Christian Living


Overcoming Addictions 03/05/21

Three Keys to Prevent Relapse

right and wrong arrows - relapse concept

Do you want to be free from a habit or addiction without relapse? Then you must take action to prevent it from happening. Urges WILL come! You must plan to protect yourself. 

A Lapse Is Not a Relapse

Recovery from addictions is difficult and there may be moments when a person will revisit a behavior. A one-time lapse does not equal relapse. Relapse is when the addiction or unwanted behavior has taken place multiple times and is returning to its previous pattern in a person’s life. Too often people beat themselves up and give up over a lapse. The important thing for a person to do is to focus on preventing a lapse from becoming a relapse, instead of thinking that they’ve messed up and are on a rapid descent. We hold our thoughts captive to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). In doing so, we are reaffirmed by Christ that He wants us to have victory over the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1) and we are NOT destined to relapse. 

Know Your Triggers

People, places, and things that bring stress or temptation are your triggers. Each person needs to consciously make a list of these triggers and take them to God in prayer asking for His help in finding ways to cope with these triggers. They also need to avoid triggers whenever possible. When it’s not possible, we need to have an alternate plan. For example, every time Jim leaves from visiting his elderly mother at the nursing home he is feeling blue and sometimes he stops for a beer at the neighborhood pub on his way home to cheer him up. If Jim values his sobriety, he will find another outlet to deal with his blues. He can plan ahead to have coffee with a family member or friend when he’s finished visiting. In this way, Jim has identified his trigger and substituted a healthy behavior for an unhealthy behavior.

Plan for Good Clean Fun 

Figure out what you can do locally and what activities you might enjoy in your free time. Then make it happen. Plan it. Invite people. Get involved in doing things that bring honor and glory to God. Volunteer in efforts you feel are worthy of your time. It doesn’t have to cost anything. It’s simply part of your plan to stay emotionally healthy. Find what you enjoy that doesn’t put you back in jeopardy of relapse and make it a point to plan these activities in your schedule.

There's an old saying: if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Your road to continued sobriety will be paved with detours and hazards. Develop your plan for survival.

These are three keys for relapse prevention. But there are many more. Do you have something to add? Something you’ve found helpful? Post your comments. Aid others to be prepared to encounter temptation and not relapse or ask others some questions as you prepare for victory over relapse.

Copyright © Beth Livingston, used with permission.

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