We lost 81,000 souls to overdoses last year. I think that’s enough
If you do not have a relapse prevention plan, you are doing yourself a great disservice. One of my best friends relapses and believe me, we have many plans in place to keep that from happening as often as we can. Most of the time, it works.
But first, here’s why it’s important
In isolation people struggling with substances and alcohol are more vulnerable in so many ways. As we head into one year of pandemic life, what can we do to help ourselves and others? The facts tell a grim story. Since the Pandemic started, the rates of relapse and overdose have skyrocketed. Alcohol sales have risen more than 25%, marijuana sales are through the roof with some sites reporting that the number of new users ordering online increased 142% over the last month alone. Life is difficult and people are turning to substances to dull reality. People in recovery are struggling and relapse is common.
Creating a safe relapse prevention in Covid 19 means identifying your triggers and planning for them
Relapse prevention starts with knowing your triggers. They say some of the biggest relapse triggers include, boredom, stress, financial stress, and relationship issues. Is there anyone is the world NOT facing those issues right now? It is the nature of a pandemic to create issues for all of those things listed above. Also, being that we are going to be triggered by life right now, how can we plan for disturbances to our emotional and mental well-being? We can make a relapse prevention plan.
1. Check your mood every day
Relapse prevention also means staying in touch with your emotions. You can have the habit of feeling bad, which means you need to turn that around. If you wake up upset, acknowledge what has upset you and consider ways to restart your day. That friend who relapses I mentioned above. We speak every morning. It’s not always easy but we do it because it means someone close to him knows if he’s starting to sound funky.
Also, we are both recovering drama queens and we need a daily reality check to see if we’re steaming over anything stupid. If something upsets you during the day, pause and journal or call someone to process what happened. Don’t hold it inside or let obsessive thinking create a story. I stopped relapsing when I realized my feelings wouldn’t kill me. Always find the time or someone who can help straighten out your thinking if you’re losing control. Journaling helps to keep you in touch with yourself.
2. Make a sober buddy, enlist someone to help
As I say over and over, You can’t do this alone. Often I get a huge dose of relief by simply calling one of my sober buddies and having a chat. They make me laugh, they help me see my own craziness, and best of all they help make me feel less alone. So many relapses come from feeling alone and having that desperate feeling. Get in the habit of calling a friend, sponsor, mentor, relative, sober sister or brother, anyone who can help fill that pause with positive reinforcement and remind you that you are loved and your recovery matters. This one comes from my book, 100 Tips For Growing Up, so believe me when I say it’s important.
3. Relapse prevention in Covid 19 may mean finding a new recovery support group
Connection, connection, connection! I get it, not everyone subscribes to 12-step and that’s cool. But, everyone needs to connect with like-minded individuals when seeking a new lifestyle. I’m a 12-stepper, myself. That means AA, NA, Al-Anon CODA, and other 12 Step programs, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone. There are other options. SMART Recovery, Embrace Recovery, Religion, Sports, recovery coaches and a recovery program like The Recovery Playbook , are all fantastic alternatives. The point is, it helps to have a support network and a recovery program that is helping you develop your recovery and all other aspects of your life for that matter. You can’t do it without connections to other people experiencing what you are experiencing, who can keep you centered.
4. Make a relapse plan in case you slip
If you are someone who relapses, it may make sense to make a plan for if it happens. I don’t know what that looks like for you, but whether it includes having Narcon around, or having an addiction professionals cell phone handy, or someone you can call the minute you’re ready to come back. It’s not insane to plan for the worst. In that same spirit, maybe write yourself a letter for that exact moment reminding yourself why it’s a bad idea and leave it in your car, or wherever it should be to find at the right time. If there is someone safe to call in that moment, put their number right by the dealers. Take actions to interrupt the pattern and just prepare for whatever happens.