How Coping Skills Can Prevent Relapse

How Coping Skills Can Prevent Relapse

How do you cope with conflict or challenges that come your way? Everyone faces adversity at some point in their life. How you respond to and handle adversity is critical for your health and wellbeing.

At a young age, we are often taught to shake things off or take a walk to cool down when we are feeling stressed or upset. The truth is, as we age and encounter more difficult situations, these simple solutions may not always have the therapeutic effect they once did. When it comes to drug or alcohol addiction, there are many things that can come your way that may cause distress and hardships. Relapse can be difficult to avoid at times, especially when cravings strike or you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

In these instances, it is necessary to come to battle prepared with skills and strategies for coping with the urge to use. These can be developed and strengthened over time. With practice and determination, you can reduce the chances of relapse by using skills learned in treatment. At Enlightened Solutions, we focus on relapse prevention.

Potential Challenges

Let’s take a moment to discuss potential issues that could arise during recovery that could make you consider relapse. These could be small things, large problems, unexpected incidents, or even minor setbacks to your progress.

For instance, say you lost your job suddenly. This can not only create stress for you but could also create stress for your family members who may be counting on you to pay the bills. Maybe you have an argument with your partner or family member. Familial conflict can be a huge trigger for many and can often create immense stress.

Spending time with others who may be a poor influence or aren’t supportive of your new lifestyle can also create issues. You may feel pressured or feel as if you don’t belong. These emotions can lead to the consideration of using again to ease these feelings of isolation. We all have bad days, right? However, a bad day for someone in recovery can result in relapse if they are not prepared with strategies for staying on track.

Building Coping Skills in Treatment

Coping skills can be developed through therapy and group learning and practice during treatment. Many would consider coping skills to be some of the most important things to carry into recovery. The more prepared and confident you are in your ability to stay on track during recovery, the more successful you are likely to be.

How do you build this confidence? The answer lies in feeling well equipped to take what you have learned in treatment and apply it to life in recovery.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy sessions allow you to really open up and explore your trauma, barriers to recovery, and behavior patterns that do not serve you. By addressing these things one-on-one with a therapist, you are able to develop skills for navigating these potential barriers to your success.

A few examples of skills you might develop through individual therapy could include boundary setting, mindfulness, methods for self-care, and more. Putting the skills learned to practice outside of sessions is key.

Group Therapy

Group therapy, while less individualized, can create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging. When you feel like others have your back, you feel more confident and comfortable leaning on others for support. Sometimes, having the support of peers can help you cope with conflict and avoid relapse.

Group therapy also provides an opportunity for you to practice the skills you learned during individual therapy sessions. Practicing these new skills in a safe space with others who share similar goals can be less intimidating and can allow you to really sharpen your abilities prior to integrating them into your life outside of treatment.

Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy involves using fun and often fellowship-driven activities to promote skill-building and practice. This can serve as an additional step following group therapy for you to practice your coping skills in real-life settings. Some examples of experiential therapy can include gardening, fishing, surfing, or hiking.

Consider the skills involved in these activities. You might need patience, focus, and determination. Many may also require teamwork and leaning on others for support. All of these skills can help you cope with stressors and challenges that could trigger a relapse.

Coping skills come in handy in many situations. Whether you need to overcome a difficult situation with work or you need to process an unexpected loss, coping skills are essential. When it comes to avoiding relapse and staying on track throughout treatment and recovery, how you respond to adversity will make all the difference.

Coping skills are crucial when it comes to staying focused on your goals throughout treatment and recovery. By engaging in individual therapy, group therapy, and other experience-based therapies you can develop specific skills for coping with stressors and obstacles you are bound to face in treatment and recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer various forms of therapy to address your specific needs. We take a trauma-first approach to treatment, meaning we aim to address underlying trauma and help you heal mentally, spiritually, and physically as you move forward with your goal of sobriety. Let us help you develop skills for a successful and healthy future. Through our programs, you can build the confidence and skills you need to thrive in recovery. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.

How To Avoid Alcohol Relapse

What is Relapse?

Once you leave an addiction treatment facility or outpatient program, the work doesn’t end there. You have most likely heard about the risk of relapse as something that can undermine the recovery process; however, it doesn’t have to. Understanding relapse, its causes, and how to avoid it is a key part of remaining substance-free and maintaining abstinence in the years to come.

