Tag Archives: Relapse

7 Things That Could Derail Your Sobriety

You have gotten past a lot of hurdles to get sober. It’s been a tough road, but it’s been worth it. The following seven things could derail your sobriety and set you back at square one. Find out what they are and learn how to keep your sobriety in check.

  • 1. Being Around Friends Who Are Using

    You may think you can keep your old drug friends around because they promise not to use in front of you. But think about it. Can you really trust that they always do what’s in your best interest? People with drug addictions often say things they cannot back up with actions. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be helpful to you. They have lost control, and so will you if you stay around them.

  • 2. Losing Touch With Your Addiction Support Network

    Your support network could include your friends and acquaintances from AA, people you got to know in drug rehab, or maybe even your sponsor. It’s great to be in touch with close friends and family who really care. But you can’t lose track of people who know the real dangers of addiction. They can help catch red flags of relapse that others might miss.

  • 3. Deciding You Can Achieve Recovery Without Support

    Isolation is a close friend of addiction. It keeps you away from fresh ideas and perspectives. Human beings can easily over-interpret bad things or fail to appreciate the small blessings in life. Having other caring people around you keeps you reaching out instead of just looking inward.

  • 4. Quitting Drug Rehab Early

    There are certainly some people out there who have skipped out on part of their drug treatment, maybe more than once. If they found their way back to sobriety, it’s probably because they stuck with a treatment program and opened themselves up to the process. Give drug rehab a full chance and give yourself a full chance at sobriety.

  • 5. Avoiding Necessary Life Changes

    Let’s imagine that when you came out of drug treatment, you really avoided dealing with your money issues. If this was a big stressor during your active addiction days, it could still trigger relapse in the future.

    Whether it’s finances, legal problems, unemployment, or something else, your sobriety will go more smoothly if you face these issues head-on. Find someone to help you with these problems, make some changes, and the stress won’t be such a threat to your sobriety anymore.

  • 6. Letting Healthy Habits Slip

    In drug rehab, you learned or relearned many healthy habits. Eating right, getting good sleep, starting an exercise plan, and relaxation – these are all necessary parts of a healthy sober lifestyle. But it’s easy to let these habits slip away if you aren’t paying close attention. Join other people who exercise regularly, cook with friends, or set reminders so you can keep these important habits going.

  • 7. Losing Focus on Staying Sober

    Mental drift happens to everyone. You get complacent, you justify loosening your standards, and you hardly notice what’s happening. Pretty soon your sobriety is just one of those things rolling around in your mind. Keep in touch with your sober network and you’ll keep sobriety at the top of your list.

Keep This List as a Reminder

This article can be a great reminder list as you establish a healthy lifestyle. When you stay aware of things that threaten your sobriety, you can keep relapse at a distance.

If you feel that your recovery may be in danger, we can help. Our experienced recovery professionals are available, day and night, to take your calls. Recovery is within reach. Call us today at 760-548-4032.

Start the Journey Today!

760-548-4032

Addiction Relapse: Getting Back On Track

Your drug rehab counselor says relapse can happen to anyone going through recovery. Your recovery friends tell you that relapse is part of the process, it’s not the end of the world, and you can get through it.

That’s what they say, anyway. It sure feels like the bottom of a dark pit to you.

Your efforts with sobriety are not lost just because you’ve had a relapse. The positive changes you find in recovery are never lost.You just need to find your recovery again– it’s still yours and it’s still inside you. You may feel down and out now, but you are just one step away from getting your sobriety back on track.

Take One Step Back to Sobriety

Woman in hoodie on beachThat’s right, it just takes one step to get back on the path of sobriety. What is that step? It’s the decision that you are going to be sober for the next moment, no matter what it takes. Don’t think about next week, last month, yesterday, or tomorrow.

The next moment is all you need to focus on. Before long, the next moment turns into the moment after that, and the next five minutes, and the next hour. Whatever you need to do to stay sober for the very near future will get you through the worst of it.

Get in touch with a good sober friend and start talking. Go somewhere with a lot people where you can just walk around for a while. Get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air, maybe even some sunshine. Find some good music and soak it up. Do something that distracts you from the cravings, changes your mood, gets you out of isolation, or gets you away from your triggers.

