What You Should Know About Preventing An Opiate Relapse
Guest Post by Camille Johnson
It’s no secret that the U.S. is in the midst of an opioid crisis. Recent news suggests that more than 9.5 million Americans have become dependent on — or abused — some form of opioids, including legal, doctor-prescribed painkillers like hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and illegal drugs like heroin.
Treatment for such an addiction is a difficult and arduous process that includes addressing short and long-term brain damage; and dealing with severe withdrawal symptoms like pain, seizures, diarrhea, nausea, and hypertension. Some of these physical symptoms can trigger a relapse, so it’s important to find reliable self-care tactics to stay focused and motivated so you can continue to live a happy and healthy drug-free life.
Know When Medication-Assisted Treatment May Be Necessary
While it’s not for everyone, research suggests that medication-assisted therapy can help a recent recovery survivor with withdrawal symptoms and relapse. Because opioid users feel like they need to keep using to avoid withdrawal, it can be hard to quit — but by introducing medications like methadone and buprenorphine, the cycle can be broken.
Since those drugs are also opioids, this method of treatment should only be done under a doctor’s supervision. When administered correctly, cravings are reduced and withdrawal symptoms stop. Although it is a controversial treatment, studies show it has cut the mortality rate of opiate users in half.
Do One Thing Each Day That Makes You Happy
If you have one thing to look forward to each day, it’s easier to stay motivated about the future. Perhaps this is an exercise that helps you gradually re-introduce things into your life that you gave up when you were struggling with an addiction. This could be anything from taking a walk along the beach to playing with your pet to date night with your spouse — sometimes the simplest of moments have the greatest impact.
This is the perfect time to engage in a form of physical fitness that works on your brain, too. Activities like yoga and swimming are good options because you’re connecting with your spiritual side and the elements — both of which can be extremely therapeutic. It’s common for recovery survivors to be in a weakened state after a period of neglect. However, both yoga and swimming are relatively low-impact activities that can build muscle mass and increase endurance over time. Make a point to keep your mind active by practicing mediation, and soon your whole body will be more alive than ever before.
Keep A Journal
Experts suggest keeping a journal to help prevent a relapse. Record emotions related to things that bother you (in one sentence or less), how you’re feeling at the moment, any actions you took — or plan to take — to solve your problem. If you need to reach for the phone to talk to your therapist, counselor, or coach, you’ll have a relatively organized documentation of your thoughts to help immediately address a potential relapse.
Stress can be a potent reason for relapse. As such, it’s important to weed it out wherever you can, starting with work. Your job can be the root of your stress or contribute to it; either way, it’s necessary to manage how it affects you. If your job as a whole makes you miserable, accept this, and then make an effort to find something new. If it’s the ups and downs of working from home, you can counteract stress by picking up a hobby, taking dedicated breaks, regularly talking to colleagues and changing up your routine.
Consider your home next. Keeping your home clean and clutter-free, stocked with healthy foods and filled with natural light can make a significant difference in stress. Add a few plants and some soothing artwork, and you can turn your home into more of an oasis.
Taking care of yourself during recovery can feel like a new and daunting task. By investing in yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually, you will live a more fulfilling and happy life. Should you have a relapse, remember it’s not a failure. For many, the path to recovery can be a work in progress, so speak to your counselor, doctor, or support group immediately so you can get back on track. Photo Credit:Pexels
Thank you to Camille Johnson the author of this guest post. For more of her wisdom please visit her at bereaver.com
Author Bio: Camille created Bereaver after she went through the ups and downs of the bereavement process herself following the loss of her parents and husband. With the help of her friend who was also experiencing a loss of her own, she learned how to grieve the healthy way, and she wants to share that with others. There is no one way to grieve, but it is important to do it in a way that supports your physical and mental health throughout.