What is the secret to overcoming the urge to use drugs and alcohol? Is there a sure fire method to controlling triggers and urges that would cause us to relapse in addiction recovery?
What is the best defense against these urges to use?
Preventing relapse by managing urges to use is very possible. When you are early in recovery and you are angry or frustrated, it might seem like there is no escape from such urges, or that they will never go away entirely. You might feel like you are fighting a losing battle, and that the urge to use your drug of choice will always be present.
Don’t give up. Here is how the process of overcoming urges worked for me. I am sure it can work for anyone else as well, if they are persistent enough in implementing these ideas:
1) Get detoxed in a safe environment. I started with this and I don’t really see how it could have worked any other way, for me at least. I was heavily addicted to alcohol at the time and if I tried to go a day without drinking then I would not even be able to sleep. Period. So my body needed the alcohol physically. If you anywhere near this point then I strongly suggest that you seek out a medical detox. Other drugs is the same story. If you are physically addicted to a chemical then seek medical help for the detox process. If you do not then you are just making it harder on yourself, and possibly a lot more dangerous, too.
2) Seek professional help AFTER detox. It is not enough, in my opinion, to just get physically detoxed from drugs or alcohol. You need help beyond that. For most people this will be in the form of either short term rehab, 12 step meetings, or possibly outpatient therapy or counseling. Any of these options may or may not help you, but avoiding all of them is probably a mistake. Judge your success in early recovery based on results only. If you use drugs or alcohol, then your approach failed, and you should try something different (and more intense) then next time.
3) Seek long term treatment or ongoing care of some sort. I was never willing to do this much until I got really desperate to stay clean and sober. For me, long term rehab was necessary in order to overcome the urges that would have caused me to relapse. I remember breaking down and pounding my fists into my bed in long term rehab, frustrated to tears, and believing that I would never be happy in my life without drugs and alcohol. If I had not been in treatment during those urges, I would have surely relapsed. Long term treatment enabled me to get past my strongest urges to use.
4) Develop an holistic approach to your recovery as you progress in your sobriety. This is critical in the long run. Complacency kills. If you get lazy in your long term journey, you will eventually pick back up and use again. In order to overcome this possibility, you need a proactive approach to taking positive action in your life. An holistic approach means that you try to grow in many different areas of your life.
For example, you consider fitness. You get into shape. You exercise. You quit smoking. You seek spiritual growth. Maybe you go back to church some day. Maybe not. Maybe you start meditating. Whatever. The point is that you keep pushing yourself to learn and to grow in new areas. If you stay stuck in early recovery tactics then you limit your ability to grow in long term recovery.
Overcoming urges to use comes naturally to someone who continuously pushes himself to grow in recovery.