If you have successfully received treatment for opiate addiction, it can seem like mission complete. But there may always be a fear of relapse, and it’s important to be conscious of the need for self-care in maintaining sobriety. Here are a few things that may aid you in continuing to give yourself the healthy and rewarding life you deserve.
Know Your Triggers
The basis of self-care is protecting yourself, and triggers are a big threat to recovery. Triggers have many forms, but they’re dangerous to anyone who’s battled addiction. Some triggers are unavoidable. These may be unexpected, like sudden illness or interpersonal conflicts, but can be deeply impacting.
Stress, unfortunately, has the potential to induce a relapse. When it comes to unexpected developments, it’s important to have healthy coping strategies, and communicate any concerns to trusted people. This may be a counselor, medical professional, or family and friends. Try to celebrate achievements, eschew self-criticism, and be as forgiving as possible. As a form of self-care, have fun, healthy distractions when stress or anxiety increase.
Other triggers, however, can be avoidable. It’s imperative not to return to environments that contributed to addiction, and that includes your home. Many people in recovery have found it beneficial to start their sober life in a new home; if you find yourself constantly haunted by memories of times you used, you’re at risk of being triggered, and you may find it easier to start your next chapter by relocating in recovery. If you take this step, be sure to find a place that makes you feel calm and is in a neighborhood far away from other places that may bring up troubling memories.
It’s also important not to associate with people who enabled or encouraged harmful activities. Behavioral patterns, too, can act as triggers. Be vigilant of harmful habits, such as isolation from friends and family or holding yourself to unrealistic expectations. Just as with addiction itself, the key to challenging triggers is being attentive to your own thoughts and feelings, and acknowledging them. As another act of self-care, you may benefit from creating a coping card, which might feature support numbers and a plan of action detailing how to avoid triggers or positively minimize their effects.
Everyone needs purpose and focus, and, if you’ve been through opiate addiction and recovery, its value is clearer. Maintaining self-care routines is one of the most essential things you can do to prevent relapse. Follow a routine that emphasizes the basics, such as eating well, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, showering, and being physically active. Consider also extending your routines to creative pursuits, or volunteering in your community or for a cause that means a lot to you.
Finding purpose in these activities, or in work and study, can help you regain a lot of the motivation and drive that may have diminished while you were using. Try to create long-term goals as well. They don’t have to be major. They can be things that you feel are attainable and that you can look forward to, which can act as good incentives. Remind yourself that you have achieved a great deal, and think about writing down a list detailing what you value about yourself when you feel low. Overcoming addiction will be a central part of your life, so, as you continue sobriety, take it one day at a time, and value your progress.
No matter how well these routines are practiced, self-care also means not going it alone. Surround yourself with positive people, individuals who don’t have a toxic association to your past. That isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s essential to safeguard you from being exposed to negative influences. Having a strong social network can go a long way to reducing some of the adverse emotions that might undermine sobriety, and be an asset in maintaining healthy coping mechanisms and strengthening self-care. Supportive friends and family can make a big difference. You need people whom you will able to trust and confide in and hang out with healthily, and who will just be there when things are difficult.
Consider, also, attending peer or individual therapy as an additional means of sustaining your sobriety. Each type of therapy has its own merits, from the specialized support of person-to-person counseling to the shared insights of group therapy.
The Bottom Line
Reclaiming your health after prolonged substance abuse isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely possible. Make self-care a priority, and seek support as needed throughout your journey. The sober path will challenge you physically, mentally and spiritually, but with the right habits and consistency, it can be the healthiest life you’ve ever lived.