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Learning to Cope with Stress After Drug Rehab is Important to Avoid Relapse

Recovery from drug addiction is more like an ongoing path than a single milestone. The risk of relapse is very real if a person is not alert to the danger and aware of what could precipitate a stumble. A common relapse trigger is stress. It could be job pressures, the death of a loved one, relationship difficulties or some other challenge but a person's ability to manage the stress of the situation is the greatest determining factor over whether or not that event triggers a relapse.

Here are seven strategies for coping well with the stresses life is sure to throw your way:

  1. Strengthen your defenses in peace time. This age-old battle strategy also works in preventing relapse. When things are going well, use the time to build a strong support network of friends and family. They will bless and strengthen you when times are good and prove an indispensable shelter when things get tough.
  2. Keep a can-do perspective. Attitudes are contagious. Surround yourself with those who are making forward progress on the road of recovery. Ask them for pointers and even how they handle setbacks and discouragements. Make sure people close to you are committed to your ability to change. No one is guaranteed an unhindered path of success in life, but you can create a positive atmosphere for yourself that breathes out hope rather than failure.
  3. Aftercare should not be an afterthought. Stay plugged in with any aftercare programs your treatment center may provide. Seek out support groups near you where you maintain a vigilant posture. Don't assume that you don't need the continuing guidance and support that these programs provide.
  4. Identify danger spots in advance. What is most likely to be a source of stress for you? How can you plan ahead for the best response to that stress? It may require an amazing amount of effort to push through the situation. Having a game plan ahead of time means that you don't have to be thinking well in order to choose well at a vulnerable moment.
  5. When stress occurs, take a calming breath. Even if you have a plan, slow everything down and take a deep breath. Think through what about the situation is stressful and remember that you can deal with it positively.
  6. Choose a stress-lowering activity. When you feel stress creeping in, get busy exercising, playing music, baking or reading - whatever helps you to feel relaxed.
  7. Eat healthy. Your diet can affect your energy level, alertness, even mood. You will handle stress better when you feel better. You will feel better when you eat right.

Even after drug rehab, you can't avoid problems. They are part of life. However, developing better coping skills does mean that stress does not have to equal relapse.

Posted on November 7th, 2012

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