more. Addiction.com has done the research for you, so check out the top six sobriety apps. Don’t forget to tune into helpful podcasts or radio shows such as our own – Airing Addiction – that speak with experts, people in recovery and shares stories of hope every week.
- Have a plan: It’s important to remember that a relapse is not a failure; it’s simply a part of your journey. The key to dealing with it quickly and healthily is preparedness. Most treatment programs will ensure that you leave with a detailed crisis relapse prevention plan. This little slip of paper – made to fit in your wallet, purse, car or wherever you need it to be – will have the names, addresses and contact information of your friends and family members with safe spaces for you to stay, your counselors and clinicians and, if necessary, your probation officer or attorney. While in the throes of a relapse you may be scared, angry and anxious, making this information easy to forget and hard to find.
At Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center, we will always be here to welcome you back with open arms and get you back on the right track. Please contact us or call if you need us: (844) 233-6372.