Tips for Coping with the Pressure to Relapse
Getting into rehab for your addiction was a huge and important step. Making it through the process was an uphill battle. Now, you are out of rehab and back in the real world. The first thing you want to do is drink, right? No matter what anyone tells you before you go into recovery, resisting the urge to relapse once you are sober may just be the hardest part of all.
Once you are out of your support network and 24-hour care of a rehabilitation facility, you are largely on your own. You may have helpful and supportive family and friends, but you are the only one who can stop you from drinking again. You must find a way to cope with your feelings and the underlying reasons that you became an addict in the first place. Something has to replace the drinking and now is the time to find your healthy alternatives. Here are some ideas to get you inspired:
- Exercise. Now is a great time to get fit. Find a fun way to be more active, such as taking classes at a gym or learning how to dance. If you enjoy socializing with others, consider joining a league for soccer, baseball, basketball, or any other team sport. The more active you are, the less time you will have to think about drinking. Additionally, exercise and physical movement release natural feel-good chemicals in your brain, so you can literally get a natural high from working out. If you get bored easily, or if working out begins to feel like a chore, change it up and try different things.
- Get creative. Exercise and physical fitness are great for keeping your body fit and for keeping your mind clear, but mental fitness is also important. Stoke your creative fires and tame your urges to relapse. Engaging in something creative is a great way to express yourself and to release the tension that you feel when you have an urge to drink. Try painting, drawing, or even writing. Expressing your thoughts on paper, even if you are the only one who will ever read it, can be very therapeutic. If art has never been your strong suit, consider taking a class at your local community college or community center.
- Learn something new. In addition to the creative arts, your mind can benefit from learning something more academic. This could be practical. For instance, you might want to enroll in a local community college and work toward a degree. You can also learn something new just for fun. Maybe you have always wanted to go to Paris. Start learning French so you can go one day and speak with the locals.
- Focus on work. If you enjoy your job, dive in head first and take on new and more challenging projects. If you are not so satisfied at work, this could be a great time to work toward something new and better. Maybe a promotion at your current location is possible. If so, talk to your boss about what you need to do to earn that raise and new position and then put all your energies into doing it. You might also consider searching for and getting your dream job. This is a great way to focus your urges on something positive.
- Pick up a hobby. Maybe you used to work on model trains or you gardened, but your drinking got in the way. Now is the perfect time to get back into your old hobbies. They made you feel good in the past, so use them now as a way to resist the urge to drink. If things from the past hold too many negative memories, start up a new hobby.
- Spend time with family and friends. This may be the most important tool you have in your kit for releasing pressure and avoiding a relapse. When you feel bad, turn to a trusted confidant and vent. Take him out for a cup of coffee and have a good, long, healing talk. Surround yourself with friends and members of your family who are positive influences. A strong social life is key to staying sober and healthy.
Whatever you do to relieve tension and pressure, make sure it is not a return to the bottle. Having come this far, you know you have the strength to stay clean. Use these ideas to help you vent your frustrations and to find an outlet for your excess energy.