Once you have completed rehab, you are in a transition period until you get used to living a sober life. If you have decided to live alone, you need to know that you will likely face more challenges than someone who lives at a sober living house or with other individuals who will provide some form of accountability for your sobriety. You will face cravings and triggers to want to use again. A trigger is a feeling or even a reminder of people, places and things that led to substance abuse like to methadone in the past. Some common emotional triggers include fear, depression, anxiety, frustration and stress. Many times these triggers can even blur together in your mind. So what can you do about this? Is there a way to guard against relapse when you live alone? The following are six ways to help you protect yourself against substance abuse:
Start to Build a Life Based on Good Decisions
Don’t overthink this. Just make good healthy decisions, one at a time. Instead of spending a lot of time at home alone with nothing to do, schedule activities to keep your self busy. Take a class. Meet a friend for dessert. Volunteer to help out for a cause that you care about. Go to a Narcotics Anonymous meeting for support. Talk to your family. Spend time with encouraging, sober friends. Experiment, and don’t feel that if you do something once you have to do it forever. This especially the case with going to a support group—not all of them are the same. You may find out that you just didn’t enjoy one specific group. Others will vary, and you can find one that is a good fit for you.
Let Your Good Decisions Lead You to Forming Healthy Habits
Time is required before healthy habits are established and they become routine. You will be using more mental energy at first. Over time, some of these healthy habits will become easier for you. Habits do not have to be complicated. According to the National Institute of Health, you can form habits with a simple approach. For example, you could say, “After I have lunch at home, I will have a piece of fruit.” This has been proven to be a healthy technique to help boost habit formation.
Know There Will Be Times When You Struggle
You will be tempted to use drugs like methadone again. It is unavoidable. You’re human, so this is part of the rehab process. There is nothing wrong with you. The treatment didn’t fail you. If possible, try to identify the trigger. An event, feeling or reminder is likely the trigger. Talk things over with your therapist, support group, doctor and other members of your support network to figure out what the trigger is. Maybe you had a stressful day at work or maybe you ran into an old friend with whom you formally drank.
Know Your Willpower Has Limits
According to the , research shows that resisting repeated temptation takes a mental toll. Some experts even liken willpower to a muscle that gets fatigued from being overused. Roy Baumeister did a popular experiment about willpower in 1998. For the experiment, he brought subjects into a room filled with the smell of fresh-baked cookies. The table before them had a plate of the cookies and a bowl of radishes. Some subjects were asked to sample the cookies while others were asked to eat the radishes. Afterward, they were given 30 minutes to complete a difficult geometric puzzle. The results of the experiment were clear. Those who ate radishes and resisted eating the cookies gave up on the puzzle after about 8 minutes. Those who had cookies persevered for nearly 19 minutes, on average. It seems clear that using willpower to resist the cookies actually drained self-control for other situations.
Apply this to your own situation—if you go back to your house where you used to do drugs like methadone, you are tempting yourself by default. It may sound small, but rearranging your house could actually help you stay sober. You are giving yourself a fresh start.
Form a Detailed Plan for How to Defeat Cravings
For some, the idea of planning ahead can be paralyzing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just ask a friend or even your therapist to help you figure this out by yourself. You have others around you to help. You have many who can help you. Don’t let the lack of planning ahead stop you from living a healthy life. Know who you will contact. Also know who to call if your primary contact is unavailable.
Don’t Try to Battle Your Addiction Alone
When you need help, meet with your sponsor or contact your family or close friends. Do what it takes to get yourself out of the risky situation so you can avoid relapse. Be intentional, and don’t push your limits. Many alcoholics attempt to rationalize and say “well, I’ll just have a single drink,” but this is never a good idea. In the same way, if you are a recovering heroin addict, you can’t say, “I’ll just have a small taste to feel better.” When you feel this way—you will at some point—know who you will call, and reach out. Face to face interaction is always best, so make this a priority. Text messages are not personal enough. Direct communication with someone you trust is best.
If you need someone to talk with about your recovery or your transition from rehab toward daily life, please call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. The person you will speak with is trained to help you with addiction and recovery, so you can get the information you need. Don’t delay or feel embarrassed in any way. Your call is confidential and absolutely free. Take the necessary steps toward building your healthy life away from methadone.