There’s more to recovery than abstinence. Challenging situations will pop up throughout your journey. In early recovery, many people work hard to avoid going places or seeing people that may trigger them. But that’s not often a workable long-term plan. 

For some, it may have to be if they are constantly triggered. Recovery needs to be the most important aspect of your life and protecting it is critical. For many, as time goes on, it’s not as necessary to avoid being in situations that at one time would trigger them because of the strength of their recovery, but self-awareness and self-protection are key to ensuring relapse doesn’t happen.  

Planning for People, Places and Things

In recovery, you may hear the expression ‘people, places and things’. You’ll also hear you don’t have control over them. But you do have control over yourself — the only control any of us will ever have. With summertime around the corner, triggers can be everywhere — outdoor patios, parks, barbecues, etc. If you’re concerned about the risk for relapse or triggering, don’t go. Or make a safety plan for yourself. 

It can be hard at any time during your recovery to see others enjoying themselves with a drink on a patio if that was your drug of choice. For most of them, it’s not an issue. But you’re not them — you’re someone who has an addiction. For long-term recovery, that’s something you can never forget. So instead of indulging in self-pity because you ‘have to be’ in recovery, be grateful that you are and make a plan to avoid tricky situations.

Remember HALT?

When you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, you’re vulnerable to relapse. Self-care is one of the weapons in your arsenal against your addiction. Go to a 12 step meeting or your support group, call up a friend who is in recovery or who is supportive, eat well, exercise and don’t skimp on sleep. If you’re upset about something, talk it out with your sponsor or a supportive friend in recovery instead of building resentment. 

Changing your patterns

Entering recovery, but stubbornly refusing to change any other destructive habits or patterns is a slippery slope which usually ends in relapse. You need to fill the void left in your life by abstinence with healthy choices — meditation, exercise, quality time alone, hobbies you used to enjoy, spending time with healthy friends are some of those choices.

Change isn’t always easy as you know from early recovery, but it’s necessary and unavoidable if you truly want to create a new life for yourself and maintain your recovery.