By Elizabeth Rosselle

Successfully completing a treatment program after maintaining our sobriety for an entire stint in rehab can be one of the most rewarding things in life for a recovering addict or alcoholic. Getting sober is no walk in the park, which is probably the reason why the vast majority of addicts and alcoholics don’t choose this path even if they know they have a problem. For those who do, however, it can lead to a profoundly fulfilling life brimming with the kind of freedom only an addict in recovery understands. 

Nevertheless, it’s more than likely that we’ll continue to have cravings from time to time, even after treatment. The trick is learning how to manage them. 

Here are some tried-and-tested ways that can help combat the urge to drink or use if and when it arises:

Understand your triggers.

We all have different sets of circumstances, groups of friends, or actual places that can trigger us to want to pick up. These are almost always based on past experiences. In treatment, your counselors should guide you through a process that involves identifying your triggers. This is a very important step. While you may think you know yourself, your addictive mind is usually pretty active in the background, so arm yourself with the tools to combat this. Know your triggers inside and out, and use the tools you were given in rehab to avoid or control your triggers to the best of your ability. This will be one of the first big steps toward maintaining your sobriety. 

Avoid risky situations.

Your sobriety is particularly precious in early recovery, so treat it as such. If there’s a party, event, place, or other engagement where you think you might be tempted to drink or use, the best thing is to avoid it. You won’t always have to do this, so don’t feel like you’re going to be opting out of social gatherings for the rest of your life. Once again, just be aware of your triggers and don’t put yourself in vulnerable situations. Over time, it will get much easier to actively participate in all aspects of life, regardless of whether or not drugs and alcohol are present. But, until you feel like you’ve got a solid handle on your recovery, nurture it. 

Attend recovery meetings and stay connected to a sober community.

Addicts and alcoholics who work a recovery program after the standard 28 days in treatment have a much higher chance of staying sober than those with no continued support. The great thing about programs like AA, NA, or other community-based abstinence models is that they’re generally free and they provide you with a design for living that works. If you were a cancer patient or a diabetic, you probably wouldn’t stop taking your medicine, right? Think of recovery programs as your medication, only they don’t come with the hefty price tag. They do, however, come with a built-in support community and they keep a lot of people sober, particularly those who remain consistent. 

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While having a set of tools is going to give you the absolute best shot at maintaining your sobriety, you may still encounter situations where cravings arise. One of the most important things to remember is that this is normal and you’re not a bad person if you have the urge to drink or use. Also, the craving will pass. Think of it like a feeling—a feeling which, of course, isn’t a fact. Your feelings come and go, just like your cravings. 

That said, if you’re struggling to cope with your urges, call for backup. Try to get one of your rehab counselors on the line and speak with them. Or, if you’re in a twelve-step program and you have a sponsor, give him or her a call and tell them how you’re feeling. If you don’t have these people in your life or you can’t reach them, call someone else in recovery and talk to them instead. 

Connection is one of the most powerful tools we have once we get sober and, luckily for us, there’s a huge global community of people in recovery. So, unless you went to rehab alone or you’re staying sober in your bedroom, you likely have people you can call—people who will understand exactly what you’re going through. Lean on them. 

Kembali Recovery Center can Help

If you or someone you love is struggling to get sober or stay clean, Kembali Recovery Center can help. Contact us today to learn more about our rehab and treatment programs. You don’t have to do this alone. 

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