With a history of addiction, staying sober or off drugs can be difficult upon leaving addiction rehab where a support network is constantly in place. With that in mind, here are some useful tips to reducing harm and avoiding a lapse while in recovery.
Avoid triggering situations – a lapse can often be triggered by cues, situations, sights etc that have often been associated with the addictive behaviour in the past, for example, visiting a pub. Therefore, it’s very easy for an individual to revert to their substance taking behaviors while in the presence of these cues. These cues can also bring on urges and cravings, so are best to be avoided.
Avoid certain social groups – Similarly to avoiding certain situations, avoiding certain people who engage in substance use or are involved in dealing can be useful. For example, offering illicit substances or a drink to an individual in recovery can trigger urges. For this reason, avoiding these people is advisable. On the flip side of this, engaging with family and friends who show a positive attitude and are willing to offer support post residential rehab has shown a significantly decreased chance of relapse, while negative social groups who encourage drug abuse, crime etc have shown a significantly increased chance of relapse in a 6 month follow up, (Dingle, etal, 2015).
Engage with positive support networks and support groups – Surrounding yourself with others who are actively working towards a healthier lifestyle can help keep you motivated and on track. Added to this, connection and belonging, the showing of unconditional love by family and friends is a huge factor, not only in reducing loneliness, but subsequent lapses that can occur due to feelings of isolation.
HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. – Monitoring these four things is crucial. Acting on a thought, feeling or emotion when angry, hungry, lonely or tired can have detrimental long-term consequences and is a strong predictor of problematic substance use, (Veilleux et al, 2014). Therefore, regulating your emotions by keeping yourself well fed, calm (mindfulness, relaxation techniques), engaged with social groups and well rested (good sleep hygiene!) can go a long way in preventing impulsive decisions. Never use on an emotion.
Consider visiting your local GP – If cravings start to become unmanageable, medication is available to help. Acamprosate or campral (for alcohol) and naltrexone (alcohol and opioids) have both been shown to be effective in reducing cravings in individuals during recovery, (Sass, 1996). These medications work best when combined with psychosocial intervention as this offers the social support while the medication facilitates maintenance of abstinence on a neurological level, (Plosker, 2015).
Access all available support – Accessing all the support available to you is encouraged to give you the best possible chance of staying abstinent. Support can be found in a variety of places. Firstly, online apps on smartphones such as Nomo and Sobertime offer motivation, tips and useful resources to somebody in recovery as well as online forums for others in recovery to help each other. Added to this local counselling services are available nationwide, either free through the NHS with longer waiting times or privately, usually with short waiting times. Parkland Place staff are available to contact 24/7 should you have any concerns, need any information or simply wish to speak to somebody. We are happy to offer support and guidance.
Useful Contact Details:
- NHS counselling and psychological therapies finder: https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-psychological therapies-service/
- Samaritans – Phone: 116 123, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Private counsellor directory: Phone: 0333 325 2500 https://www.counsellingdirectory.org.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImJLSisXb5AIVBYXVCh1sswOVEAAYAiAAEgLgq_D_BwE
- Adfam, Alcohol, drugs and families support group. Phone: 020 3817 9410. Email: email@example.com.
- DAN 24/7 (Wales only). Drug and alcohol helpline: 0808 808 2234
- UK Narcotic anonymous: Phone: 0300 999 1212
- Parkland Place. Phone: 01492 203421