Addiction relapse refers to a return to drug use after an attempt to stop and is a well-chronicled risk with any substance use disorder. In the case of alcohol use disorder (AUD), it refers to any time you drink alcohol after an intentional, sustained period of abstinence.

Relapse has three stages, and each stage has distinct characteristics:

Stage One: Emotional

The first stage of relapse can find the person isolating from others and missing 12-step meetings. They may find that previous mental health concerns begin to resurface, and they start to neglect their personal appearance and self-care.

Stage Two: Mental

This stage of the process presents with mental health changes; glamorizing or fantasizing about past drinking, internally negotiating over drinking and re-engaging with friends they used to drink with. They may also start to plan how they can drink again.

Stage Three: Physical

This is what most people imagine when they think about relapse; when a person in recovery starts drinking again. It is the hardest phase to fight back against and usually only occurs following an unmanaged period of emotional or mental relapse.

Causes of Alcohol Relapse

Many situations can trigger an urge to drink again. Some common occurrences that might lead to relapse include:

Sudden Changes or Crises in Personal Life

Many different things can upend a person’s stability. Job loss, grief, breakup, and changes in housing all put us under a great deal of mental stress. When this happens, coping mechanisms come into play. An effective treatment program will help build strategies for emotionally taxing situations, but these habits need to be maintained; otherwise, the temptation to return to the old crutch of alcohol may re-surface.

Return To Old Routines

Old situations, places, and people that used to trigger binge drinking are usually still accessible when someone is in recovery. If a person starts to go back to the routines and interactions of pre-recovery life, it’s likely to accompany a step back into an addiction mindset.

Untreated Mental Health Challenges

Substance use disorder often occurs at the same time as mental health or mood disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression, or PTSD). When someone in recovery suffers from these conditions without treatment, they can hinder an attempt to stay sober.

Negative Thinking Cycles

When negative thoughts arise and aren’t understood or managed, they can begin a cycle that leads addictive thinking to return. Thoughts can include negative self-labeling (I'm an addict), all-or-nothing thoughts (I thought about drinking, so my recovery has failed), catastrophizing obstacles (I can never overcome this upcoming challenge), or just be as simple as a total fear of change. Thinking like this can be managed, but it can break down our confidence and undermine our sobriety when it is left unchecked.

Isolating From Support Structures

When someone stops scheduling meetings with their sober partners or attending AA meetings, they isolate themselves in two ways. Firstly, these meetings provide a structured space to connect with the emotional side of recovery and offer the opportunity to talk and help each other through the challenges of remaining abstinent. Secondly, disengaging removes any accountability - something that can be used as an effective tool against relapse.

Relapse prevention is a core goal of effective addiction treatment. These setbacks can typically be overcome with effective coping skills, planning, and reflection. It is also essential to keep up with one’s community of support. Engaging with family and friends and allowing them to actively take part in the recovery journey makes the road a lot smoother.

Not everyone experiences a relapse, but it is not uncommon and can certainly be overcome. Avoid enabling. If you or someone you love has relapsed, understand that this does not mean returning to square one. This is a moment to figure out what extra support may be necessary and what areas of life have contributed to the relapse, then working out coping mechanisms to help prevent it from happening again.

We Can Help

At Enlightened Solutions, we offer clients the tools and techniques they need to overcome these obstacles and live a happy, sober life. Our therapeutic treatment is rooted in the 12-step philosophy and is designed to help you heal and stay sober long-term. In addition to talk therapy, we offer a range of holistic treatment modalities, including meditation, art and music therapy, and family constellation therapy. If you or a loved one wants relief from alcohol addiction but is struggling with relapse, please call us today at (833) 801-5483.

burnout in recovery

How to Avoid Burnout in Recovery

At one point in your life, you realized you had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Your substance abuse was beginning to take over your life, interfering with work, family, and friends. You got help. You went through a treatment program, and you achieved sobriety. Now you are back in the “real world,” working hard to maintain the sober lifestyle that you worked so hard to achieve. You go to meetings; you work with your sponsor; you eat a healthy diet; you exercise regularly; you make sure you get enough sleep. You are doing everything right, so why does it all feel like so much work?

