Coping Skills for Drug and Substance Abuse Recovery
While many people suffering from drug and substance abuse find ways to sobriety, relapse is common. Surprisingly, between 40 and 60% of addicts on their path to recovery relapse. Unfortunately, addiction relapse often comes with severe consequences. For instance, the individual on the path to recovery may not realise a decline in their tolerance, leading to overdose and death. Since relapse is normal and expected, most treatment centers have developed addiction relapse prevention measures to reduce these rates. One of the many relapse prevention measures is developing various Coping Skills for Drug and Substance Abuse Recovery.
What Are Coping Skills for Addiction Recovery?
Coping skills are ideally characteristic or behavioral patterns that improve drug and substance abusers’ adaptation to the new lifestyle changes. Positive coping skills help addicts stay focused and healthy when faced with stressful situations.
Unfortunately, recovering addicts can sometimes revert back to negative or unhealthy coping mechanisms. For instance, some may start abusing substances as their primary coping strategies.
If you are recovering from addiction, you should find appropriate coping strategies to avoid relapsing. This requires the identification of negative and unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as:
- Substance abuse – smoking and alcohol use
- Avoidance behaviors
- Over or under eating
- Sleeping throughout the day
- Excessive spending
Why Are Coping Skills for Drug and Substance Abuse Important in Recovery?
Healthy coping skills in addiction recovery help affected users maintain abstinence from substance abuse. The goals of developing healthy coping skills are the same, regardless of your preferred coping mechanism. Like drug and alcohol abuse, coping mechanisms are more of habits formed over time. They help recovering addicts deal with hard or stressful situations.
Positive coping skills help recovering addicts deal with challenging situations successfully amidst their present debilitating feelings. Once learned, these skills allow the person to engage in activities that motivate and toughen their mental health as they deal with various negativities during recovery.
Increasing stress levels and hard situations during recovery can drive people to various compulsive behaviors to relieve discomfort. These behaviors include gambling or relapsing to drug abuse. Unfortunately, they only provide temporary relief and harden the recovery journey.
Some coping strategies, such as excessive shopping, sex, gambling, video games, and binge eating, are compulsive and maladaptive. If the recovering addict relies on these strategies to cope with sobriety, they can eventually become addicted to them because they trigger the same chemicals triggered by drugs and alcohol in the brain.
Positive Addiction Recovery Coping Skills
Changing your lifestyle and habits is not easy. However, developing these coping skills can make your addiction recovery journey less challenging and avoid relapse.
1. Learn to Relax
Most people abuse drugs and alcohol to relieve their stress and relax. Therefore, by learning how to relieve your stress and relax, you won’t necessarily rely on drugs to calm down. Several therapeutic practices, such as dialectical behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, can help recovering addicts handle all presenting situations.
Developing new ways to de-stress makes overcoming addiction and maintaining sobriety easier and less challenging. Common ways to relax and reduce stress include:
- Walking or other forms of exercise
- Enjoying nature
- Deep breathing exercises
- Warm baths
- Listening to music
- Yoga and other relaxation techniques
2. Develop a Social Support Network
It is common for people struggling with addiction recovery to withdraw from healthy relationships and instead develop self-destructive behaviors. If you are struggling to become sober or maintain sobriety, you should work on your social network. Developing or reconnecting with previous supportive relationships can help recovering addicts develop self-acceptance and a sense of belonging.
Be it rekindling old relationships with family members and colleagues severed by addiction or making new friends, developing positive relationships is crucial for successful recovery. Having a social network banishes loneliness and acts as a sounding board throughout recovery.
When developing new relationships in recovery, it is important to become connected with the right people. Developing a life centered around recovery commonly involves active work in a 12 step program, finding sponsorship, and participating in fellowship. One addict in recovery working with another is a proven method to help create a solid foundation for long lasting recovery and relationships.
3. Meditate and Develop Mindful Practices
Meditation and mindfulness during recovery can help you work through the challenging thoughts, emotions, and situations and concentrate on the present. In most cases, people struggling with addiction or to maintain sobriety often stick with their past thoughts or linger too much in the future, such that it distracts them from being in the present.
Being mindful during recovery encourages you to be present in the current moment. This is a way to deal with things as they come, not berating yourself for the past, or creating unrealistic expectations for the future. Doing this can better accept your situation and focus on maximising other addiction coping skills.
Meditation and mindfulness can help recovering addicts by:
- Improving self-control
- Encouraging a flexible approach to life
- Improving concentration and mental clarity
- Increasing kindness and compassion
- Improving emotional intelligence
- Reducing stress and anxiety
Recovering from drug and alcohol addiction is a stressful process. However, meditation and mindfulness can help manage and balance agonising and distressing situations.
4. Journal to Track Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Experiences
Journaling is another effective coping skill that helps track your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Through journaling, you can keep an inventory of your recovery journey and identify where you’ve improved and what you need to work on. Journaling regularly also helps:
- Relieve stress
- Boost memory
- Keep you on track
- Solve problems
- Promote healing
- Improve communication skills
- Inspire creativity
5. Avoid Triggers
Maintaining sobriety requires a complete change in normal lifestyle and habits. Therefore, avoiding triggers is an effective coping skill for successful addiction recovery. You should avoid people, situations, emotions, and places that make you afraid, sad, or angry. Don’t hesitate to protect your sobriety by evading high-risk situations.
6. Exercise and Maintain an Active Lifestyle
Physical fitness also benefits physical and mental health. Exercising reduces stress and increases the production of endorphins, which elevates mood. Adding simple exercises like walking, swimming, bike riding, jogging, and hiking to your daily routine is beneficial to addiction recovery.
Get Help Today
Addiction recovery is a lengthy process that can easily become overwhelming, exhausting, stressful, and frustrating. However, the above list of coping skills for addiction recovery can make rehabilitation a positive and overly rewarding experience. If you or your loved one is battling addiction or struggling to maintain sobriety, you should seek help from an addiction recovery center.