3 Helpful Exercises & Activities to Combat Relapse Temptation
The statistics on relapse rates for addicts are not encouraging. Studies show some 40 - 60% of addicts relapse within the first 30 days of leaving an in-patient facility, and 85% relapse within the first year.
For some substances, like opioids, the relapse rates are even higher. One study showed that 91% of opioid addicts relapsed after entering recovery, and of those, 54% relapsed within one week of getting sober.
Suffice it to say relapses are common, and while they are a setback, they don’t mean that you’ve failed. The key is to pick yourself up and try again. So if relapses are so common, what can you do to combat that temptation? Here are some exercises and activities to combat relapse.
1. Change Your Mind
One of the biggest things that can prompt a relapse is negative thinking patterns, particularly fearful thoughts. Addicts fear many things: Being judged, being discovered as a fraud, not measuring up, and even being successful, only to have it ripped away.
But these are old fears, and they haven’t served you well. Dealing with old emotional triggers is an important element in combating relapse. The first stage is recognizing the triggers, the second stage is exploring the original wound that created them, and finally, healing that old wound.
This can take time, but in the meantime, once you know what your triggers are, you can take steps to avoid those situations or people that cause them and develop alternative coping strategies to being triggered that are healthier than drug or alcohol use. Reaching out to sobriety partners, calling on your support network of friends and family, exercising, or going for a walk in nature are all possible alternatives.
2. Fun Has a New Definition
Another common relapse temptation is that most addicts associate fun with drinking or using drugs. That’s why it’s extremely important for addicts to redefine fun and find different, healthier activities to enjoy doing instead.
This requires having friends and family who support that effort. It won’t do to have a party and simply offer non-alcoholic drinks while the addict watches everyone else drink alcohol. To really support them, family and friends need to engage in sober activities with their addicted loved one.
Doing so will help them to redefine fun in a way that won’t tempt them to use their substance of choice. This might mean organizing nature hikes, going for a refreshing swim, or doing other activities that challenge you without involving drugs or alcohol, like an escape room adventure or taking lessons in painting.
3. Develop New Coping Strategies
It sounds cliche, but it really works. Addicts need new coping strategies to replace drug or alcohol use. Here are a couple of ideas that you can implement when temptation strikes:
Journal your thoughts and feelings related to what’s tempting you
Exercise instead, even if that just means going for a short walk
Meditate on what you’re experiencing and process those emotions
Draw your feelings to help move through them
Call an accountability partner
Go to an AA meeting
Try Sober Sidekick!
Recovery won’t be easy for any addict, but it will help you find your happiness again, and it is worth the effort. Relapses are common, but Sober Sidekick can help. Sober Sidekick is just like what the name sounds like – it’s your wingman, wing woman – or wing app? – for sobriety.
It’s a social media platform and app with over 150,000 recovering addicts who are there to provide loving, nonjudgmental support whenever temptation strikes. You can call your accountability partner, reach out to the general community, join a virtual AA meeting 24/7, and/or reach out to an addictions counselor whenever you need to. Give it a try today to stay sober!