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

Black-and-white thinking is a big part of addiction. Even when you are sober, this kind of negative, all-or-nothing outlook can make sobriety challenging. You may tend to look too far out into the future with many “what if” questions.

It will help you more to stay with your current moment of reality. When you get caught up in lots of worry about staying sober in the future, you lose sight of what you can do to be sober right here and now. The future will take care of itself. Stay where you have the power; you have power in the moment you are in at this very moment.

Rebuild Your Sobriety After Relapse

Take that one small step towards sobriety and slowly build your future again. Don’t let the emotional leftovers of your relapse take away the importance of this first step. It’s the beginning of your sobriety and it’s important. If you have trouble taking this first step, talk to a drug or alcohol rehab counselor for more help. You can call us anytime to learn more about getting and staying sober.

Drug Addiction Recovery: Filling the Void

When you stop using drugs, you begin to see the big, ugly gap you were trying to fill. This gap existed long before the addiction developed. In fact, it was probably a large part of the reason you began using drugs in the first place. There was a void or emptiness you didn’t know how to face or manage. You felt overwhelmed by your emotions or frustrated by a lack thereof. You tried to cover gaps so you wouldn’t fall into them. You tried to numb emotions or raise the right ones.

Addiction only made the void bigger and the feelings more powerful, but you couldn’t see that. Addiction wouldn’t let you see that. Now that you are beginning your recovery journey, the void is visible. And it is scary. Don’t worry! When you have the support of peers, loved ones and experienced professionals, there is always a person or a method on hand to help you fill the void.

Addiction and the Void

Addiction is closely tied to your thoughts and emotions. How you think and how you act are interrelated. When your thoughts lead to drug use, the action that was supposed to fill or at least hide a void only makes it bigger. Translational Psychiatry1 shares, “The prefrontal cortex has extensive connections with subcortical structures that regulate emotional processing, including the amygdala. Alcohol and drug exposure impairs emotion regulation in this region, with interconnected medial and cingulate networks showing enhanced reactivity to arousing stimuli and reduced capacity to suppress negative affect. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) also act to appraise and regulate negative emotions. These cortical areas over-activate in response to substance-related stimuli.”

This is a complicated way of saying drugs impair your ability to manage your emotions. If you turned to drugs to help you feel better or fill a void, you already didn’t know how to positively process or manage your feelings. Addiction only makes this worse. Luckily emotional regulation is a skill, and skills can be taught. You can learn how to look at and fill the void.

Start Where You Are

Woman with head in hand

Facing, much less filling, the void may seem overwhelming. When you begin your recovery journey, step back from the edge. You don’t have fall in. You don’t have to fill it at once. You don’t have to leap across it. Recovery is gradual. Your treatment team will push your boundaries and comfort zone, but they will never ask you to do more than you can manage. They understand that getting sober can be as scary as staying addicted. Psych Central2 considers this the most common fear related to recovery. They explain, “Getting sober means replacing your primary coping mechanism – drugs and alcohol – with new, unfamiliar ones. The process can be uncomfortable, particularly for someone who is afraid of feeling in general.”

There’s no denying that recovery is mentally challenging. You are facing a void you’ve been ignoring for a long time. You have to change habits, thoughts, and ways of acting that, if not safe, at least felt comfortable.

Change is a necessary part of recovery. However, you will never be asked to do more than you can handle. You aren’t expected to leap into the void of recovery feet first and hope you’ll be fine. You turned to drugs and alcohol for distraction and false feelings. You wanted a solution. You knew drugs and alcohol probably weren’t the best choice, but they seemed to work at first. You did the best you could with what you had and what you knew.

As Scientific American3 explains, “Recovery programs teach…fundamental principles of emotional regulation because addicts do not know them intuitively.” You don’t enter treatment knowing the right way to fill the void. You don’t enter treatment prepared to face the gaps in your life. If you knew how to do these things in a healthy, positive way, you would have already.

Recovery is here to teach you how to face the void. Peers and professionals gently guide you and help you develop the skills and strengths you need for recovery. Treatment teaches you how to not just fill the void but repair the gap that began it in the first place.

