For people in recovery from drugs or alcohol, life can be very challenging at times. You have to think about staying sober, and working your recovery, on top of all the other day to day life problems that people face. And relapse is a real threat, even for people who have been clean and sober for years. Let’s look at why that is, so that you can be better armed in your recovery from alcohol or other drugs.
It is still a biological issue. Depending on how long you have been using, and what type of drug it was, your body become accustomed to having that substance in it. When you got clean and sober your biology did not know that was for the best. It just knew it was used to something and now it was not there. It is still looking for that next fix, that next drink, that next high. Re-training it is possible, but it does take time, and sometimes those old body memories come back.
Do you feel supported?
Recovery often involves attending some form of support group, but this is not always enough to overcome a lack of support from friends and family members. There are several reasons why an addict may not get the emotional support they need from those closest to them. They may be ashamed of their drug or alcohol use, and are keeping the extent of their problem a secret. Even the most well intentioned friends and relatives cannot help if they don’t know about the problem. Even worse, they may say or do things that unintentionally make matters worse. So, a lack of good social support can be detrimental to someone in recovery.
Do you manage your stress well?
Stress has long been viewed as enemy number one for anyone in recovery. A relentless workload can build stress and pressure slowly until a tipping point is reached, or stress can come upon us in a tsunami after a loved one passes away or a relationship falls apart.
Dealing with stress is what frequently leads people down the path of addiction to begin with, and that’s why it’s such a powerful foe. It starts with “one to take the edge off” and it works, albeit temporarily. All too soon a distraction becomes a habit and a habit becomes an addiction. To deal with stress requires a two fronted approach. The first part of the strategy is avoidance. The recovering addict should avoid situations and people that are likely to cause them stress. However, stress cannot always be avoided, and effective ways to manage and cope with it are also needed.
Do you avoid temptations?
Most people in recovery know enough to avoid the people and places that got them into trouble in the first place; at least in the beginning. But then they forget somehow. Their minds slowly tell them it was not so bad, or that the withdrawals were not a problem. They forget how embarrassing some of the things drugs made them do was, or how they lost so much from drinking. This too is a natural process in the mind, a way of comforting ourselves, but in the instance of substance abuse this is a problem. If you forget the bad old days, you may lose some of the motivation for recovery that you had in the first place.
Recovery can be a long road, and you may feel your addiction for a while after you have been sober. The urge can be there for a while in the back of your mind. You know it is partially biology and your body acting how it is supposed to act, or that it is a reaction to stress, a lack of support, or just forgetting the bad old days. In knowing this, you can arm yourself and strengthen your recovery, so you do not have to make these same mistakes that others have.