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8 Tips For Preventing A Relapse This Summer

Tips For Preventing A Relapse

What is a Relapse?

For some individuals that have completed a drug and alcohol rehab program, you return home with your newfound skills in addiction recovery and begin to integrate back into your everyday routine. Although your intentions to remain free of drug or alcohol abuse are genuine, there are times when life will throw you curveballs or triggers that come unexpectedly and can cause someone to end up relapsing if the right supports and recovery tools are not in place. Relapse is often a part of addiction recovery, and it is important to remember that a relapse does not reflect poorly on you as a person. It means that you are continuing to learn and grow as a person living a life of sober living. 

A relapse is defined as an individual returning to drug or alcohol abuse after a period of sobriety. There are instances where individuals may enter into a ‘lapse’ which is characterized by someone having a brief moment of returning to substance abuse but having the ability to return back to sober living and quitting their use of drugs and alcohol again. When referring to a relapse, it is characterized by a person reengaging with substance abuse and returning back into the cycle or drug or alcohol addiction. Relapse is often a common part of addiction recovery as a person that is addicted to drugs and alcohol will have altered brain chemistry and functioning that often perpetuates addictive behaviors even after a person initially gets sober. There are two classifications of relapse. The first being a traditional relapse where an individual will intentionally start using drugs and alcohol again after having a period of sober living. The second form of relapse is classified as a ‘freelapse’ which is characterized by a person accidentally using drugs and alcohol without knowing. This can often happen when someone unintentionally takes a drink of alcohol when they were under the assumption it was a nonalcoholic beverage

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Why Relapse Rates Spike in the Summer

Relapse rates are known to spike during certain times of year and a widely known time of year is during the winter holidays of Christmas and New Years. However, summertime proves to be a challenging time for some as they attempt to resist the temptation of letting loose and enjoying the social gatherings on a hot summer’s day. In order to avoid relapsing, it is important to have an understanding of the trends and causes for the increase in relapse rates among individuals during the summer season so that you develop a relapse prevention plan that will enable you to have an enjoyable sober summer. 

There are some individuals that experience a shift in their mental health due to the seasons changing. While seasonal affective disorder is widely known for affecting individuals in the winter season, there are some people who have the opposite effect and find an increase in their depressive moods and thoughts during the summer months which can lead to an increase in drug or alcohol abuse. 

Summertime is often centered around social connection and social gatherings that often increase the chances of individuals being around others that are engaging in substance abuse. Summer months are often associated with beach outings, backyard barbecues, camping, music festivals, and parties with loved ones and friends. These social events are at a higher probability of having drugs and alcohol at the event leading to many in early addiction recovery to become exposed to substance abuse again and the potential peer pressure from friends and families can be more triggering than some would have thought. 

Summer Relapse Prevention Tips for People in Recovery

There are ways for you to enjoy the summer months and avoid relapsing by taking the time to plan ahead and create a relapse prevention plan for yourself. Tips for having a sober summer that is enjoyable and you can spend time doing activities you love with the people that you care about most include: 

  • Explore new hobbies you have always wanted to try- The summer months are a great time to get outside and try something you have always been curious about. Whether it be a new sport, trying a new hiking trail, or going camping, summer time provides many options that will get you outside and enjoying the summer heat. 
  • Attend social events sparingly- There is still opportunity for you to be social with your loved ones and you can spend time at social events with them. It is important that you be mindful of how often you will be exposing yourself to drug and alcohol abuse to avoid relapsing or becoming triggered. If you are attending a social event, take the time to be curious and ask questions about the event. Will there be people there using drugs or alcohol? Are you in a place to set your boundaries if you are exposed to substance abuse? Do I have a strategy to safely and comfortably leave the situation if I am feeling triggered? Plan ahead is one of the crucial skills needed for addiction recovery and the key is to have honest self reflection about how you are feeling in the moment and if you are in a place to set guidelines and boundaries so you can continue preventing relapse. 
  • Become self aware of your own triggers. In order to avoid relapsing, it is important to take the time to reflect on your personal triggers so that you can plan ahead to learn the ability to recognize a potential trigger while also developing the tools to overcome the trigger. It is important to incorporate into your relapse prevention plan learning and perfecting the ability to say no should you be triggered. Setting appropriate boundaries with others about your  addiction recovery and setting in place the recovery tools to say no to temptations will help ensure you remain clean and sober throughout the summer months. 
  • Build a strong support system of others in addiction recovery. Having others that you can turn to when you are feeling triggered or if you just want to have a sober friend to enjoy sober activities together will help you feel included in summertime fun while also ensuring that you avoid relapsing. 
  • Plan a sober summer vacation – The summer months are known for going out with your families and friends to enjoy the summer heat and outdoor activities and there is so much you can plan ahead for to create a memorable enjoyable sober summer vacation. 
  • Volunteer with different events or volunteer to become a sponsor to other drug addicts or alcoholics within the 12 step programs. Giving back to your community not only helps others but it also helps you to have a sense of purpose and enjoyment by helping others who have been in similar experiences as you. 
  • Plan a project for over the summer months- Maybe you have always wanted to learn a new skill or take a class. Summertime is a great time to get involved with something new and engage in activities or skill building. 
  • Attend outpatient treatment or 12 step recovery groups to help keep you focused and engaged in your addiction recovery journey. 

What to Do If You Relapse

If you find that you encounter a relapse this summer, there is support for you to get back on track for your recovery journey through addiction treatment centers. After a relapse, the first critical step is reaching out to seek help and support to get you back on track. This can be done through various levels of care in addiction recovery programs whether you choose an inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab program, you will have the support of a medical detox if needed along with addiction therapists that will support you in working through your emotions and behaviors linked to your addictive behaviors.  Patients will be able to process what triggers were linked to their relapse and begin to formulate relapse prevention tools and techniques for how to safely overcome any future triggers and avoid relapsing. 

Support Groups and Resources for Staying Sober at Resurgence

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we understand the nature of drug and alcohol addiction which is why our team takes an approach of empathy and non-judgment as we understand that relapse can be a part of a person’s recovery journey. Through our addiction treatment programs, we provide patients with individual therapy sessions and group therapy sessions that are centered around life skills development and relapse prevention. Patients will learn tools for emotional regulation, mindfulness, emotional awareness, and peer support through 12 step recovery groups that will help to ensure you are equipped with the tools to overcome triggers. Patients and their families and friends will be encouraged to participate in family therapy and other families’ programs that will help build your addiction recovery support and allow you to have people you can turn to in a time of need to keep you on track with your recovery journey. At Resurgence, we are committed to helping you find long term success in addiction recovery, and we are waiting for your call to help keep you on the road to recovery. 

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