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Combat Relapse By Prioritizing the Things You Want to Do

Once you’ve done the hard work of recovering from a painkiller addiction, you want to keep going. There are many ways to keep improving yourself. Read on for some ideas for having fun, working on your health, and avoiding a relapse.

Eliminate stress

According to Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, poor self-care is the main factor in relapse. Above all, avoiding stress is an essential ingredient in continued recovery. Stress is often the reason people take up opiates or opioids in the first place. And stress can trigger physical pain like a headache or heartburn which, in turn, drive a patient to pain medications. Here are some good methods of reducing stress that don’t require any special training or equipment:

  • Be mindful of stress symptoms. Notice if your heart starts racing or your breathing accelerates. These are signs of stress. Just noticing them and observing that something is stressing you out will help you get back to a normal more quickly.

  • Talk to yourself about your stress. You can do this quietly in your mind, if you are in public, or out loud if you are at home. Self talk sounds too easy, but it works. Try saying something like, “Yes, I’m stressed out about this job interview, but I know how to cope with stress, and it’s not going to ruin my day.” Or “Why is my heart racing? People like me, and I have nothing to worry about.” Identifying the source of your stress and acknowledging your stress to yourself are both good ways to conquer it.

  • Breathe deliberately. A commonly-used breathing technique is to inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold for four seconds. You can adjust to five seconds or even six, if that works better for you. Focusing on your breathing this way takes your mind off everything that is worrying you. Breathing exercises are also a great way to fall asleep if you have trouble shutting off the day’s stimulation.

Keep a short chore list

A lot of the things people pressure themselves to do are optional. Things like decorating for every holiday, visiting in-laws, and going to club meetings might be fun. But if they are not, don’t feel you have to do them. Learn to tell people, “It will interfere with my recovery.”

People who fill their days with drudgery are at higher risk for a relapse. Do you really have to mop all the floors, or could you get away with just sweeping or doing a quick vacuum? Minimize housework and other chores.

Make a longer fun list

Now that you’ve freed up some time out of your list of obligations, it’s time to make a list of things that are fun to do. Things you want to do, like settling in with that thriller or autobiography that you’ve been aching to read or going for a hike or spending more time with your dog or cat.

A change of scenery can do wonders and distract you from cravings for pain medications. Some people will enjoy experiencing the sights and sounds of a busy city like New York or Beijing. Others will want to escape to nature and take a long hike through the woods or the mountains. Listen to your cravings for adventure and plan a treat that will transport you out of your old self and into your new self.

In conclusion, you can avoid relapse by taking good care of yourself. Do the things you want to do, not the things you think you have to do. Luckily, the things that help us avoid relapse are the same things that give us a richer life.

Article courtesy of:

Adam Cook

Addiction Web Archivist

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