How to Fight Temptation in Recovery
For too many addicts in recovery, temptations mean relapse. While addiction is recognized as a chronic illness and relapse is a natural part of any chronic illness, avoiding relapse is possible and desirable. If you think about what lies at the heart of a relapse, it’s temptation. Something tempts you to use again. It could be a bar down the street where you used to drink regularly. It could be a feeling of depression or a sense of low self-worth. It could be a particular person you haven’t seen in a while. Whatever it is that tempts you to use again, take all possible steps to battle those temptations.
Avoid If Possible
The most important thing you can do in fighting the temptation to use again is to set yourself up for success. Especially if you are in early recovery, don’t test yourself. Don’t think you are strong enough to look a temptation in the face. Temptations are going to be all around you, so there is no need to go looking for them. Avoid the most obvious temptations by staying away from drugs and alcohol. Don’t go to bars or to parties where people will be drinking or using drugs. Stay away from old friends who are still using. Other temptations may be harder to detect, but once you are aware of them, avoid them.
Mindfulness is a great strategy for finding out what those under-the-radar temptations are. For instance, you may not immediately realize that when you feel most tempted to use again, you also feel stressed out by work or money or relationships. Stress tempts you to use, and when you realize that, you can avoid stress. You can use relaxation strategies to avoid getting worked up to a point that tempts you to use again.
Mindfulness has been proven to help people avoid relapse and it is a skill that you can develop. It means being aware of your feelings and your behaviors and how they interact. When you have the urge to use, stop and think about why. Tell yourself that using is not inevitable and that you have a choice. To really get into mindfulness, look for a therapist or a mindfulness learning group that can teach you how to use this effective strategy.
Never Face a Temptation Alone
You can’t always avoid temptations, and mindfulness is not a perfect strategy. It doesn’t work for everyone and it won’t necessarily work every time. Be prepared for situations in which you have no choice but to face a temptation. When mindfulness isn’t enough, have friends and family to support you.
What if you are invited to the wedding of someone who is very important to you? You know that people will be drinking, some heavily, and that it will be a huge temptation. But how can you not be there for the person you love? The answer is to not go it alone. Go with someone, or better yet a group of people, who know your situation and support your sobriety. Tell your supporters that you will be tempted and that you will need them to help you get through the event.
Temptation will be everywhere when you are in recovery from addiction. It will pop out right in front of you and surprise you and it will creep slowly out from the corners of your consciousness. Be ready to fight the temptation to use again by practicing avoidance and mindfulness and by relying on the people who care about you.
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