Addiction is a disease of the brain much the way that any other disease affects your brain or body. Like most diseases that progress gradually, relapse also happens in stages. Many health professionals now recognize that a stage of mental relapse always precedes the actual behavior of re-using drugs and alcohol. There are some good habits you can learn that can help prevent you from relapsing.
What Makes People Relapse?
Most people who seek treatment are not seeking detox. By the time they seek professional help, it is most likely that they have already tried to quit on their own. What they really need is relapse prevention for the long term.
Mental relapse happens in stages: first, cravings reemerge for drugs or alcohol. Then, you may experience thoughts about people, places, and things associated with your past addiction. The mind begins savoring those moments.
What happens next is that the mind tries to minimize the knowledge of the harmful consequences of addiction while savoring or even glamorizing past moments of “pleasure.” Then, you often enter into a phase of bargaining, an inner split or conflict over whether re-use is good or bad. The cravings can lie and deceive you into using drugs and alcohol again. These and other stages can and will all happen before you ever physically give in to temptation and use again.
Because you are now familiar with these stages of mental relapse, you can prevent relapses by recognizing the early signs and getting intervention as soon as possible. These signs can assist you in designing a lifestyle that integrates healthy coping skills so that future relapses can be fended off now.
Curing the “Addictive” Mindset
One of the most challenging tasks is to cure the “addictive” mindset. Cognitive therapists often guide people to recognize the negative thinking behind their patterns of addiction. For example, addicted individuals have a different mental definition of what fun is. You may now or once have considered addiction “fun” and recovery “too much work.” When you savor your using days as “fun,” you often downplay the harmful effects of addiction.
The early stages of substance use can be a positive experience for some, but long-term addiction to drugs and alcohol will surely put a drag on your health and family relationships. Even when the negative effects become obvious, people caught in substance use disorder still find it difficult to overcome on their own. This is the addictive mindset speaking, saying that you need drugs or alcohol to have fun or that you’re not worthy or strong enough to be without those substances.
Another challenge the addictive mindset brings about is curing boredom. As an addicted person, you may have a difficult time sitting with boredom. When you are bored, drugs and alcohol may be your cure-all. Boredom is another primary trigger to relapse even for people who have achieved sobriety. Because of this, it’s a good idea to get involved in recovery groups and develop hobbies and habits to prevent idleness and boredom.
A Good Diet Helps Reset Your Brain
Since we can observe how addiction in the body affects the mind, then it follows that resetting your health in your body will guide your mind on healthier paths as well. Nurturing good habits is the best way to retrain your body to find a healthy rhythm. After battling with addiction, these habits may sound mundane and awful, but following a mundane routine allows your body to calibrate to natural and healthy rhythms.
The first healthy habit to implement is having a well-balanced diet. When you fuel your body properly, everything else will become easier from sleep to exercise to completing daily tasks. Keep up a regimen of three healthy meals per day with plenty of high-protein food. Nutritionists have found a strong link between a diet rich in vitamins and minerals and alleviated depression symptoms. Stay away from heavily processed foods and other “junk” foods.
A healthy diet is so vital because when you stop using drugs and alcohol, you have a high chance of experiencing a chemical imbalance in your brain, which then leads to cravings. Foods that are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals may help combat cravings and promote a healthy mind as well as body.
Good Habits of Exercise and Relaxation Help Rewind Your Mind
Physical exercises, both easy and intense, can boost your blood flow and your mood. In fact, the harder you work out, the more feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin your body will produce. Scientists have found that regular, intense exercises make a positive impact on mental health. Similarly, more relaxed and meditative forms of exercise, such as yoga, allow you to connect your mind and body and build health in both areas.
For most people, the biggest challenge to healthy exercise habits is staying motivated or lacking self-discipline. If you keep at it, with time and perseverance, you will reap fruits of joy from nurturing these healthy habits. When you set both your mind and body on healthier paths, you stand a greater chance of resisting temptations and avoiding relapse.
Mental relapses always precede physical ones. Relapse prevention begins with daily or even moment-to-moment awareness. Continued sobriety hinges on unlearning old, risky habits and adopting new, healthy habits. Rebuilding good habits with daily routines trains both the body and the mind to resist temptations. If you find this challenging, you can seek professional help. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our licensed mental healthcare professionals and therapists know how to design a relapse-prevention plan based on forming good habits. We rely on proven behavioral therapy methods to assist those who need help. We have inpatient and outpatient programs that address a range of mental health issues that might be challenging during all phases of your recovery. Our residential facility offers a range of treatments, including diagnosis, behavioral therapies, 12-step programs, and custom treatment plans. You can count on us to guide you through post-recovery relapse prevention. Call us today at (866) 906-3203.