We all want to gravitate toward what makes us comfortable. This is especially true for those of us in the early stages of addiction recovery. When we first leave treatment, almost everything in life is new, and can be downright scary. We discover alongside our therapists that some of our old behavioral patterns may have led to substance abuse, and we’re encouraged to break identify them and break them. If treatment goes as planned, we learn what these patterns are with the help of our treatment professionals and receive guidance regarding how to break them. Sometimes, however, it’s not always that easy.
Most of us feel a sense of palpable renewal after we complete treatment and enter the first days of recovery. This feeling, and the strength and confidence it perpetuates, can be reinforced in meetings, time spent with family and regular sessions with our therapists. Slowly, however, we may start to feel our old influences creeping back in: the friends and fellow users who have not yet entered recovery, the predisposition toward stress, the inability to recognize our limits, etc. The question then becomes: How do we avoid falling back into these patterns in order to sustain prolonged sobriety and success. We can start by doing the following:
Identifying the Problem – Continuing to work with our mental health professionals to identifying our triggers and vulnerabilities is the best way to determine what puts us at risk for stress-related relapse.
Utilizing Our Knowledge – Progress needs a plan, and that requires real, logistically sound solutions for making this progress. We can put a daily or monthly plan in place that consciously recognizes the need for change. Whether this means relocating, changing our jobs or just avoiding some of our old affiliations, we need to realize that awareness must be accompanied by action.
How’s It Going? – Conducting regular self-diagnostics and evaluating our progress is crucial to our ongoing success. Every so often (whether it’s once a week or once a month or at any other interval with which we’re comfortable), we need to take stock of the effectiveness of our plans to determine if we need to do anything differently.
Recognizing our need for change on all levels is paramount to our success in treatment and recovery. When we start breaking toxic behavioral patterns, we further insulate ourselves from the likelihood of relapse and further substance abuse-related hardship.