6 Ways to Guard Against Relapse when Transitioning Back to Living Alone

People who have been in residential treatment centers for amphetamine addiction often have mixed emotions about returning to life on their own. They may be excited about moving on and putting their new skills into practice, but it is also natural to be nervous about the possibility of relapse. Planning ahead and preparing for success is important. Some of the ways in which people can guard against relapse when returning home include the following:

  1. Prepare Your Home for Success

Substance-use cravings can be triggered by environmental cues. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that this may be due to activity in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. Substance use cues may initiate a response that makes neurons more sensitive to certain incoming signals and leads to an impairment in the ability to compare alternative courses of action.

The most obvious cue is the sight of something associated with the prior use of drugs or alcohol. This can be things like wine glasses and drug use paraphernalia, but could also be a chair that was frequently used. Other sensory input can also trigger cravings.

Sometimes it is wise for people to start a new sober life in an environment not associated at all with prior substance use. When people decide to move to a new home after rehab, it is important to be intentional about choosing a location. An apartment or house located near a liquor store is probably not the best choice, or one in a neighborhood where drug use is common.

When people decide not to move, it is wise to change the home environment to minimize substance use reminders. This may involve re-arranging or changing furniture pieces. When the environment looks different, it can be a cue to the subconscious mind that things have changed.

  1. Initiate New Rituals

Substance use often has associated rituals, such as those involved with acquiring and preparing a drug. It can be helpful for people in recovery to initiate new rituals associated with healthy habits. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network notes that positive rituals can improve the functioning of brain structures that help balance our stress systems.

Rituals in recovery may involve such things as meditation, exercise, journaling and creative pursuits such as drawing or playing a musical instrument. It is important that they be enjoyable and engaged in habitually. Some people suggest involving as many senses as possible when creating rituals to displace substance use. The sense of smell may be involved by diffusing essential oils or preparing a fragrant drink such as coffee or cinnamon tea. Drinking coffee or tea can also involve the sense of taste, as can sucking on a mint. The sense of sight may be engaged by setting out flowers, photos, or other things that produce a sense of joy or peace. Hearing is involved when music is played, and the sense of touch can be invoked by such things as a relaxing bath or kneading dough.

  1. Develop Accountability

During rehab, accountability to counselors and fellow patients is an important element of treatment. It is vital that a degree of accountability be maintained after the active phase of rehab has been completed. Regularly attending addiction support groups is an obvious way to help address the issue and it is also wise to have regular contact with a support group sponsor or mentor.

  1. Find a Comfortable Level of Activity

Both stress and boredom can be relapse triggers, so finding a degree of activity that avoids both is important. It may take some experimentation and trial and error to find sober, enjoyable activities, but finding them, and a sober social support network, is vital.

  1. Take Care of Your Physical Body

Addiction is a disease that damages the body and brain, and both need to be healed. Caring for the body involves being intentional about nutrition, sleep, and exercise.

  1. Plan Ahead for Cravings

There are relapse prevention skills that can be used when craving hits. It is important to be well versed in these skills and to have a plan for combatting times of temptation. Urge surfing involves understanding that most cravings last less than 30 minutes and may increase in intensity like a wave, but then subside. A 2011 Psychology Today article reports that smokers who received brief training in urge surfing cut back their cigarette usage by 37% during the next week. Distraction can also be a helpful tool for combatting cravings. It is important to think through options for various scenarios. Is there someone, such as a sponsor provided through an addiction support group, who can be called in the middle of the night?

We Can Help

If you are struggling with amphetamine addiction and are ready to start your recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We understand the issues and can help you find a treatment program that meets your needs. We can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. You can change your life, and we can help.