Ways to Avoid Relapse
Looking for ways to help yourself avoid relapse this summer? Here are 10 ways to tune up your recovery and stay on track:
- Double-check your treatment schedule. No matter what the weather, your need for a continued and regular engagement in treatment sessions and support group meetings will not fade. Unfortunately, summer is the time when many professionals head out of town, as do others who take part in your group sessions. This can leave you feeling as if your progress in therapy is stalling. Missed sessions or anemic sessions can end up contributing to a general sense of malaise and boredom in recovery, which in turn can trigger relapse. Combat this by touching base with your providers and asking about the schedule for the summer. They should know in advance if they will be out of town, and you can make arrangements to meet with someone else or bulk up on other areas of your recovery to fill the gap.
- Connect with a new therapy or group. The summer is a great time to change things up yourself, adding a new group meeting to your weekly schedule or taking the opportunity to explore a new kind of therapy. Join a sports therapy program that offers some outdoor time or begin yoga practice in the park. Take advantage of the weather, or hide out from it inside with an art therapy class or acupuncture sessions. Choose a therapy that will speak to a need that you feel in your recovery, and use the summer months to make some real progress.
- Plan sober events. In areas where there is a thriving sober community, there will likely be a number of sober events planned during the summer with the goal of building community and providing people with a safe place to relax and unwind. If this is not the case, you can plan one yourself. Work with your alumni group at your rehab program to come up with something local, have a sober picnic at a park, or throw a party of your choosing with the goal of bringing people who are working to stay sober together.
- Gather a sober group. If you would like to attend a festival, concert, or other event that will likely include people who are under the influence, gather together a band of sober people who want to attend. It is easier to stay sober in these environments when you have people with you who are also enjoying the event but avoiding drugs and alcohol.
- Go on vacation. There is no rule that you have to stay in town to stay sober. If you have the resources and can take the time off work, head out to the nearest national park for some camping, spend some time hitting up museums that interest you, or plan a trip to spend time with family.
- Get a second job. If you find that things are slowing down and you are bored during the summer, take the opportunity to earn a little extra money and pick up a second job. Stadiums and concert halls often hire extra help to manage the set up and breakdown of concerts. Local amusement parks and tourist attractions hire extra help during the summer as well, as do nearby hotels and restaurants. Pools and kids’ camps need help too. Additionally, because many people move during the summer, you might find work at a local moving company, house painting business, or other home repair/construction businesses.
- Take a class. Community centers and local universities offer summer courses that last 4-12 weeks, depending upon the class. Pick a course that will help you to get into a degree or certificate program that you are interested in, or take a course in welding, art, cooking, or history to learn new things and enjoy yourself.
- Choose a project. Do you often feel that you have so many things that you would love to do but no time to do them? The summer offers a finite window in which you can pick one or two tasks – or more, depending on the scope of your goals – and give yourself the gift of accomplishment. Whether you want to reorganize your closet and install an organizational system, start a blog, build a table, paint your dresser, or clean out your basement, the summer is a great time to dig in and get it done.
- Have a plan. No matter how well you plan out your summer months, there is always a chance that you will come upon something unexpected when your therapist is unreachable or otherwise find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to drink or get high. Just in case, it’s good to have a plan in place that you can implement to ensure you avoid relapse. Have multiple people you can call rather than just one, for example, and build a list of coping mechanisms that you can employ in the moment to help you refocus energy on your recovery.
- Check in with yourself regularly. It can also help you to make sure that you are not inadvertently getting off track in your sobriety by checking in with yourself on a regular basis. Making sure that you are eating healthfully, working out regularly, spending time with positive people, and otherwise seeking balance in your life can help you to manage whatever issues may arise this summer.