It may be that in your diligent work to live a sober lifestyle, you’ve forgotten why you wanted sobriety in the first place. You most likely didn’t decide to become sober for the sake of sobriety alone; you became sober to improve your life. Now it seems like sobriety might be your entire life. If you feel this way, you might be burning out on sobriety which could lead to a relapse--the last thing you want.

Symptoms of Burnout

You may be heading toward burnout if you find that you are tired of going to meetings, tired of hearing about recovery, tired of hearing the same people talk about the same problems. You may find yourself feeling irritable, feeling emotionally exhausted, or feeling like an imposter. You may be getting more headaches or stomach aches, or your muscles may feel tight all the time. You may have trouble sleeping, or you may feel tired all the time. These are all signs that you may be experiencing burnout.

Be Aware of Your Feelings

The first step to avoiding burnout is to be aware of how you feel—check-in with yourself. Notice your thoughts and the sensations in your body. Remember that it’s okay to feel how you are feeling. If you keep a journal, write about what you are experiencing. If you don’t keep a journal, now would be a good time to start. Writing can be a great way to explore feelings. In the process of writing, you can uncover how you feel and dig under the surface to explore what is causing those feelings.

Try Something New in Recovery

If you are tired of the meetings you usually attend, try out some different ones. Although you will always want to be in fellowship with other people in recovery, some new faces and new perspectives may rekindle your interest in sobriety. You may find a new favorite meeting.

Volunteer in your community, or get involved with service work if you are active in a 12-Step fellowship. You will be doing some good in your community, and you will be shifting your focus away from yourself and your feelings of discontent. Also, in the process of volunteering, you may make some new friends or strengthen existing friendships.

Conversely, you may want to cut back on some of your commitments. It’s okay to give yourself a break once in a while. You may need to recharge. Taking a step back could allow you to examine what’s working and what isn’t in your recovery.

Try Something New Outside of Recovery

Now might be the time to add a non-recovery activity into your life. Maybe you liked to paint once upon a time--now could be the perfect time to break out the paints and the easel. Perhaps you used to go on hikes every weekend, or you have happy memories of working in a garden with a relative. Making time for a hobby that is seemingly unrelated to your recovery may strengthen your recovery.

Finding something new that you love, or returning to a hobby that you used to love, is a part of why you recovered in the first place. Your addiction was taking over your life. Now that you are free from your addiction, you have time to discover or rediscover activities that you love.

Reach Out for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to someone you trust. It may seem like you are the only person who has felt burnt out on recovery, but you aren’t. If you have a sponsor, talk about your concerns and what you are experiencing. Your sponsor may very well have gone through something similar. Discuss this with your therapist. Don’t keep your feelings bottled up.

Although it may not seem like it at first, going through a burnout phase, a season of discontent, will strengthen your commitment to recovery.

At Enlightened Solutions, we realize that recovery is a lifelong process. As such, our relationship with our clients does not end when they complete their formal treatment program. Our alumni are a living testament to our recovery program. Their successes after treatment bring hope and encouragement to our current clients and to one another. We are a co-occurring treatment center, and in addition to substance use disorder, we also treat the mental health issues that often accompany addiction, including depression and anxiety. Our treatment programs are rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and include traditional talk therapy and many holistic treatment modalities like yoga, family constellation therapy, and art and music therapy. We are located near New Jersey’s southern shore, and we customize a treatment plan for each client. If you are struggling with an addiction, or if someone close to you is, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information about our treatment options.

Creating Goals: Managing Expectations for Successful Recovery

Creating Goals: Managing Expectations for Successful Recovery

When entering a recovery program, you may be asked, “What are your goals for recovery?” You may have some idea for recovery goals based on avoiding the pain that brought you into a care program or other form of treatment. You might be thinking about loved ones that your addictions have hurt or the pain you may have brought into your own life.

While you can benefit from thinking of the mistakes you would like to avoid repeating, recovery goals are things that you want to do to move toward. Goals are positive accomplishments that you would like to achieve or bring into your life. When you set about on your recovery journey, think about where you want to be. Use the negative experiences in your life to remind yourself of what you would like to avoid while looking ahead to what you want.

Goals Are the Road Map

Creating goals will help you move from where you are to where you would like to be. Otherwise, you may be feeling lost or confused while thinking that recovery is just about avoiding specific behaviors. Recovery is much more than learning how to manage and evade addictive behaviors.

