An unfortunate amount of individuals who are attempting to completely change their lives and conclusively abstain from drugs and alcohol will experience a devastating relapse at one point or another. This means that despite an intense desire to stop using, the craving for chemical substance becomes too great to bear, and a combination of weakened defenses plus a physical and mental requiring of drugs are alcohol will inevitably lead to a moment of weakness that could potentially rapidly evolve into a full-blown return to the using lifestyle. There are many preventative measures one can take in order to avoid relapse, including maintaining a schedule that incorporates daily 12-step meetings and the acquiring of a sponsor early on in sobriety. Additionally, it is of utmost importance that a recovering individual maintain personal mental and physical health in order to protect him or herself against relapse.
Remember to Take Care of Yourself to Prevent Relapse
HALT is an acronym used prevalently in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step fellowships. The letters stand for: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. If you are experiencing any one of these dangerous symptoms, it is important to recognize the way you are feeling and remedy it as quickly as possible. Here are several ways to ensure you kick the feelings as soon as you begin to experience them.
Of course if you are hungry, the logical thing to do would be to eat. Yet before stuffing your face with cheesy poofs and donut holes, take a minute to consider which foods will actually stop alcohol cravings while they fill you up. Complex carbohydrates found in whole grain cereals, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables will help to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce cravings for alcohol. Dopamine-enhancing foods such as bananas and sunflower seeds replace dopamine levels that have fallen due to chronic alcohol abuse, and l-glutamine-enhancing foods such as raw spinach and parsley contain an essential amino acid that improves brain function and ability to sleep while decreasing anxiety and reducing cravings.
There are several exercises you may want to partake in that have been proven to greatly decrease anger in individuals who may grapple occasionally with loss of temper. Running in place for 5 minutes, screaming into a pillow, and taking a carton of eggs into a safe place (the woods, an empty parking lot) and writing something that angers you on each one before smashing it are all effective methods of efficiently and safely releasing anger.
One of the main reasons every individual in early recovery is urged to join a 12-step fellowship and choose a homegroup is so that he or she develops an instantaneous circle of sober supports. Having men and women who have been through similar experiences and who can relate to one another and to you on a deep emotional level is of utmost importance, seeing as you will always have someone to turn to for advice or to help you through a hard time. Work at forming connections with other AA members early on so you will have someone reliable to call when you start to feel lonely.
Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you have difficulty falling asleep once you lay down, try drinking chamomile tea or getting into the habit of reading before bedtime. Talk to your doctor or therapist about other natural sleep remedies that may work for you. Be sure to exercise daily so your body is physically tired when you lay down to sleep. If you are unable to get a full 8 hours and need a refresher during the day, there is nothing wrong with laying down for a quick catnap. Just be sure to take a nap several hours before bedtime so you don’t throw off your sleep schedule.
HALT – Stop And Consider the Way You Feel
Go to a coffee shop with a funny book, order a double shot of espresso and a croissant, and start chatting it up with the cute barista. Voila! You have kicked the symptoms of HALT in one fell swoop and ensured your sobriety for one more day.