Throughout life, there are obstacles to overcome. Addiction is certainly no exception. The journey to sobriety can be long, and obstacles will inevitably arise. Will you go over, under, or around them? Or will you stop and give up? It is all too easy to relapse and fall back into addiction. The good news is that life is full of choices. And Christ makes victory possible. “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us” (Romans 8:37, NLT).
To avoid relapse, be on the lookout for—and overcome-—the following six obstacles.
Research shows that the more stressful a recovering addict’s life is, the more likely they are to turn back to an addictive substance or behavior to cope. Don’t let stress get in the way of recovery; recognize when you are stressed and learn healthier ways to cope.
Healthy ways to cope with stress:
- Improving your work-life balance
- Breathing exercises
- Taking regular breaks
2. Difficult Emotions
Ignoring emotions, stuffing feelings down, and bottling everything up is a massive obstacle to maintaining sobriety. Experiencing emotions—like anger, sadness, or fear—provides a powerful growth opportunity. Try writing in a journal, seeing a counselor in the New Life Counseling Network, and talking to a friend about your feelings.
3. People and Places
No matter how well recovery is going, it’s tempting to see old friends and go to the same old places. Try brainstorming with a mentor or accountability partner about how to respond. For example, suppose a recovering alcoholic is asked by their coworkers to go out for a drink after work. In that case, they can respond by saying, “No, thank you. I already have plans,” then call up a friend or an accountability partner and talk with them instead of giving in to temptation.
As one increases in their ability to stay sober, they may think that it’s okay to isolate themselves and skip recovery meetings altogether. However, attending a recovery group every week is a great strategy to prevent a relapse. There are numerous Life Recovery Group meetings online and in-person, so there’s no excuse to stay isolated. Attending recovery meetings every week can be a life-saving decision. Schedule going to a meeting regularly and actively participating in it—this will help you deal with emotional struggles inside and keep from acting out.
Being overconfident in recovery can lead to complacency. In Life Recovery Groups, warnings about complacency are often part of the discussion. It is vital to remain active and humble so that complacency doesn’t undermine your sobriety. If you feel as if the “hard part” is over and that the work has been done, you’ll be more likely to relapse and fall back into addiction.
6. Holidays and Celebrations
Everyone is celebrating during the holidays, so it’s easy to think, “I deserve a night off.” But sobriety doesn’t take a vacation day, holiday, or night off. Instead of going out for the night or going over to a party that might not be the best environment, have a plan, such as inviting sober friends or your Life Recovery Group over for a nice meal and to watch movies together.
Struggling with sobriety? Has it been hard to overcome these and other obstacles? Please know we are here for you! Call 800-NEW-LIFE.
By Kimberlee Bousman