Recovery is about building a fulfilling and rewarding life. Recovery is about building a new life for yourself and finding new destinations. In recovery, you may get stuck feeling like you know what you do not want more than you know what you do want.

You may feel that everything will work out as long as you avoid triggers and maintain sobriety. Life is about so much more! Finding a focus will help keep you from feeling trapped by substances or alcohol. Recovery is a journey, a means to a destination.

Where are you going in your recovery? Once you know where you are going, the journey becomes easier. Goals are the steps along the way toward your destination. They are the specific targets that you reach to move forward on your journey toward something greater.

Creating goals for recovery can be a fun process! You can use your imagination and create the person you want to become. You can begin by taking some time to think about what is important to you. What things get you out of your bed each morning? What are the fun things that you enjoy? What makes you feel fulfilled?

Challenging Negativity and Pushing Forward

If you have never created any goals or thought about this before, you may feel challenged thinking about these things. You may also be feeling down and experiencing negative emotions, like hopelessness and helplessness. When you feel down like this, the bright side is, you can only move upward.

If you cannot feel any worse, then the only option is to feel better! Any small step forward is a step toward success! Each positive step is a victory when you are in a down and out mental place! Build positive momentum and push forward by managing your expectations. When beginning the goal-making process, small steps forward will lead to big rewards along the journey!

Manage Your Expectations: Building Positivity

Bringing a positive mindset to recovery can help you along the entire journey. Start with small, everyday goals. While you may have a bigger accomplishment in mind, like, “I want to be a better parent” or “I want to get a Master’s degree,” keep these things in mind as you start small.

In the beginning stages of recovery, you may be neglecting some of your own self-care needs. You may be struggling with having a routine or finding any rewarding hobbies. You will be a better parent when you know how to care for yourself. You will be more successful in college if you can follow a routine.

Choose a goal like making your bed every morning or exercising for fifteen minutes per day. Be proud of yourself for the everyday victories and, as you remain consistent, you will build a positive mindset to move forward to tackling bigger challenges! Remember to think of the small things that you can do to start your recovery.

Be proud of yourself for any victory or achievement, even the daily accomplishments, like cooking dinner or taking a walk. When you are at rock bottom, the only place for you to go is up! Start small and think of where you want to go and less about what you want to avoid. Recovery is a journey that can be fun and rewarding! Set small goals to guide you along the way as you create the life that you want!

When you are at rock bottom, you may have a difficult time seeing the light. You may be struggling with negative emotions and feelings of hopelessness. You may even feel like you do not deserve to be happy if you have hurt others in the past due to your addictions. Holding onto the past can keep you glued in a state of “rock bottom.” You deserve to seek a fulfilling life beyond simply avoiding addictive behaviors. You deserve to be happy and to move forward. Building momentum takes some time; start with the small victories. Manage your expectations and have fun along the way! Enlightened Solutions offers our clients new ways of approaching recovery and emphasizes the importance of building a fulfilling life beyond our care program. Call us today at (833) 801-5483 to begin your recovery journey!

What Should You Do After a Relapse?

What Should You Do After a Relapse?

Relapse is unfortunately common when you’re trying to overcome a substance use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60 percent of people will relapse within a year of treatment. Although relapse can be dangerous and discouraging and should be avoided if possible, it’s also nothing to be ashamed of. The nature of addiction is that it’s hard to quit. The good news is that people do sustain recovery even after several relapses. Here are some tips for getting back on track after a relapse.

Reach Out for Support

First, reach out to someone you trust. Your reflex will probably be to isolate. You may feel ashamed or embarrassed. You may feel like you can get it together and no one has to know. Fight that impulse and ask for help. There are two primary reasons for this. First, shame, deception, and isolation are habits of addiction. Cutting yourself off from your support system, whether from shame or a misplaced determination to be self-reliant only takes you further in the wrong direction. Owning your mistake, being open about it, and asking for help can be hard but it’s a firm step in the right direction.

The other reason is that you actually do need help. No one recovers alone and this is especially true following relapse when your situation may feel even more hopeless than it did the first time you got sober. Reach out to your therapist, your sponsor, your 12-Step group, or a friend or relative you trust. It’s easier to get back on track if you have someone on your side and it also gives you a greater sense of accountability.

