Maintaining Sobriety Through Painful Anniversaries

Maintaining Sobriety Through Painful Anniversaries

Maintaining sobriety through a painful day can be a challenge, but with the proper preparation and help there is no reason for the following types of anniversaries to derail your recovery:

  • The day a loved one passed away
  • The day a relationship began or ended
  • The day you lost your job
  • The day you committed a crime that changed your life

During emotionally painful experiences the addicted brain frequently seeks relief in the form of alcohol or drugs, even if the addict has been clean for years. Pain is difficult for anyone to endure, but the addict is especially vulnerable to it because he knows one way to make it stop for a few hours. The key to lasting sobriety is to find a new way to cope with and relieve the pain without resorting to the use of drugs and alcohol.

Comprehensive Rehab Lays the Foundation for Recovery

Many people mistakenly believe that the process of rehabilitation is complete when a person leaves residential treatment. The truth is, though, that the end of inpatient care is just the beginning of the recovery journey. The days and weeks in rehab are an excellent opportunity to both detox safely and to learn important things about yourself and your disease. Through counseling and education addicts are encouraged to experience the following elements of personal growth and discovery:

  • Learning about the underlying emotional distress that feeds your disease
  • Becoming mindful of the emotions that you experience and the behaviors they inspire
  • Learning about your deepest feelings, fears and needs through journaling and other creative modes of expression
  • Developing healthy new ways to cope with emotional pain, anxiety and other triggers
  • Cultivating important relationships with others in recovery
  • Practicing relapse prevention techniques for future temptations

There is no one right way to work the process. The most important thing is that you take the necessary time to cultivate the skills needed to stay clean.

Long-Term Sobriety Requires Long-Term Care

Possibly the most important aspect of recovery support comes in the type of long-term recovery support you take advantage of. Aftercare is a critical resource for every recovering addict – especially the ones who feel they don’t need it. The simple fact is that regardless of how confident or excited you feel about your recovery right now, several powerful relapse triggers are waiting for you out there. What matters most is how you respond when those temptations arrive.

One of the most effective relapse prevention techniques is to actually prepare the specific response you will act out if and when a painful memory causes you to start think about getting drunk or high. If you know that the anniversary of your divorce is going to bring up painful emotions, plan ahead for that night with something like the following plan of action:

  • Call your sponsor first thing in the morning and agree to stay in contact throughout the day
  • Attend a recovery support meeting on the very day of the painful anniversary
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings
  • Read helpful books and watch helpful films
  • Make sure to get proper sleep, exercise and nutrition for several weeks prior to the anniversary

The secret to surviving a painful anniversary is to plan for the discomfort ahead of time and make sure someone else knows what you are going through.

24 Hour Relapse Prevention Helpline

If you are experiencing emotional distress right now, or are interested in long-term sobriety support, please call our toll-free helpline right away. We can help you survive this. Call now.