Relapse is a process that begins when you start slipping back into old behaviour patterns. A relapse begins long before you take your first drink, drug or gamble. Some things that can lead to relapse include:
– feeling that you have the problem under control and taking a chance to use or gamble again
– not working out stresses and problems at home, work or school, and when these build up or a crisis happens, you go back usingor gambling
– not dealing with stresses such as problems with your finances, with your health, or with the legal system
– not handling negative feelings such as boredom, loneliness or anger
– giving in to cravings or urges to use or gamble
– when under stress you don’t see any other way to cope other than to use or gamble
– not working on your recovery plan or letting it slide (e.g. not going to self-help meetings)
To avoid relapse:
Your plans should involve handling feelings and problems as they happen. This way, pressure and stress do not build up. The stress you may already feel will only get worse if you put off dealing with problems with family, friends or work.
Keep your life in balance… a way to reduce stress. It is important to find ways to balance work and relaxation. Having fun with family or friends, without including alcohol, drugs or gambling, can be challenging. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself simple rewards that give you pleasure – a walk, time with a hobby, a chance to read a book. Writing out a plan for your day may help you find a balanced routine. Fill in free time with a variety of activities. Try a few new ones; you will find some you enjoy.
What you eat can affect how well you cope with pressure. Lots of good basic foods like fruit, vegetables, cheese, whole grain cereals and breads, fish, and meat help cut down stress. Food rich in B vitamins helps to reduce craving for alcohol and to keep stress manageable. Caffeine (coffee, soft drinks), nicotine (cigarettes, cigars) and too much sugar can make you tense.
Gain support and trust. Family, friends, your boss, a co-worker, a support group can talk with you about the pressures you are feeling in recovery. They can watch with you for the warning signs of relapse and help you handle the stress. Let them know your goals and your plans so that they can help you out.