Limit the Damage

After a relapse, a lot of people take the view of, “Well, I’ve ruined my recovery already, so I might as well go all the way.” This is a classic case of all-or-nothing thinking, one of the common cognitive distortions identified in cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. It is frustrating to feel like you have to start over and some aspects of 12-Step programs, such as starting over on your sober days, make it feel like nothing you accomplished before relapse matters.

However, it’s important to ask yourself, “How can I improve my situation now?” Although you may have slipped and had a few drinks with dinner or maybe gone on a week-long bender or whatever, continuing in that behavior will only make your situation worse. The sooner you are able to get sober again and assess your situation, the better position you will be in to resume your recovery.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

One of the biggest challenges of bouncing back after a relapse is dealing with the challenging emotions and self-criticism. You may be thinking something like, “How could I be so stupid?” or “I’ll never be able to stay sober,” or “What’s the point of even trying?” It’s normal to feel discouraged but it doesn’t help. On the other hand, “chin up” sort of thinking doesn’t really help either. Trying to stay positive sometimes only adds to your frustration. Instead, try acknowledging the facts: About half of people relapse after treatment and many of those people are able to stay sober on subsequent attempts.

Next, try extending yourself a bit of compassion. Compassion is not about pretending everything is fine, but rather about acknowledging that you can make mistakes and still be worthy of love and happiness. Instead of beating yourself up over a relapse, imagine how you would treat your best friend who had just relapsed and felt awful about it. Try extending some of that compassion to yourself too.

Analyze What Went Wrong

Perhaps the most crucial part of bouncing back after relapse is not losing the lesson. There are many potential hazards in recovery from addiction. Some of them are foreseeable and others aren’t. Analyzing what went wrong can provide valuable information for your next attempt. It might help to write about what happened. Where were you? Who were you with? How were you feeling? What were you thinking about? What was going on in your life more generally? Had you been sticking to your recovery plan? If not, why not?

You may discover that it was something simple like you got too busy at work and started skipping meetings. Or it could be something you had little or no control over, such as the unexpected death of a loved one. Sometimes you’re just not ready for what life throws at you. The more you can learn, the better you can adapt your recovery plan to account for those possibilities.

Look for the Silver Lining

It’s frustrating to feel like you have to start all over. A lot of people feel like they don’t have it in them. However, it may help to think about what you have going for you that you didn’t have last time you got sober. For example, you probably have some sober friends, you know what to expect at 12-Step meetings, you may have a therapist already, you may have resources at your disposal from the treatment program you attended, you may be aware of a mental health issue that needs attention, and so on. In short, it’s not your first rodeo. Thinking about everything you have going for you will give you more confidence going forward.

Try Again

Finally, when you’ve assessed your situation and figured out how you might do better in the future, try again. Exactly what you do will depend on your individual situation. If you had a minor slip, you can probably just go back to your recovery plan--with the proper modifications--go back to attending meetings, and so on. If you had a more extensive relapse, you may need to consider going back into treatment at some level.

Relapse is always a setback in recovery from addiction but it doesn’t have to be a failure. Plenty of people have to try several times to get sober but eventually succeed. Whether or not you ultimately have a long recovery depends on how you respond to a relapse. If you learn from your mistakes and try again, your long-term chances are good.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovery is a process that never ends. We do everything we can to help our clients learn the skills they need to stay sober and help them transition back to normal life. We offer partial care, intensive outpatient services, relapse prevention, and sober living services to help make recovery last. To learn more, call us at 833-801-5483.

Negative Self Talk

“I should’ve said something else in my 12-Step program. Now everyone probably thinks I’m stupid.”

“I’m not going to be able to survive this program.”

“There’s no way I’m going to reach my recovery goals. I’m not strong enough.”

We all have moments of self-doubt, but negative self-talk can greatly harm our sense of self-worth, self-esteem and success in recovery, if we let it go on for too long. The way we treat ourselves is what shapes our self-perception – but many times, we’re more critical of ourselves than we really need to be.

After we’ve taken the time to undergo detoxification and live sober for a while, it’s not uncommon to feel a little sorry for ourselves and what we’ve gone through with addiction and other challenging aspects of our lives. For many people, they begin to realize just how much they’ve hurt their loved ones – which can generate and multiply shame. Those in addiction recovery tend to view themselves as “bad people” or even “monsters” as they’ve gained clarity on the scope of their addiction and how it’s affected the people they love, but that’s simply not true.