Pausing for Perspective

When the void seems too big or recovery too overwhelming, don’t give up. Pause and find perspective. Ask for professional support. The void won’t be, and can’t be, filled overnight. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can step back from things that are too difficult or painful to manage right now. This doesn’t mean you get to avoid coming to terms with experiences, memories, and feelings. It does mean you don’t have to face them all right at the beginning. It does mean you will never have to face them without support and understanding. Learn how to manage your emotions. Learn how to fix the gaps in your life rather than widen them with the wedge of addiction. Take the right first action, and the rest will follow. Call Michael’s House at 760-548-4032 for immediate support and information.

Start the Journey Today!

760-548-4032

1. http://www.nature.com/tp/journal/v7/n3/full/tp201734a.html. “Effects of naltrexone are influenced by childhood adversity during negative emotional processing in addiction recovery.” Translational Psychiatry. 7 Mar 2017. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

2. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/addiction-recovery/2014/06/6-common-fears-in-addiction-recovery-and-how-to-face-them/ “6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them.” Psych Central. 9 Jun 2015. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

3. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-emotional-sobriety/. “The Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety.” Scientific American. 1 Mar 2012. Web. 23 Mar 2017.

Managing Your Emotions is the Key to Sobriety

Addiction is an emotional disease. You may have turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to run away from your emotions. You may have found your emotions too painful or difficult to handle. Substances promised an easy escape.

However that escape ended up causing more emotional problems than it solved. Drugs didn’t make your life any better. They didn’t erase any emotions, and even if they buried them at first, they stopped doing so a long time ago. Sobriety is as emotional as addiction, but sober emotions are productive. They help you express yourself, process your experiences, and move forward in life. Substance use only takes you backwards. Sobriety isn’t about erasing emotions, as that is something no one can do. Sobriety involves learning to manage your emotions and to grow and become stronger as a result.

How Emotions Lead to Drug Addiction

Emotions lead to substance use. You may struggle with depression, anxiety or another mental health concern. You may face dramatic life changes or serious physical health issues. You may simply not know how to deal with everyday feelings. This is okay. You don’t have to know how to manage your mental health issue. You don’t have to know how to cope with the challenges that arise in any and every life. You just have to know that drug use isn’t the right answer. You have to reach out so you can learn. As Scientific American[1] explains,

“Recovery programs teach these fundamental principles of emotional regulation because addicts do not know them intuitively.”

If you struggle with addiction, you most likely struggle with managing emotions. This is normal. Treatment teaches emotional regulation skills for just this reason. You can learn how to healthily process thoughts and feelings.

How to Manage Emotions in Recovery

Managing emotions begins with learning how to do so. As mentioned above, treatment exists for just this reason. Therapists help you recognize unhealthy responses to feelings or situations. They help you develop positive processing and coping methods. This doesn’t mean you get to avoid emotions in recovery. You’ve tried doing that already with drugs or alcohol, and it doesn’t work. Managing emotions means learning how to experience them, accept them, move forward, and feel better. Treatment typically first teaches you distraction techniques. Distraction is not a permanent solution for emotions, but it helps you pause before having to process them. This puts time and space between you and potentially triggering thoughts or situations.

The Association for Psychological Science[2] shares, “Disengagement at an early stage can successfully modulate low- and high-intensity emotional information before it gathers force.”

Delaying–not avoiding–emotions helps you take the power out of them. It helps you keep emotions at a manageable level and to avoid impulsive reactions such as reaching for a former drug of choice. Treatment helps you develop an array of distraction techniques that will work for you. This gives you time and space to avoid relapse and manage your emotions rather than react to them.

Man listening to headphonesSome techniques for immediately managing emotions include physical activity or listening to music or watching a show. You can call up a friend or therapist and talk about how you feel or instead talk about anything but that. Consider doing the opposite of what you feel: forgiving someone if you are angry, telling a joke if you feel sad. Distraction and delaying are good ways to manage emotions and maintain sobriety. Avoidance is not. Distraction works so that you can reexamine emotions when they are less powerful, when you are more in control of your thoughts and behaviors.

