Successfully completing a program for drug addiction treatment doesn’t guarantee lasting success. In fact, a significant number of individuals contending with these issues experience relapses, which is an inherent part of the addiction cycle. Recovery is a lifelong journey, and mastering the right coping skills for substance abuse is crucial. To maximise your chances of success, it’s essential to understand how to identify triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms for substance abuse that help you resist the temptation of turning to drugs or alcohol as a way to alleviate distress.
Triggers, notably, elicit emotional, social, or environmental responses that remind an individual of their past struggles with substance abuse. These triggers often lead to cravings that can result in a relapse. Triggers can be classified as either external or internal. For instance, a trigger might be a person, a place, or a scent that evokes memories of prior negative behaviours, ultimately pushing a person toward unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Associating with individuals who were part of previous drug or alcohol use: Spending time with people like a former drug dealer, a friend, or a coworker who shared your drug use history can trigger negative emotions.
Visiting locations where past drug use occurred: Frequenting places like bars, clubs, restaurants, or a friend’s house where you once indulged in your old habits can rekindle those memories.
Attending events where alcohol or drugs are present: Weddings, concerts, or gatherings where alcohol or drugs are available can trigger cravings.
Revisiting the places where drugs or alcohol were stashed: Opening a specific drawer or closet where you once hid your substances can stir emotions tied to your past drug use.
Encountering objects associated with drug use: An empty pill bottle or drug paraphernalia can evoke the desire to indulge in negative behaviour.
External triggers are particularly perilous as they can subconsciously lead a person to desire drugs. On the other hand, internal triggers are even more challenging, as they evoke emotions linked to substance abuse and provoke intense cravings. It’s important to recognise that triggers aren’t always associated with negative emotions or situations. For example, an individual might celebrate a job promotion with drugs or alcohol. Identifying and understanding these triggers is a fundamental coping skill for substance abuse recovery.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Coping skills are essentially strategies used to manage stress and challenging situations. While they may not serve as long-term solutions, they help individuals navigate distressing experiences and situations that could otherwise lead to harmful behaviours. Unfortunately, many individuals develop unhealthy coping mechanisms for substance abuse, which can ultimately cause more harm than good.
Avoiding Negative Influences
During recovery, it’s crucial to distance yourself from old acquaintances who were part of your previous substance abuse habits. It’s wiser to focus on individuals who offer positive support and maintain healthy boundaries with your former friends and places that remind you of your old habits. One of the vital coping skills for substance abuse recovery is minimising contact with those who may inadvertently encourage your past negative behaviours.
Concealing emotions, which may seem like a way to make them disappear, often results in unhealthy behaviours. Bottling up emotions can cause people to withdraw and seek alternative means of relief, such as drugs or alcohol. Rather than suppressing your feelings, it’s essential to maintain open lines of communication as a healthier way to cope.
The Significance of Positive Coping Mechanisms for Substance Abuse
After completing treatment for drug addiction, adopting positive coping skills is crucial for maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse. Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can learn to adapt and navigate social situations without resorting to drugs or alcohol. Counselling during addiction treatment helps individuals recognise patterns that lead to problems and the essentiality of identifying dangerous triggers. Some common triggers that affect many individuals in recovery include:
- Neglecting self-care
- Isolating from friends or family
- Dwelling on negative thoughts
- Coping with stress
- Denying the problem
- Relapsing into old habits
Nine Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Drug Recovery
As previously mentioned, individuals often resort to negative coping strategies during recovery. However, to maintain sobriety and enjoy a more fulfilling life with better overall well-being, there are healthier coping skills for substance abuse that can be employed:
Practice Honesty: Instead of bottling up emotions, be honest when feelings of anxiety or stress arise. Being open and accepting of these emotions allows you to acknowledge their normalcy and move forward.
Meditation and Mindfulness: Many treatment facilities, such as The Owl’s Nest, teach patients how to meditate and stay present in the moment. Deep breathing techniques and various meditation exercises clear the mind of distractions and enable individuals to observe their internal experiences. Lowering stress and anxiety levels significantly reduces the risk of relapse.
Engage in Group Therapy Sessions: Active participation in group therapy connects individuals with others experiencing similar cravings. Attending group sessions or individual therapy helps individuals stay on track and deal with negative emotions. For those grappling with other mental health disorders simultaneously, seeking help from a mental health professional is essential.
Build a Support System: Having a dependable support system throughout your recovery journey is of utmost importance. The recovery process is ongoing, so maintaining healthy relationships with people who understand your needs can significantly aid in long-term sobriety. This network should encompass friends, family, and others working to overcome drugs and alcohol.
Start Journaling: Journaling provides an excellent means to express your thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. Putting your feelings, fears, thoughts, and setbacks onto paper enables you to document your progress and gain insight into your journey to sobriety.
Prioritise Self-Care: Drug misuse often leads individuals to neglect their health, exacerbating the cycle of addiction. Proper nutrition and regular exercise are essential for maintaining positive coping mechanisms. Exercise releases endorphins, the brain’s natural “feel good” chemicals, promoting a sense of well-being without relying on synthetic substances.
Establish a Routine: Drug misuse can introduce chaos into one’s life, resulting in heightened stress and anxiety. To effectively manage cravings, it’s vital to establish a daily routine and adhere to it. While unexpected events may still occur, having a regular routine provides structure to your life, making it easier to maintain balance and cope with minor setbacks.
Engage in Enjoyable Activities: Discovering hobbies and activities that bring joy to your life can be profoundly rewarding. Completing projects and achieving a sense of accomplishment shifts your focus away from drugs or alcohol. This redirection helps individuals appreciate the meaningful aspects of life.
Practice Gratitude: One of the most effective coping mechanisms to learn in recovery is gratitude. Acknowledging that others also grapple with personal struggles can help you maintain perspective. Gratitude reminds you of what you have and makes it easier to turn away from drugs and alcohol.
How White River Manor Can Help
We offer our guests individualised programs and luxury individual care at White River Manor. In collaboration with the client, our team of highly qualified therapists, medical professionals, and dependency specialists work to design a program to restore balance and well-being in our guests’ lives.
If you’d like to talk to us about treatment options and how we can help you recover, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our intake team.