Life after Fellowship Hall, maintaining recovery in the “real” world….

June 8, 2020
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During treatment, you were sheltered from the temptations of the outside world. You were provided with constant care, contact with the outside world was limited, and you had access to meetings, counseling, monitoring, and support, around the clock. All of these support mechanisms help you through the inevitable relapse triggers you experience in the early stages of recovery.

But what about life after leaving Fellowship Hall?

For anyone who is newly sober, learning to adapt and maintain your recovery in the “real” world again is a challenge.  No longer protected by the shield of in-patient treatment, you must begin rebuilding your life by finding ways to cope with your personal triggers.

Think about the trigger mechanism of a gun; it must be pulled to spark the reaction that releases a bullet from the chamber. For those in recovery, relapsing can be viewed in the same light—people, places and things, or our feelings and thoughts, can pull that trigger.  Without coping skills and immediate action, this pull of the trigger will put you right back where you started, back in your active addiction. These triggers during your early recovery may begin with something as small as a thought, which then leads to a craving, which then leads to a relapse. Once the bullet of a gun leaves the chamber, you can’t put it back, the choice is permanent. In many ways, a relapse is the same: it takes you right back to ground zero of your recovery— if you are lucky enough to survive it.

Each day life brings new challenges, new situations, and perhaps even unfamiliar feelings that you once numbed with substances. This is particularly true right now. We are all dealing with a new reality and trying to navigate our recovery in that new reality.

During early recovery, you are essentially an infant in the world of emotional sobriety while you establish your new personal base-line. Each individual is different in their disease, making it crucial for you to recognize what personally triggers you. Once you identify these triggers, you may then work to avoid them…

Here are seven steps to help YOU face your relapse triggers:

  1. Be aware of complacency, euphoric recall, and forgetting the pain that addiction has caused. Get in touch with the pain that your substance use caused.
  1. Be conscious not to drift away from recovery. Regular AA and NA attendance is extremely important. It’s an easy and common mistake for people to reduce meeting attendance, stop calling a sponsor, or just stop going to AA/NA altogether! Today that means adapting to the online meeting world, and making phone calls is more important than ever.
  2. Remember the H.A.L.T concept.  When you become restless, irritable, and discontent, ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?”  If so, these feelings could increase the risk of relapse.  Only you have the power to address these feelings with the recovery tools you now possess.
  3. Talk about feelings openly in meetings and with a sponsor.  Most people will never heal what they do not feel.
  4. Remember, the brain chemistry has been changed.  You WILL be triggered at some point in time but don’t allow a trigger to be romanced into a craving. Remember, each time you get a craving and DON’T use or drink, a new pathway in the brain is formed. Overtime, the cravings will fade.
  5. Remember to assess your motives for being around certain people or going certain places.
  6. Think before you drink or use. The time to call that sponsor is before, not after!

Even with the best-laid plans to avoid relapse triggers and prevent relapse, the risk is always there. If you get caught off guard and slip-up, it does not mean that you are a failure and doomed forever. Recovery is always possible, as long as you are willing to pick yourself up and try again–and the sooner you act after a relapse the better.

About Fellowship Hall
Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.

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