The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has revealed that the rates of relapse of drug addiction are similar to that of other common chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma. Thus, it requires an active strategy of continued management in order to pave the way for a full recovery. In substance abuse, a relapse is considered part of the recovery process. When a relapse occurs, it is dealt with promptly and the treatment method reviewed and readjusted to bring the addict back to the right path.
While treating an addict who has relapsed is laudable, it is much better to prevent it from happening in the first place. When you catch yourself from spiraling down into past behavior, you have a much higher chance of going into a full recovery. Thus, it’s important to come up with strategies that you can employ when you feel very strong cravings for drugs and alcohol and check the urge right there.
First of all, it’s important to keep the contacts of your most supportive loved ones on speed dial on your phone or if you don’t have one, on a card in your wallet. When you feel the urge to drink or sniff, give them a call. Perhaps you can arrange to meet and talk or play a game. Sometimes, all you need is a temporary distraction to get the thoughts of addiction out of your head. At other times, just knowing that you have someone to talk to who understands what you are going through is enough to strengthen your resolve.
Second, it’s crucial to plan ahead of time what you need to do in case these cravings start. You should go through these activities in your head regularly so that you know how to act. For instance, you could engage in your favorite form of exercise. Whether you walk, jog, swim or play basketball, getting up on your feet and sweating it out will help release those cravings from your system. Another possible activity is prayer or meditation. When tempted to engage in substance abuse once more, some people find strength in contemplation and asking a higher power to give them the courage to say no. Still another alternative is to draw, paint or engage in other types of artistic pursuits. Channeling your energies towards another purpose is one effective method of fighting cravings.
Third, don’t put yourself in a situation where you will be near temptation. If going to bars and drinking places led you to doing drugs in the first place then you should avoid going to these areas. If it was your cousin who influenced you to take cocaine months ago and you know that he is still addicted to it then you know better than to go to his place. If being with certain friends will mean that you will be closer to drugs and alcohol, then you should just hang out with other friends.
There are different ways to prevent a relapse. The important thing is to acknowledge that you will have cravings from time to time but at the same time know that you have it in your hands to manage them.