Living at an inpatient treatment facility makes it easy to focus on your recovery. You aren’t being interrupted by the stressors of everyday life. Once you leave treatment and begin reintegrating into society, you may have thoughts about drinking or using drugs and even miss your substance use disorder. Finding healthier ways to spend time and cope with stress can help alleviate a relapse.
Why Are You Thinking About Times When You Consumed Drugs or Alcohol?
You look good and feel great, but you can’t stop thinking about times you previously used drugs or alcohol. Acknowledging those feelings and discussing them with your sponsor, family, friends, or therapist is essential. Keeping these thoughts and feelings bottled up will only increase the odds of a relapse. Here are some of the reasons you might feel like you’re missing out on drugs and alcohol:
In early recovery, you may be easily triggered by external triggers such as people, places, and things that were part of your past substance abuse. You won’t always be able to avoid running into people, visiting certain places, or seeing certain things that remind you of your past, but what you can do is develop a plan to cope with these triggers in case they arise. Or you may struggle with internal triggers that align more with unhappiness or inability to regulate your emotions. Sometimes these internal triggers develop due to lack of adequate sleep, loneliness, inability to cope with feelings of anger, or dietary issues. When one thing goes wrong, it could cause you to think negatively and fantasize about a time when you were using drugs or alcohol and convince yourself that it solved all of your problems. This is the disease talking, and all of these triggers can be avoided or managed by practicing mindfulness, having a solid aftercare plan, and engaging in self-care.
Blocking Out Emotions
Acknowledging that you are powerless over your addiction will enable you to begin the journey toward wellness. If you refuse to acknowledge the severity of your addiction and all the pain it has caused by suppressing your emotions, you are working against your recovery. An essential component of addiction recovery is examining the emotional factors that lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Figuring out how to balance work, relationships, and a new daily routine while maintaining your recovery can be challenging. You may feel frustrated and overwhelmed, leading to a break in your routine, like skipping an AA meeting or failing to reach out to someone for support. Neglecting your recovery can cause the stress to mount and the negative emotions to move in, making it easier for you to relapse and replace coping mechanisms with drugs and alcohol as a solution.
Getting Sentimental Over Past Substance Use
Glamorizing past occurrences of drinking or using drugs and how great it made you feel is hypnotic. It may send you down the path of thinking “I am strong enough now, to control my use”…” this time I can mindfully drink or use drugs”. When we recall memories, we often only think about the positive portion of the memory, like the fact that we wore a great outfit or all of our friends were there, but if you sit and reflect on the aftermath of that memory, like drinking too much and throwing up everywhere or getting into a fight with your friends over your behavior, was it so great? If your remembering a positive memory surrounding your substance abuse there is likely a negative memory associated with it as well.
Make Recovery A Priority
Regardless of how prepared you may feel for re-entry into society after addiction treatment, and no matter how solid your aftercare may seem, there will still be unexpected issues and uncertainties. 12 step meetings are a great way to reinforce your recovery mindset. During any moment of uncertainty, it’s essential to take note of any warning signs for a potential relapse. Utilizing the relapse prevention coping skills you acquired in addiction rehab will help you to overcome these unexpected obstacles.
In early recovery, intense cravings are expected. Having these periods of nostalgia for drugs and alcohol is common due to the disease of addiction. If the thoughts arise, the best way to control the thought from turning into action is to try and manage how you respond, and in time, they will occur less frequently. Try focusing on where you are today in your recovery and the components of recovery that benefit your mind, body, and spirit. To heal from the past traumas of your addiction, you need to focus on yourself, what provides you happiness, and what keeps you healthy and connected to your surroundings. Take a moment to reflect on what the contributing factors may be that are causing you to believe things were easier under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Have you been neglecting your recovery routine? What can you do to regain control of your recovery and discover what you are passionate about?
Employ Healthy Coping Strategies
During addiction treatment in New Jersey, you will develop effective coping strategies. Physical exercise, journaling, and breathing techniques are excellent ways to cope with stress and make each day feel lighter. Time management is another effective strategy to focus on high-priority tasks first and accomplish the work in smaller portions. Trying out a new hobby in early recovery can be an excellent way to meet new people, eliminate loneliness or boredom, and provide a sense of accomplishment. Engaging in self-care is an essential part of recovery. Self-care looks different for everyone; for some, it may be spending time outdoors, organizing yourself for the week, exercising, getting a massage or pedicure, or just spending some downtime alone. Anything you choose to keep your mind occupied and help alleviate cravings will be helpful to your recovery.
Develop a Support System
Developing a solid support system that supports your recovery efforts is essential in addiction recovery. Being around sober individuals or individuals that support your sobriety is also an effective way to not take that stroll down memory lane. Your support system could be from AA, NA, friends, family, coaches, sponsors, or anyone that supports your effort to maintain your sobriety. A strong team should include other individuals in recovery to serve as a reminder that you are not alone. Individuals maintaining recovery are also a great example that recovery is possible.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Be honest with yourself regarding your thoughts and emotions. Be honest with your support system so they can provide you with the support you need. Don’t delay asking for help. If you aren’t honest with yourself or your support system, no issues can be resolved, and you risk a relapse by keeping it to yourself. Your support system will not judge you, they care about you and are willing to provide you assistance to help you maintain your success. Seek help before seeking out drugs or alcohol.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help if Needed
Many individuals struggling with substance use disorders also suffer from co-occurring mental health disorders. Managing co-occurring disorders with a medical professional’s assistance can assist with managing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Working with a trained professional can also help you develop appropriate coping mechanisms and stress management skills and help with controlling urges to use drugs and alcohol. Reminiscing about past substance use is a normal part of recovery; however, ensuring you don’t allow it to lead you back to using drugs and alcohol is essential. If you are struggling to control these thoughts or urges, do not hesitate to contact us at 973-774-7222 for assistance.