As we discussed in last week’s post, summertime can present unique challenges when it comes to living a life of sobriety. Triggers and the potential to relapse are always around, but warm weather and abundance of sunshine make them all the more relevant.
The added social pressures and frequency of being around people found during the summer months can put you in a position where common relapse triggers are closer than ever. In order to actively avoid these triggers it is vital to understand and recognize the five most common causes of relapse.
Stress is a difficult emotion to understand and is often the feeling that drives people to reach for alcohol and other vices in the first place. Coping with stress in this way is common throughout society and thus makes it very easy to be pulled back into old habits.
People or Places from Your Past
Seeing people and places from your past often brings up problems you dealt with while you were around those people or places. Unfortunately even family members and close friends who are aware of your life of recovery can cause a relapse.
Similar to stress, negative emotions can lead people living a life of recovery towards relapse. In the past you had used substances to cope with these negative emotions but you can no longer rely on that crutch anymore.
Being around vices at all, let alone the vice from your past that lead you to a life of recovery can be troublesome to say the least. A whiff of a cigarette or seeing people with alcohol can lead to a relapse and these things seem to be everywhere.
Times of Celebration
Times of celebration can tie all of the above triggers together making it a very common situation for a relapse. At a celebration you will likely see people from your past, be surrounded by vices, and feel stress or negative emotions.
Avoiding Relapse and Triggers in The Summer
These triggers and causes of relapse are relevant and common all year round, but they are far more common and unavoidable in the warm summer months. Walking through a public park may force you to come into close contact with a vice from your past, summer holidays and weekend get-togethers will certainly force you to see someone or something from your past, and all of this can lead to stress or negative emotions.
While all of this sounds overwhelming there are a few things you can do to actively avoid the triggers around you and help you have a great time and enjoy the summer.
Find a Personal Support System
Entrusting a close friend or family member to accompany you to events or situations that you are stressed about is a great first step on your mission to avoid relapse. When selecting this person you should do your best to find someone that truly understands your journey and considers your own feelings before their own when they are with you.
This person or people will help you stay calm when stressed, provide an out for you at parties or other events, and overall will just help you stay focused on your journey.
Keep a List
Keeping a list of your known and hypothetical triggers sounds obvious but is a great way to stay on top of your triggers. Simply knowing and thinking about situations that may lead to a relapse is a great way to proactively avoid finding yourself in tough situations.
Find a Professional Support System
While personal support systems are accessible and comfortable they work best when backed up by a professional support system. Whether this professional setting is in a group or more one on one with a therapist it will not only help you avoid your triggers but also help you learn and grow on your journey to sobriety.
Actively Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Living a healthier lifestyle is hugely helpful to everyone’s lifestyle but it adds another level of value to those living a life of sobriety. Unfortunately it can be difficult to dive into a life of diet and exercise. Most people set lofty goals right off the bat and end up burning out and falling back into old lifestyles. Instead of setting these lofty goals, it is far more valuable to set short term goals that are easy to attain and build off of.
Start today by taking a walk around the block or cooking at home instead of going out to eat. These seemingly easy goals will then quickly turn into a daily jog and a more natural diet. As you start to feel better and better your days of abusing substances will seem further and further in your rearview, helping you avoid relapse.
Think About Pros and Cons
Using the simple logic of pros and cons of using a substance when triggered can help you think logically instead of emotionally, helping you to make the right choice. If you find yourself triggered and considering relapsing it is vital to think about and even write down everything that is better about your life now that you are sober. This time will help you slow down and avoid relapse so that you can continue on your journey to recovery.
How to Avoid Relapse and Triggers Especially During the Summertime
As you continue to navigate the fun but treacherous summer months make sure to identify your own personal triggers and come up with a plan to avoid relapse. The above guidelines are a great place to start but only you and your support system can be experts on your personal journey. With these plans in place you will slowly be able to boost your social life so that you can continue to be healthy and happy.