 Much of the negative self-talk that those in recovery have is from societal stigma and negative messaging they’ve received from others, even growing up – either implicitly or explicitly. For instance, traumatic situations from the past can leave damaging wounds and hurtful messages inside a person’s mind – and so, in recovery, when a person is completely sober and unable to drown those messages out, it’s possible that negative self-talk can arise. It becomes increasingly important because negative self-talk can lead to relapse if a person isn’t careful – and that’s why a stop needs to be put to it immediately. 

Those in addiction recovery often have to learn how to identify the negative messages that are appearing, and then to take action against them. It’s hard to combat negative thoughts – they’re so tempting and strong, sometimes it feels as though they’re whispering words of reality into our ears (although they’re really not). If you can identify the messages and set them apart from what’s really happening in your life, you’ll be much better off.

Relapse tends to occur because we’re holding in certain painful emotions that truly need to be worked through and released. In cases of self-talk, we beat ourselves up – and naturally, these pent-up feelings lead us to buy into these false beliefs, which we act on through reverting back to substance abuse. Awareness is such a crucial part of recovery because it enables us to identify what’s holding us back and then gives us greater empowerment to respond differently than we normally would. 

When we’re aware of our thoughts, emotions and the sensations around us, we’re more apt to recognize negative self-talk when it arises. Not only that, but we’re also able to make healthier decisions quicker – which means that when the mind starts acting up, and we start hearing some negativity, we can combat them using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques that are learned in addiction recovery. There’s a lot you will explore in both individual and group therapy within addiction recovery that will provide you with steps to take towards working through these moments of negativity, but there are some excellent coping skills you can use for when your thoughts are bringing you down.  

One major strategy is to change the way you’re saying the negative thoughts out loud. For example, if your mind is telling you that you’re “stupid,” you could change the way you express that thought and say that you just had a silly thought – that your mind is playing tricks on you and that you’re not actually “stupid” because you’re working really hard towards your recovery and that’s probably the smartest choice you could’ve made for your health and wellbeing. Sometimes the way we express those negative thoughts out loud can make the situation worse – so be careful of how you express it. 

Emotions can be all-encompassing, and if you become too wrapped up in negative self-talk, you may find yourself starting to spiral. Instead, ground yourself by focusing on the sights, smells, and textures around you. What colors do you currently see in the room that you’re in? What do you smell? What textures do you feel? What tastes are there? If you close your eyes right now, what sounds do you hear? Sometimes this type of activity works well for people who are feeling very overwhelmed by their thoughts.  

Create a list in your head of all the lies your negative self-talk is trying to tell you. Remind yourself that this is just another one of those phrases that you’ve decided to no longer allow to run your recovery. Combat the heavy weight of these false beliefs with the truth – use logic to break apart the negative arguments that are being made, because they’re likely not true. If they are, you can work to change the situation in your daily life by focusing on recovery.

There are addiction treatment options available to fit your needs at Enlightened Solutions. Our professional staff can help you understand why negative self-talk can trigger relapse, recognize the signs of relapse, and course-correct before you start using again. And if you do relapse, that is okay too – we are here to get you back on track and healthy again. At Enlightened Solutions,  we understand the complexities of addiction and foster hope for the future. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.

You Only Need 3 Things To Set Boundaries In Your Life

Relapse Prevention

In the beginning of the recovery journey, it is important to become aware of the primary focal points for the recovery process to ensure lasting recovery.  In the dominant model, Alcoholic Anonymous, the primary focal points are unity, service and recovery. These focal points are intended to keep those in recovery grounded in the core principles while also bringing attention to maintaining tension between these three focal points.  It is thought that a balance between these objectives bring some measure of assurance in lasting recovery.  

The words unity, service and recovery when lived in a balanced tension with one another will bring forward a recovery lifestyle.  This lifestyle will contain intimately connected relationship with other alcoholics (unity), a consistent practice of carrying the message to other people in recovery (service) and recovery through an ongoing self-reflection process through the 12 Steps of the program (recovery).  However, for many people in recovery, especially those with some continuous sober time, these practices can become rote.  So in addition to doing all of these actions, there must be an honest reflection about whether these practices feel alive or if they have become rote.  

