You’re coming to the “home stretch” of your rehab program and your exit date is just around the corner! You begin to seriously contemplate what life outside of rehab will be like. As you ponder it, you find yourself feeling two powerful emotions at the same time. On one hand you are feeling excitement as you are looking forward to getting on with your new lives, being reunited with family and going back to work or school, etc. On the other hand, there is a nagging under current of anxiety that has its roots in your fear of relapsing…especially if you’ve been in rehab before.
Below are some helpful tips on how to walk in your recovery and not in the fear of relapsing.
#1. “What’s best for my recovery?”
This is a question that you need to get used to asking yourself on a regular basis! You need to be fully aware that the hour you step out of your rehab program…”Game on!” The Bible warns us all that the Enemy is crouching like a hungry lion in the tall grass of life ready to pounce and take us out at any moment. Some of the ways you can expect attacks to come will be:
- unexpected texts or phone calls from “old friends” who want to “get together”
- family or friends inviting you to a party where you know alcohol will be served
- family holiday celebrations with unhealthy family members
- old unhealthy romantic relationships who want to “see how you’re doing”
This list of temptations can go on and on and you are probably already very familiar with many of them. When these temptations come your way…STOP!…and ask yourself, “What is best for my recovery?” Then listen to the answer you hear in your heart. This will be the message from “The Counselor” within you (the Holy Spirit) guiding you with the proper actions to take. Most likely, the action you will be hearing to take will be in conflict with how you are feeling at the moment. Your emotions will try to give you the illusion that this is too difficult to do…especially if it involves family, friends, or a romantic relationship. But The Counselor not only directs our paths, He also empowers us to walk them! TRUST HIM…TAKE THE ACTION…and the temptation will flee and you will remain in your sobriety. That victory will give you more power to overcome the next temptation when it comes. Not to mention get you more intimately familiar with the Holy Spirit with in you!
#2. Change your contact information!
This means you change your phone number(s), change your email address(s), delete all unhealthy contacts from your phone and social media. Get rid of all your secret email accounts, social media pages and phones! You MUST CLEAN HOUSE! Then when you change your phone number and email address, only give it to the people in your life that you trust and want to see you stay clean and sober! In addition, ask those you give your contact information to, NOT to give it to anyone without your permission. This may seem like a hassle and an easy one to justify for not doing, but if you don’t…you will be found by the very people you’re trying to keep out of your life that will take you back into your addiction. You must protect the gift of your sobriety with as much energy as you were in trying to stay in your addiction! This one step can go a long way in helping you feel the peace and joy of your newfound freedom from addiction!
#3. Write a “Good-Bye” letter to your addiction!
There is something very powerful about bringing issues in our life to finality through writing. If we’re honest with ourselves, our addiction was our “Mistress”, “Lover”, “Best Friend”. It gave us the illusion that it was taking something away from our lives that was very painful and giving us “relief”. The only problem, of course, was that after the high was gone, the pain was still there and we became a little more “dead”…inside and out. So, just as we would say, “Good-Bye” to any relationship that we choose to move on from, we need to do the same with your addiction.
Sit down with a pad of paper and a pen and before you begin, picture your addiction as a real person with an appearance and personality. Remember the pain, destruction, mayhem, brokenness and devastation that Mr. or Miss Addiction ushered into your life. Begin to write your “Good-Bye”! Let your words be powerful, direct, honest and FINAL to Addiction! Do NOT leave the back door open for it! Kick it out the front door and change the locks! After you write this letter, frame it and hang it up some place that you will see every day. For the next 30 days, read this “Good-Bye” letter in the morning when you wake up and in the evening when you go to bed. Then read it once a day after the initial 30 days. This will serve as a strong reminder to you when temptation comes your way that this relationship is OVER!
#4. Write a list of all your pain!
This goes hand in hand with tip #3. After you have written, framed and hung up your “Good-Bye” letter to Addiction, the next tip is to now sit down and make a list of all the hurt, pain, broken relationships, lost jobs, sacrificed opportunities, or heartache that your addiction created for you and brought in your life. Include in that list what your addiction is waiting to bring into your life next time should you choose to invite it back. Title this list, “The Pain of My Addiction”. Just like your “Good-Bye” letter, frame this list and hang it up next to your “Good-Bye” letter. Read this list all the way through after every time you read your “Good-Bye” letter.
Why do this? Because temptation is an interesting thing…when our addiction tempts us, we almost NEVER think of the pain it will cause us or the consequences that await us if we give in to it. We only think about what it will do for us NOW and what a relief it will bring us. You know when we think about the pain and consequences? AFTER WE DO IT!! Then it’s too late! SO…let’s short circuit temptation! By reading your “Good-Bye” letter and “Pain List” every day, you will sear in your mind the pain and consequences of your addiction. So when the temptation comes, instead of fanaticizing what a great reunion you will have with your addiction, you will think of the pain and consequences! Couple that realization with the power of your intimate prayer life with God and your temptation won’t have opportunity to take root in your new life!
These are just a few tips that have proven to be helpful for many of our clients who have come through our programs at New Life Spirit Recovery. These suggestions are most effective when our connection with our God remains open and intimate on a daily basis. The truth is, no “helpful tip” by itself will keep us in recovery…there has to be Power in the tools or the tools don’t work! That Power is our personal connection with Jesus Christ!