At this later time, you can acknowledge how you feel or felt. You can feel embarrassed, cheated, lonely or even happy.  Once you acknowledge your emotions, you can do many things to keep them from taking over your life. Notice the thoughts that go along with these emotions. If they are negative, challenge them with something more positive. Tell yourself that your feelings will come and go and that feelings are a normal part of life. The more aware you are of your emotions, the better you can experience them, let them go, and move forward. You can remove their influence and keep your sobriety.


[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-emotional-sobriety/. “The Nuts and Bolts of Emotional Sobriety.” Scientific American. 1 Mar 2012. Web. 21 Mar 2017.

[2] http://people.socsci.tau.ac.il/mu/galsheppes/files/2016/10/Sheppes-G.-Scheibe-S.-Suri-G.-Gross-J.J.-2011.-Emotion-Regulation-Choice.pdf. “Emotion-Regulation Choice.” Association for Psychological Science. 29 Sep 2011. Web. 21 Mar 2017.

Blind Spots With Drug Addiction Keep You Trapped

You’re on the freeway heading toward your destination. You go to switch lanes, and you suddenly hear the blast of a car horn. Another vehicle was there in your blind spot. It feels like the other vehicle came out of nowhere.You just narrowly avoided having an accident. Drug addiction recovery has a lot in common with this example. You may think you are safe and everything is fine, but you may be putting your sobriety at risk. Please read on and see if you are ignoring any blind spots in your recovery.

You Hang Out With Old Friends Sometimes

Young men having lunchYou may think it doesn’t matter if you still see your old drinking buddy from high school on the weekends.The truth is, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. Old friends with addictions or substance abuse problems do not have your best interest at heart.

Your emotional ties will make you think you can make the relationship work. Unfortunately, you are likely to be proven wrong. Someone may say, “just one drink,” or you may start having cravings when you go to an old hangout. Before you know it, you may find yourself relapse right in the face.

You Don’t Go To Meetings Or Counseling Anymore

You may think that going to support meetings is pointless or that counseling doesn’t work anymore. Perhaps you need to take a slightly different perspective on this. You may be slipping into some typical addiction all-or-nothing thinking. This form of thinking is when seeing things as all good or all bad and allowing for no middle ground.[1]

If you aren’t in a meeting that feels like a good fit, you are less likely to stick with it. And if you felt like counseling wasn’t doing anything for you, take a look at why you stopped going. Was it really time for you to stop? Maybe your counselor was not a good fit and that lead to feelings of boredom.

Keep in mind that counseling and support groups aren’t really there to do things for you. They are opportunities for you to do things differently and learn about yourself. Getting isolated socially and mentally can take you right down the path of relapse. Contact someone you trust about this.Look into getting reconnected with the services and support you need.

You Have Quit Doing All Those Healthy Things From Rehab

In drug rehab, you learned different ways to help you stay sober. Some of these may have been foreign to you from the onset. Lifestyle changes include things like yoga, eating new foods, and getting active outdoors.

Now if you find yourself being pretty sedentary, eating plenty of junk food, and not getting good sleep, you are likely setting yourself up for trouble. Your drug addiction was at least partly based on your body’s physical sensations from taking drugs. When your body doesn’t feel that great, you may be tempted to get a zing from something you know will work – drugs and alcohol. Your physical health is closely tied to your mental health. Poor physical health brings an increased risk of depression and other mental health issues.[2] When you are depressed, you are more likely to turn to substance abuse as a way to cope.

Staying On Top Of Addiction Recovery Blind Spots

Nobody likes to admit they have blind spots. When problems trip you up, it can be tough to acknowledge that you should have known better. Pay attention to any potential blind spots so they won’t take your sobriety off track. If you are struggling, please feel free to reach out to one of our admission’s coordinators at Michael’s House. We are here to help you live a life of sobriety.


[1] http://www.mayo.edu/pmts/mc6000-mc6099/mc6064-12.pdf The Disease of Addiction: Changing Addictive Thought Patterns

[2] https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-relationship-between-mental-and-physical-health/ The Relationship Between Mental and Physical Health. Collingwood, Jane.