8 Fantastic Strategies to Include in Your Relapse Prevention Plan
Discover the Healing Power in Gratitude and Forgiveness
You’ve Got This! And I’m Here to Help
“Happiness is not to be found at the bottom of a bottle or from the tip of a needle; it is not to be found amidst a cloud of smoke or within a sugar-coated pill. If you look for it in these places, you will find naught but despair.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman
Who Am I?
Hello, my name is Elizabeth Ervin. I’m studying for my certification in drug and alcohol counseling. However, my passion is coaching others about mindset and behavior changes that increase their chances of success in their sobriety.
How I got here
In the senior year of my BA (studying biblical studies and theology), I found heroin. Or, it found me. After several car accidents, my doctor prescribed me Percoset, and you know the rest of the story.
Being a single mother, working full-time, and attending college full-time was more than I could handle alone. My baby was growing up in daycare and I was exhausted trying to get to a place where that was no longer our reality.
My dependency on prescription narcotics grew into heroin addiction and I spiraled until I was homeless and a shell of my former self. I’d deserted my daughter into my parent’s care and abandoned all morale.
Desperate to not feel sick, I chased bags all day. After a few months on the streets, I decided to get sober. My daughter deserves her mother and it wasn’t fun anymore. I’m not sure that it ever really was. I celebrate my recovery from 09-27-2013. I can’t wait to celebrate yours!
My mission is to share HOPE. Recovery is possible. Sober is always better. I’m excited to be your friend in recovery. I know that you can do this and I am always here rooting for you!
8 Fantastic Strategies to Include in Your Relapse Prevention Plan
Okay, now that we have introductions out of the way, I can’t wait to share the 8 tips that I’ve had success with during my recovery journey.
Strategy #1: H.A.L.T.
One of the greatest weapons in your relapse prevention arsenal is understanding and using H.A.L.T. The acronym stands for Hungry, Angry, Tired, or Lonely. This tool serves to help you access why you are experiencing strong cravings. Or why you’re mentally consumed with ideas of relapse.
Stop and ask yourself, am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I lonely? I am tired? Write it down if that helps you. After determining that one of these feelings is causing these temptations, you’ll be able to handle that emotion with the relapse prevention plan you’ve put into place.
If accessing the situation doesn’t prove to be related to H.A.L.T., have a course of action for what to do next. For example, are you in a 12-Step recovery program? Your relapse prevention plan should include a meeting. Additionally, you would find a sponsor to reach out to when in need.
If you do not subscribe to the 12-Step method, what does your plan look like? Who is your support system? You don’t need to do the 12-Steps to stay sober but you need a support network in place. Who is that for you?
Strategy #2: Accountability
What does accountability mean to you? Your support network is great for holding you accountable. However, it’s vital that you take accountability for yourself as well. Part of taking accountability is by setting short-term and long-term goals.
Writing your goals down is necessary. This practice causes you to clearly define what you want. Your big WHY? As well as to create a plan on how you’re going to bring your goals to fruition.
Another effective method is by having an accountability partner. This can make the process easier. However, I wouldn’t partner up with someone who you might find yourself in a relationship with. Seriously, the last thing you need is a co-dependent romance setting you up for relapse. Rehab romances notoriously lead to relapsing.
Naturally, if you’re in a relationship or marriage that might not be true for you. For example, my husband and I were married before we partnered up and quit smoking cigarettes together. It was a glorious victory and it was made easier by having an accountability partner who was dedicated to quitting too.
Strategy #3: Answer the Difficult Questions
Trusting the process means facing emotions that may cause you to feel uncomfortable. Part of this process requires answering the difficult questions. You need to heal before you can move on.
You already know that avoiding doesn’t work. It often leads people right back to their vices. There are a few questions that everyone in recovery should answer for themselves. Defining these boundaries early in recovery will benefit your journey.
What would happen if you chose to use drugs or alcohol again? What are you doing to strengthen your recovery? Really think about the answers before writing them down. Be as detailed as possible in your answers. Not only will this reinforce what you want from recovery but it is a helpful tool to reflect on in the future.
I often find myself doodling around the edges with gel pens. Something about making it pretty creates a desire within me to hold onto it. I love pretty things.
My Favorite Gel Pens
Strategy #4: Gratitude
Have you ever heard the expression, “Cultivate an attitude of gratitude?” It is relevant to recovery. Gracious people are less stressed and generally happier. Starting the day with gratitude is my preferred practice. It begins your day with a positive attitude and that carries on into the day.
Ask yourself what are you most grateful for in your life? Who are the people you’re most grateful to have in your support network? As someone in recovery, you have a lot to be grateful about.