Beyond the practices mentioned and assessing the aliveness of them, it is important to cultivate relationships that the addict feels safe in being fully transparent.  In AA, for some, this shared transparency will only occur in the sponsorship relationship.  However, it is valuable to cultivate more than one relationship where absolute transparency feels safe, so that you have a network of support.  It is also important to recognize that being fully transparent in all of your relationships is not necessarily healthy either.  It is part of the recovery journey for many addicts to learn how much to disclose in each relationship according to the social context of the relationship.  

Finally, the goal is for recovery to become a lifestyle.  In the beginning, it can be overwhelming to take on so much change yet we must move towards these goals with daily actions.  As time goes on, recovery needs to begin to feel like an integrated essence across all facets of our life rather than being a siloed compartment of our life.  Yet, it takes time for this transformation to occur and it is imperative to support the addict with being focused on the goal while also gentle with the process.


Enlightened Recovery Solutions offers a harmonious approach to holistic treatment, bringing together the best of evidence-based, alternative, and 12-step therapies. Call us today for information on our transformation programs of treatment for addiction and alcoholism: 833-801-5483.

Relapse Red Flags

Telling The Truth...Later

There’s a difference between keeping secrets and lying. People who are on the verge of relapse tend to dance right in the middle of these two versions. Though they don’t keep the lie long term, they keep a lie short term. After something has happened of which they have been lying about, they tell you later on, so that they can at least be honest. Honesty is a key to sobriety and their admittance of their lie is important. However, if this happens increasingly it's a sign that you just don’t know when they’re lying and when they’re not. The next truth might be that they relapsed and didn’t tell you.

Suddenly Busy

You’re used to hearing from the regularly. When you’re around them they’re always on their phone and answering it immediately. Suddenly they’re just not available. Routine texts and phone calls go without answer and they’re letting you know they aren’t available to talk. While they might be using at the moment, they could be contacting connects. Worse, they might be struggling with cravings so intense they don’t want to talk about them anymore, which is always a sign relapse is around the corner.

Not Taking Accountability

You’re noticing a change in their attitude and behavior which is offensive to you and to other people. Confronting them only leads to arguments, defensiveness and a reversal of blame. Everything they learned about looking for their part and taking responsibility seems to be slipping away. Relapse is an ultimate way of not having to take accountability for one’s thoughts, actions, attitudes, and behaviors.

Slacking In Their Program

Typical treatment programs are usually followed by aftercare which is a one to three time a week meeting where treatment alumni can process and check in about what they are going through. Most have opportunities to continue meeting with therapists, continue attending meetings, and keep up with their routine of recovery. Changes in those areas can snowball quickly into a relapse when they don’t get the support they need or continue to stay accountable with their peers.

Acting Out

Relapse doesn’t always mean drinking and using. Compulsive sexual behavior, self-harm, starvation, binging, breaking rules, and more are small rebellions which can lead to a relapse. Acting out usually occurs when someone is getting uncomfortable, likely because of the changes and growth they are experiencing.

Fantasizing About Using

The brain can handle only so much euphoric recall about drugs and alcohol until it starts to experience cravings. If they are suddenly talking about drinking and using without remembering how bad it got in the end, they are stuck in a cycle of euphoric recall which can trigger obsession and craving.

Criticizing Recovery

As if to justify their reasons for relapsing, they suddenly turn sour towards recovery. All sign of gratitude and appreciation for their new sober life is gone as they criticize sobriety, sober people, and their program of treatment. Sadly, they’re going out of their way to convince themselves that drinking and using is a better option, even if they don’t believe that to be true.

Convincingly “Fine”:

Sometimes the most obvious sign of an impending relapse is the least obvious sign- they’re doing really well. If they are going through a hard time, have been through recent trauma, or are processing something challenging in therapy they might compensate for their difficult feelings by being “fine”. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism. Problematically, it is easy to be convinced that one is so “fine” that it would be “fine” if they took a drink or used drugs.

Enlightened Solutions focuses on relapse prevention by helping clients create a new way of living which supports a healthy, happy, holistic lifestyle. For information on our partial care programs of treatment for men and women, call 833-801-5483.