It’s a Good Idea to Have a Plan
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Maybe you have heard that pithy quote before. It has been attributed to various people in various forms. But no matter who said it (or something like it), it is applicable to a whole range of life situations. For example, it applies to having a plan to avoid a relapse when you are in recovery from a substance use disorder.
Now, it might seem as though a plan for avoiding relapse would only have one step: don’t take drugs or drink alcohol.
In a perfect world, that would, indeed, be all there was to it. But here in the real world, a whole bunch of factors make staying sober difficult. Cravings, stressors, friends who are bad influences, disappointment, the simple force of habit, and much more can upend a plan that begins and ends with: don’t ingest substances that cost you your sobriety.
Checklist Goal: Avoid Relapse
So what should your relapse prevention plan include? Here’s a checklist of ideas.
Good mental health and sobriety go hand in hand. So your plan for avoiding relapse might include things like:
- Getting treatment (therapy, medication, or both) for any mental health disorder you may be experiencing
- Keeping a gratitude journal (or another sort of journal) to give an outlet to your thoughts and feelings and to remind you of the good things in your life
- Practicing mindfulness and/or engaging with a spiritual practice of your choosing
- Finding ways to reduce stress and avoid burnout
Your physical health is essential to your sobriety because when you feel well you are less likely to crave drugs or alcohol. As a bonus, most everything you do for your physical health has a positive effect on your mental health as well. Your anti-relapse plan could include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Spending time soaking in sunlight (in ways that are healthy for your skin)
One of the best ways to stay sober is to lean on a supportive network of friends and family. Your plan for ongoing sobriety might involve:
- Regularly attending 12-Step (or other recovery support) meetings and forging a relationship with your sponsor
- Rebuilding relationships that may have been damaged while you were taking drugs or drinking
- Ending toxic relationships that might undermine your progress
- Finding activities, hobbies, or volunteer opportunities that let you spend time with others who share your interests
Make This Checklist Your Own to Help You Avoid Relapse
These bullet point lists are not intended to be all-encompassing. Use them as a jumping off point for creating your own strategies and habits that support your sobriety and make it less likely that you will relapse. Once you have a checklist that will be useful to you, it might be helpful to keep the list handy so that you can easily check in with yourself—and so that you can quickly remind yourself of what you need to do when you experience a craving or feel overwhelmed. Having that personalized list of good options for making it through a difficult moment can be very helpful, indeed.
A Reminder: No Plan Is Foolproof
We wish we could say definitively that if you create a checklist and stick to it faithfully, then you will never experience a relapse. But unfortunately, we can’t make that sort of promise.
The fact is that relapse is common and is always a danger for a person in recovery. That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that a relapse is not the end of your recovery journey. It’s a setback, to be sure, but it isn’t a dead end.
If you experience a relapse, don’t crumple up your checklist and give up. Instead, head back to treatment, regain your sobriety, fine tune your lists of strategies and resources and goals, and try again.
If You Need Help, Check Us Out
At The Aviary Recovery Center, our to-do list is pretty straightforward: help people with substance use disorders recapture their sobriety and control of their lives. We do that through a medically supervised approach to detoxification and a personalized approach to rehabilitation that includes both individual and group therapy. We are ready and able to work with you to address any co-occurring mental health disorders, and we are committed to a continuum of care that provides you with resources and support during the early, challenging days of your recovery journey.
If you need treatment for a substance use disorder, you don’t need a long checklist to determine your next move. Get personalized, evidence-based, compassionate care at The Aviary Recovery Center.