You’re here. You’re alive, and you’re getting healthy. Are you proud of yourself? You should be! Remember that every step of your recovery journey is your own. We all recover differently. So don’t let anyone take away from how far you have come.
Try to dedicate five minutes a day to expressing gratitude. Practicing gratitude daily reinforces the positives in your conscience. Ideally, it will pull you out of a place of negativity.
Really Cool Gratitude Journal for Women
Strategy #5: Forgiveness
You can’t experience healing without first expressing forgiveness. Carrying around anger, guilt, and shame is a heavy burden to bear. Forgiveness is the ultimate release from the bondage of these emotions.
When you hold onto personal guilt and shame it eats away at you until it manifests into another problem. It’s vital for your recovery that you forgive yourself. It is the ultimate sacrifice. Letting go of what used to be and what never really was, right? That wasn’t you. This is you. Right here, right now.
Let it all go and finally learn how to love yourself. If you refuse to do the work that forgiveness involves, you have a higher rate of relapse. Unresolved trauma and pain don’t disappear because you got clean. It’s necessary to work through your hardships.
My highest recommendation is that you seek professional therapy. It’s been remarkable at helping me see different perspectives and find forgiveness. Additionally, I’ve experienced significant mindset changes and release.
I’m blessed with insurance that covers therapy, but I know many of you don’t have that luxury. I’ve spent more of my life uninsured and never used the money to better myself. It’s crazy how we tell ourselves that we can’t afford therapy when at one time we were supporting a daily habit that costs us so much more.
Strategy #6: Speak Sobriety Into Existence With Affirmations.
Speaking recovery affirmations is a fantastic mental exercise that aids in changing your mindset. Furthermore, by speaking these words out loud, you’re manifesting their reality. Did you know that?
Affirmations work because by repeating the same statement over and over, it becomes powerful and authoritative. Your conscience will start to believe the words you’re projecting onto yourself. It’s an incredible phenomenon.
A brief warning about toxic positivity, it sucks! So it’s important that your affirmations genuinely acknowledge your circumstances at the moment.
Generic affirmations such as, “I’m beautiful, and I’ve got this,” aren’t authentic. Instead try, “I’m strong enough to handle what comes my way today.”
Strategy #7: Write a Letter to Yourself
Write a letter. What would you say to yourself in your lowest moments to keep you from using or drinking again? This is an extremely important and effective relapse prevention tool. If you use it. It allows you to reflect on your own warning before committing to a relapse. Here is a sample of questions to consider.
Think back on the times that you have hurt yourself while using drugs and/or alcohol. What did that feel like? Why don’t you want to feel that way again? How did you behave? Did you behave in ways that are not who you are sober? Were you being your best self? Is that who you want to be?
Who did you hurt when you were using? How did you feel hurting them? What would happen to those relationships if you started using or drinking again? Don’t run from those emotions. Document them in your letter. They might save your life by revisiting them one day. Don’t dismiss this as a silly exercise.
Remember that this tool is for your strength in darker times. Life always has its seasons. So keep it in a safe place that you will remember. It’s a common practice used in recovery. Furthermore, it’s a beautiful act of loving yourself. Which is a necessary step to overcoming addiction.
How to Write a Letter to Yourself to Prevent Relapse in Recovery
Strategy #8: Prayer Journaling
I’m experiencing tremendous success with prayer journaling in my recovery. You can journal for yourself, or for manifestation practices if you don’t acknowledge God in your sobriety. However, prayer journaling is the foundation of my recovery. So I’m excited to share that with you!
Prayer journaling creates an intimate and personal relationship with God. Your higher power and your higher self. It’s a place where you can express your fears and ask for courage. Spend time asking for what you want and need in your life. Be specific with the details.
For example, don’t simply state, “Lord help keep me sober.” Instead try, “Lord thank you for keeping my mind, my heart, and my actions focused on my sobriety. I’m keeping you at the center of my recovery, and am blessed by the support network you’ve brought into my life. Thank you, Lord.”
One of the best parts about prayer journaling is that you get to look back and see where God has blessed you in answering them. I’m convinced I prayed so hard for my husband he had no choice but to fall in love! Looking back on those prayers and seeing the things the Lord put onto my heart before I even knew what I was praying about is astounding. You begin to see the big and the little ways that God works in your life. You’re own personal miracles.
You Can Do This
These strategies have proven to be successful in my recovery journey. I’m thrilled to share this value with you!
The Relapse Prevention Plan includes 20+ beautiful pages to practice and document your own successes. Complete with medication and recovery meetings trackers. A (value of $12) FREE for you today!