The Most Important Skill To Avoid Relapse!

I was listening to a recovery pod cast by Bob Earl, a very charismatic AA speaker, known for courageously facing childhood issues in recovery. He said that learning to handle our feelings is the most important skill to avoid relapse. It seems kind of simple but is it true? 

How addiction starts

Addiction begins when you use substances to avoid the painful parts of life you may not want to face. The cycle of using alleviates the pain.

That's why it's so hard in recovery when feelings hit! We aren't used to having to deal with them - and let's face it most people in early recovery would rather just avoid them!

The more substances are used to escape, the more dependent you become on them to cope. It becomes a vicious cycle of shame that seems impossible to stop. 

What if the addict hits bottom and enters recovery? The assumption is that everything is now fixed. Family and friends are confused when the same problems keep happening.

The stress of living sober is a huge adjustment for the entire family and though active participation in AA is essential, it does not show how to handle the feelings underneath the addiction. 

Starting recovery 

Working the steps with a trusted sponsor is the first step in facing the past. The steps teach valuable principles that encourages accountability and humility.

The slogans such as One day at a time, Live and let live, Easy does it and This too shall pass are lifesavers in moments of pain.

Professional help is recommended if there is depression or anxiety that doesn't improve in recovery. If there is a history of trauma, recovery can be more difficult than it needs to be. 

When uncomfortable feelings start to surface, you may feel overwhelmed because the substances used to numb them. Avoiding feelings can lead to relapse. Finding healthy ways to handle emotions is essential for recovery to work. Learning the tools to avoid relapse - or see the signs before they hit can keep your recovery from getting derailed.

Tools to help

Often, clients stuff feelings or blow up in anger. They don't recognize them until they are boiling over. Rate your stress level from 1-10, one being no stress at all, and 10 feeling out of control throughout the day. Just the simple act of paying more attention to them can help.

Another great tool is exercise as a way to alleviate stress. Those endorphins can improve mood and decrease anger!

Telling someone how you feel can provide a surprising sense of relief. It's pretending everything is okay is what zaps your energy.

Writing in a journal or sharing honestly at meetings can provide a much needed outlet. Just the act of being heard is healing.

Isolating contributes to depression and relapse, so meetings are a vital way to stay connected. Find a few trusted friends to talk to and support each other. It's a we program so the purpose is to do the program together.

Learning to deal effectively with emotions can protect you against relapse. If you are concerned that you or someone you love may relapse, please call or text or email me.