If an individual becomes overwhelmed with life’s problems, such as the loss of a loved one, unemployment, a failing marriage, physical health issues, emotional instability, or comorbid mental health conditions, he or she may attempt to self-medicate with prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol. Eventually, this pattern of substance abuse becomes increasingly compulsive, and addiction eventually develops.
Developing a Multi-Faceted Approach
Although the many strategies outlined as follows may be somewhat intimidating, it is crucial to realize that you do hold the power to control your life, happiness, health, and general well-being. You are not required to practice all of these techniques or attempt to engage in them all concurrently. The path to recovery will be a bit different for each individual, and hence, the combination of coping mechanisms that offer the most benefit will vary from person to person.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed by these approaches, you should consider them as components of an extensive toolkit, so to speak. Should a situation arise in which you need to use them, you’ll be prepared to perform them to stave off temptation and relapse.
Building a Support Network
The development of meaningful and supportive relationships can strengthen your sense of belonging, self-esteem, and self-awareness. You can re-kindle an old relationship or foster a new one. You only must understand that engaging in these positive relationships is an indispensable component of recovery.
Fruitful relationships can help to minimize feelings of loneliness and isolation and offer encouragement or voice concern if you wander from the path of recovery.
Join a Support Group
Many people in recovery find that participation in support groups is vital to sustaining long-term sobriety and preventing relapse. Whether faith-based or secular, these groups can provide you with the benefit of shared experiences through support. These interactions promote accountability, encouragement, and provide access to others’ coping skills used to good effect. These groups can also be the ideal place to meet new friends who have or are going through similar experiences.
Improved Interpersonal Skills
The quality of a person’s relationships, such as those with a spouse, children, other relatives, or friends, can improve how to create and honor boundaries and discover new, healthier ways to express wants and needs.
Communication skills training can serve to help you more specifically convey your needs and understand those of others, express your feelings honestly, and listen more effectively. When you’re grappling with substance-using thoughts, you need to be able to reach out to those who care most and tell them that you need help.
Religious or spiritual practices have been shown to provide significant benefits to those who participate during and after addiction treatment. These practices offer sources of hope, inspiration, motivation, and empowerment, and also provide another method of keeping yourself sober and accountable.
A person who is in the throes of addiction or fighting against relapse may find that their thoughts and feelings are trapped in the past or future. This state of mind can detract from the inherent power of the present moment. Mindfulness helps a person to be “present in the present,” and deal with issues as they occur “in the now.”
When one is successful at achieving this, he or she will be better able to accept the current circumstances and access the power, resources, and skills to deal with it or change it. Mindfulness has been shown to improve individuals’ self-control and temper impulsivity. These two skills are of significant benefit when a person is trying to cope with cravings or a potential trigger.
Avoiding high-risk situations is essential in protecting oneself from potential triggers. In addiction recovery, the acronym H.A.L.T.—Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired—is often used and can help a person take note of the most common states that can lead to thoughts of relapse. These are situations that might drive a person to use drugs or alcohol to relieve these feelings.
If you are unable to avoid a situation that makes you feel one of these ways, such as a particularly tough day of work, you can still be mindful and exert control over certain things. For instance, you can make arrangements to visit with a close friend on a day you know you’ll feel exhausted, lonely, or stressed to help boost your mood and strengthen your ability to prevent relapse.
Sometimes a challenging situation is wholly unavoidable. But instead of being reactive and resorting to the use of drugs or alcohol, you must be proactive and strategize your behavior and actions to achieve the best outcome. Rather than becoming overwhelmed, look to the root of the issue and see if something can be altered to reduce temptation or potential adverse consequences.
Practicing Refusal Skills
A person cannot always shield him or herself from risky situations and temptations. For this reason, you need to foster in yourself the confidence and ability to be assertive and say no. It may sound trivial, but practicing a variety of ways of saying “no” to substance use aloud may be beneficial.
Emotional Regulation Skills
Negative and unhealthy thoughts and emotions can wreak havoc on a person, leading to a state of mental imbalance that makes them more susceptible to substance use. Emotional reactions are found in most situations and cannot be avoided. Thus, a person must learn to regulate and control these reactions and cultivate positive behaviors.
Anger can be an extremely intense emotion that adversely affects the mind and a person’s physiological state. Heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure may rise and are associated with feelings of being out of control. Collectively, this state may cause you to attempt to manage these feelings through the use of substances.
Anger management can help people express anger in a more positive, assertive way that is not aggressive or confrontational. Therefore, it offers a greater opportunity to foster change and reduce the chance of verbal or physical conflict.
Stress Management Skills
Stress is a normal part of life, but occasionally people are unable to respond appropriately or will encounter situations that cause an undue amount of stress. By learning how to manage stress effectively, a person removes the opportunity for thoughts of using substances to arise and balance an emotional state to avoid further triggers that could cause relapse and perpetuate substance abuse.
Effectively managing stress may require counseling, family and peer support, exercise, and learning to face issues directly and actively instead of allowing them to accumulate and get out of control..
Participation In Enjoyable Activities
One of the signs of addiction is that the individual will often neglect activities that were once important or enjoyable to them. He or she will tend to dedicate increasing amounts of time and energy to the obtainment and use of substances.
Recovery is the time to reengage with these interests or discover new activities or hobbies that can serve as diversions and foster a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. There are a variety of hobbies that may pique your interest, such as reading, gardening, cooking, painting, crafting, sports, playing an instrument, or simply listening to music.
Develop Healthy Habits as an Outlet
As addiction becomes more severe, a person may forget about essential aspects of self-care. During recovery, adopting better habits is critical and allows you to take care of yourself, body, mind, and well-being. Healthy dietary choices and good nutrition can help restore wellness to the body while also avoiding hunger, leading to cravings for substances.
Exercise can also be a very effective coping mechanism. It releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals—and those which are also associated with the use of drugs and alcohol.
Getting Treatment for Drug and Addiction
Coping mechanisms can be learned through an integrated, comprehensive rehab program comprised of services beneficial for the recovery process, including behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, and group support.
Just Believe Recovery offers these services in a variety of formats, including residential and partial hospitalization. We provide those we treat with the support, education, and tools they need to exercise healthy, effective coping mechanisms and experience a fulfilling life free of substance abuse.
Contact us today and discover how we can help you plan your customized path to recovery!