5 Tips for Avoiding Summer Relapse Urges
Living a happy, healthy and sober lifestyle comes with its own unique set of challenges, especially for those new to recovery. Developing coping mechanisms to avoid relapse urges such as triggers and cravings, is a must for anyone dealing with dependency issues.
Triggers can be anything that remind someone in recovery of their past substance abuse. These associations can create stress, which often lead to cravings.
Cravings are a physical and chemical response in the brain, a release of dopamine, which result in a compulsion or urge to use drugs or alcohol. In full swing, cravings are difficult to combat, and without the proper awareness and techniques, many recovering addicts fall prey to these urges that end in relapse.
As with the holiday season, the Summer months from June through the end of August are full of temptations that can result in relapse for many people.
Summer in the United States is also typically when most families enjoy a vacation together. As anyone who’s traveled with family understands, these outings can be incredibly stressful, even though the goal is to relax, unwind, and spend time together. Vacations can be expensive and there’s often a large amount of travel time in close quarters, either in the car or in a plane. Restless children and adults might find themselves arguing at times over where to eat, where to go next, or simply “when will we be there.” Time away from work can create worry about one’s responsibilities, as well as the dread of returning to the job.
Here are 5 Tips for Anyone in Recovery to Avoid Relapse During the Summer
1. Set Boundaries
Remember the acronym H.A.L.T. Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Practicing this principle helps keeps stress levels in the brain to a minimum, which is important in avoiding triggers and cravings.
2. Pace Yourself
Understanding the challenges of travel ahead of time can help limit the amount stress they create. If possible, carve out quiet time while on vacation. This can be as simple as five to ten minutes in the morning where you can reflect on your state of mind and focus on positive feelings.
3. Stay Flexible
If going on vacation is potentially too stressful for someone in the early stages of recovery, scheduling a series of fun, but less complicated weekend trips with family or friends might be a better alternative. Simply staying in one place can be relaxing as well. Don’t feel as if you can’t alter your plans to avoid risky situations or events, even if it will disappoint others. Staying sober is the most important thing.
4. Plan Accordingly
Take the time to plan your summer activities around the healthiest and least stressful activities possible. If summer brings about a sizeable amount of downtime, it might be good to take a class, learn a new skill, or possibly take up a new hobby. Setting a specific and achievable three-month goal, such as reading a certain number of books or exercising on a more consistent basis, can also be rewarding and useful during this time.
5. Listen and Believe In Yourself
Don’t risk a relapse by ignoring your instincts. Recognizing feelings of stress and fear before they overtake you helps derail cravings to abuse alcohol and drugs. Check in with yourself during quiet time, be aware of any situations that are causing anxiety or worry so that you can avoid them.
Developing these five relapse prevention skills can help this season be a time of renewal that you can look forward to even more in the summers to come.
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