“It would almost be easier if relapse really happened that way. You know, suddenly and we just didn’t have any control over it. But that’s just not true. Sometimes the triggers come hard and fast, but at the end of the day, we still have the option: do or don’t.”
One of the most profound and difficult lessons we learn in recovery is choice- or rather, how to make the right one. We choose our actions and reactions and, consequently, what happens thereafter. Learning mindfulness in recovery is about recognizing your ability to control your choices and think ahead rather than reacting purely in the moment.
Utilizing mindfulness in your recovery is the secret to staying ahead of relapse. Staying vigilant to potential triggers is essential to long-term sobriety, but that depends on your ability to recognize signs of impending relapse. Here are 3 signs of relapse you need to look out for.
#1: Wandering Thoughts
Actions follow thought, so being mindful of where your thoughts may lead you. While you can’t always help a stray thought of the past, when you find your mind constantly going back to a place of addiction pay attention. Don’t ignore those tendrils and whispers, because eventually the will become cracks in the crumbling foundation of your sober life. Check your mind before you find yourself in trouble.
#2: Mental Compromising
So your thoughts are wandering, but you know you can’t go back down that path, so it’s okay, right? But then your mind starts to try and reason with itself- ‘well, I can’t drink like I used to, but what’s one glass?’ or ‘I’m having a bad day- I can do this just this once and I’ll start over again tomorrow.’ The moment your mind starts to try and make it okay to ruin all the progress you’ve made over a moment of weakness is when you need to redouble your efforts to stay solid. Don’t allow addiction to sneak it’s way back into your life. It’s never worth it in the end; all that comes is regret and self-deprecation and who needs that?
There’s a reason the most common advice in early recovery is to stay busy. Being occupied helps to lower the likelihood of relapse. Restlessness allows those detrimental thoughts to creep in, starting a chain reaction that can lead to relapse. If you find yourself getting restless or antsy often in early recovery, find a way to better occupy your time. Pick up reading or art, get into a fitness regimen- do whatever it takes to keep yourself preoccupied and out of danger.