Originally posted October 2016
Relapse often happens when we least expect it. Yet, there are many factors at work long before a relapse. You can be on the path to relapse weeks before it happens.
Our culture tells that someone is “triggered.” Hope For Addiction connects people with biblical truths to live life. The Bible tells us that, through Christ, we have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), even sobriety. So while “trigger” indicates that relapse “happens,” the Bible tells us that we are tempted, not triggered. When we see triggers for what they are, temptation, we are given the tools to fight temptation and actually find victory. Scripture tells us that Jesus knows our struggle and He is with us to help us fight. Temptation is common to everyone and we can count on God’s faithfulness to help us endure.
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
These truths, along with practical application will help you to identify the things that tempt you toward drug or alcohol use and will help you develop a plan to avoid a relapse event. Each individual has his or her own situations that cause a destructive thought process toward using.
The most common situations are:
Every relapse begins in isolation. Every relapse. There is no exception. When you are feeling like no one understands, or that you just want to be alone or you become too busy to build meaningful relationships within your support system, watch out. Be on guard for this. Be intentional to schedule time EVERY WEEK with the people in your support circle. This does not mean every conversation is about addiction. Regular social interaction is vital, learning how to relate with others, open your life to others and have fun without substances. This is an important piece in your sobriety and lasting change. If you don’t have a support system, contact us and we will connect you with people who aren’t afraid to jump into life with you.
Emotional situations are a considerable threat to relapse. Stress, fear, frustration, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and other emotions can lead to a relapse. Why? Because using drugs or alcohol is a way to cope or escape. Be aware of your emotions and get help from others to cope with your feelings and avoid destructive behaviors.
Another important area to guard is environment. Drastic changes must be made to avoid people and places that remind you of using or that generate an emotional response as stated above. Sometimes this means old friends and maybe even family members. It is necessary for you to make changes and spend time with people who have the successful life you desire and see “how” they live. Do what they do.
You should also avoid the places where you used to drink or use drugs. Going to parties where people are drinking socially can be a problem, especially early in recovery. Avoid these for a period of time and only hang out in alcohol- and drug-free zones. You may have to decline a party or get together when you know the temptations will be there. Avoid people who encourage you in your old way of living (i.e. “it’s only one, you deserve to celebrate, etc).
Beginning a new relationship early in recovery is unwise. You are just learning how to live, who you are sober and how to cope with “real” life. Adding the stress of a relationship is a sure path to relapse. Until you have an extended period of time in successful living (at least one year), new relationships should be avoided.
What are the things YOU need to watch out for?
What you can do when you feel like you might relapse:
Be Afraid. Do not trust your thinking.
Remember your thinking got you to where you are. Talk to someone you trust about what you are thinking and ask them if it is wise. If you are serious about change, you will ask someone you know will give you the answer you need, not the answer you want.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Proverbs 12:15
Be honest. Don’t pretend that you have it all together.
We all need help. We need reminders of truth when our mind, feelings and thinking is clouded.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9
Be prepared. Have a plan. Talk to someone about the plan.
Call a friend. You need an accountability partner you can trust, someone to walk things out with you. This is why we offer a weekly support group. Our group meets weekly but the accountability goes far beyond that. Our leaders and group members stay in touch daily if needed. Community with others is vital to recovery.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13
Be connected with a local church and support team.
You cannot tackle life or sobriety alone. This is a group project.
“While God always brings people together, Satan uses anger, guilt, and fear to separate. Such separation is the first step toward despair and the eventual domination by darkness. Addiction is not far behind. If an addict has not sought out the church - God's primary instrument of change - to bring its full resources to bear on his or her struggle, it is a danger sign. The pride, guilt, or resistance to living publicly that lies beneath this isolation from the body of Christ is a possible sign of an impending relapse, if the relapse has not already begun.” –Ed Welch, Addictions: A banquet in the Grave
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Think through situations you will be in ahead of time.
If you are attending a work party, decide ahead of time that you will not take a drink. If the temptation is too big, politely decline the event. Your life is at stake, so one party is not worth it.
Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20
Once you understand the things that tempt you to a relapse, you can be proactive to overcome. Be prepared with biblical truth. Celebrate another victory in your journey to lasting change, sobriety and a transformed life, knowing that God is faithful and it is HIS work in you.
Our purpose at Hope For Addiction is to walk alongside, equip and care for those who struggle with addiction. There is hope, and lasting change is possible.
If you are struggling and need help, contact us at 480.782.0403 or by Email