Maintaining sobriety can be difficult for anyone who has struggled with drug or alcohol addiction. First, you have to physiologically recover from the chemical dependence caused by alcohol, heroin, methamphetamine, and most prescription drugs. This process is referred to as detox and it’s usually very physically taxing. Detox usually lasts 7-10 days and should always be conducted while you’re in a certified substance abuse detox center. Then, you have to go to rehab to work on your psychological state and to figure out what drove you to abuse substances in the first place. The rehab process can be very mentally exhausting because you’re working on changing yourself. Finally, after all that, you will leave rehab and go to a sober living house or maybe you will return home. This is typically when the trouble starts. People refuse to change their friends, their surroundings, or other factors which influence their recovery. However, if you follow the next three steps then you should be able to maintain your recovery in the long-term.

Learn Your Triggers

When you begin the path towards sobriety, you will eventually run into obstacles. You will need special tools to avoid a relapse. You will need to quickly learn to identify situations where your sobriety will be at risk. For example, a party with alcohol can be a major trigger for an alcoholic. Do not expose yourself to people, places, or things that will negatively influence your sobriety. Figure out what factors may trigger you. If you were drinking heavily to deal with feelings of loneliness, then make sure you always have people you can call or places you can go to avoid being lonely. This is why the AA and NA programs push sponsorship. Get signed up for AA or NA and get yourself a sponsor who you can call when things get bad.

Avoid Your Triggers

One of the first things you can do is to alter your environment so that you’re not around drugs and alcohol. Although some people may see these actions as a simple task, it can become very arduous for someone who is readjusting to “normal life” after treatment. For example, if you were a bartender prior to going to treatment for alcohol abuse then it goes without saying that you will need to quit that job! Avoid any tempting situations where you might want to drink or use drugs. If you are addicted to mind-altering substances like ecstasy, avoid clubs or raves where you know ecstasy use takes place. Socializing with people in certain environments is a bad idea! Don’t try to rationalize it to yourself either. Deep down you know the places and people whom you need to avoid.

Cope with Your Triggers

The fact of the matter is you can’t run and hide from life. You will be faced with triggering situations. You will feel guilty, lonely, and depressed at some point in your recovery and that’s okay. You just need to maximize your tools for coping with situations in the healthiest way possible. Avoid letting stress and other problems build up to a breaking point. Exercise, eat healthy, and maintain relationships with people who support you and your recovery. Cut negative, toxic people out of your life. Practice meditation, yoga, or other mindful stress reduction techniques. Map out a plan for what you plan to do if you become bored or angry. Are you going to call your NA/AA sponsor? Are you going to visit with your [sober] friends? Are you going to go for a run? Prepare to be triggered at some point and decide on a plan of action for dealing with the triggering feelings. This will help you feel better about facing any obstacles down the line.

Rehab is great for those who need to learn healthy coping skills. Therapists and addiction counselors work with you to help you verbalize what factors may be triggers for you. They can also teach you healthy ways to cope with anger, like counting to ten backwards instead of immediately blowing up.

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