The way relapse is described often finds itself at a cross roads. According to neuroscience, relapse is a process. Over the course of many weeks, the brain builds up a case against logic and reason convincing such areas of the brain to give in to cravings. Euphoric recall, which is when one spends time reminiscing about good times and how rewarding addiction was, can start the process. Stress, emotional pain, and not utilizing the tools of recovery can also contribute. Essentially, the brain becomes so alive with memories of drinking and using that it signals cravings as if it has already had drugs and alcohol, therefore experiencing symptoms of withdrawal all over again.
On the other hand, according to many people in recovery who have experienced relapse themselves, it isn’t a process but a spontaneous instant. In one flash of a moment all judgment and reason is lost. There are no consequences, no thinking. From black to white, A to B, there’s no stop in the middle. A drug or a drink is picked up and consumed. What happens next defines the course of their recovery. Either there is immediate regret and a return to working on recovery, or there is a period which can never be determined in length, of no sobriety.
Relapse does not have to happen. In addition to numerous therapeutic and holistic tools for relapse prevention there are a few key strategies you can apply when your chemical mind is taking over and you’re inches away from picking up.
Pausing is the one thing most people who relapse say they were not able to do. If you feel insatiable cravings coming up, do everything you can to try to pause in between. Take a moment to call a friend, call a sponsor, or take a walk. You might not be able to think clearly in that moment. However, if you stay away from the thought process long enough you will most likely see the cravings subside. Often, cravings get worse merely out of the anticipation that they are about to be satisfied.
Prana is a word for breath and pranayama is the practice of breathing. Using breath work of any kind, even just taking deep breaths, can have a wealth of benefit in a heated moment which could lead to relapse. Breath circulates oxygen to the brain which can help it calm down from the distress it is causing. Additionally, physical signals of cravings which have been sent out will benefit from the total body relaxation of breathing. Breathing also helps focus the mind, which can bring it out of hyper focus on drinking and using.
Present Moment Thinking
Being in the height of cravings often means one of two mental states: living in the future or living in the past. There’s fears about the future which come up in recovery, fears of the unknown and the uncontrollable. Likewise, there are fears about the past, regrets and mistakes which cannot be changed. Let go of the past and the future and focus on the choice you have right now in the present moment. In this instant you can choose between repeating the past or defining a new future. You are empowered to make the choice.
If you are struggling with chronic relapse, there is a solution. Enlightened Solutions has created an integrative program which brings together healing for mind, body, and spirit. Our integrative programs create transformational change. For more information, call us today at 833-801-5483.
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