June is National Safety Month so we’re taking this time to talk about safety planning in recovery. Safety planning is all about preparing for a sober lifestyle. As with anything, the recovery journey is full of ups and downs but it is the most worthwhile journey we will ever take. It’s important to prepare ourselves for the inevitable temptations, cravings, and challenges that will come our way in our new sober lives.
Safety planning in recovery prepares us for difficult times and reminds us of the rewards we reap by remaining sober.
First, it’s important to assess what we will do if we find ourselves in a high risk situation, have slipped and used a substance, or are in crisis and considering using.
Write or print this information out and keep it with you (including phone numbers).
Who can I call to support my recovery if I am struggling or in crisis? List them.
Where is a safe space I can go if I am struggling or in crisis? List them.
My treatment center care number is:
Preventing What’s Avoidable
Remember your “why”
Remind yourself of why you are sober. Your sobriety and your reasons for it are your guiding force. Check back to this list often to make sure you don’t lose sight of your goals.
Preventing unnecessary stress
Removing the risk of unnecessary stressors in our lives can reduce triggers that may tempt us to use. Stress isn’t always one big event but several small ones that can build up over a day, week or month and cause us to lose our heads. Preventing unnecessary stressors like lost house keys or having to pay late fees because you didn’t re-register your car in time can go a long way in protecting our mental health and therefore sobriety.
Examples for organizing your life to prevent unnecessary stressors can include:
- Always put your keys in the same place.
- Keep a spare key with a trustworthy friend or family member in case you get locked out.
- Keep a file folder of important documents and information so it’s all in one place when needed.
- Set reminders in your phone of important dates like your car registration, lease agreement, driver’s license expiration etc.
- Try to build some savings to fall back on when unforeseen expenses arise (if possible, of course)
Identify high risk people in your life
This is one of the hardest parts of recovering, realizing that there are people in your life, who you may even consider close friends, who can put your sobriety at risk. It might be someone you used to use with, or it could be someone who is emotionally abusive or triggering. Whatever the reason, making a list of high risk people and setting boundaries to protect your sobriety is an important part of safety planning.
Keep a list of tools and actions that support your sobriety
Often we may struggle because we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Having a list of ways you can support your sobriety is helpful. Use them when you realize you are not putting yourself first. This list can be acts of self-care that you find helpful, activities you do to keep your head clear, or people you can see or talk to who make you feel safe and supported. Sometimes we forget all the different tools we have, keeping a list can be a good reminder for when you find yourself in need of support.
Preparing for the Unavoidable
Writing down and identifying triggers and early warning signs such as certain behaviors or changes in your attitude towards recovery are important so you can catch yourself early. Remember HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you’ve relapsed in the past, include the triggers that led to that path in this list.
What to do when cravings happen
What are some coping strategies I can use when cravings come up? List them. Examples could be going for a run, calling a friend or sponsor for support, or engaging in a hobby to keep your hands occupied. These should be actions that can be taken specifically to distract yourself from cravings rather than self-care acts.
Things I can say if someone offers me a drink or drugs
It’s good to have some go-to lines tucked away for instances like this. Whether you want to explain that you are in recovery or opt not to give an excuse and simply say no, being prepared with your answers ahead of time will help when the moment comes.
What If I Relapse?
The purpose of safety planning is to support your recovery and prevent relapse. When committing to sobriety, the goal is maintain this new lifestyle long-term, but relapses do happen to some people. Having a plan in place can mean the difference between relapse as a slip and a full-blown reactivation.
Create a plan for who you will call, where you will go, and who will take care of your children or pets (if applicable). Remember this does not give you immunity from relapsing, it is a worst case scenario plan. Be aware that if you are tempted to pick up, do not use the same dosage as you did before as your sobriety has lowered your tolerance.
Lastly, if you do relapse, know that treatment can help get you back on the right track. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, addiction, or relapse contact us today. At Harmony Recovery Group we are here to help.