Sober After Trauma: 10 Simple Ways To Prevent Relapse When Triggered

The Trauma-Mama Guide To Staying Sober During Triggering Times-www.bettysbattleground.com

Life is hard.

PTSD is hard.

Staying sober is hard.

When you have PTSD, and an addiction history, and your life suddenly weaponizes against you, staying sober becomes a monumental feat.

Right now, my life is a landmine of triggers. I lost someone I considered a good friend, who I cared about and was unbelievably hurt to learn didn’t care so much about me. If you have been following my blog at all, you know that losing these long-time friends is a deep fear of mine. Then, I had to attend a Family Court Services interview in which I was asked to disclose the intimate details of my worst abuses to a stranger; I haven’t even disclosed a lot of this stuff to my therapist yet. And, that was only the first half of the interview. I have to go back next week. In a couple of days, I have to actually see my abuser. I’ll be in the safety of a court room with my big, BBJ trained husband by my side, but still…I have PTSD. It’s not cool.

Needless to say, it’s been a tough couple weeks.

Once upon a time, I would be high out of my mind right now and approaching an overdose.

But I’m not. I’m sober. And not by chance. I have worked really, really hard to have a clear head right now. So today I am going to share with you some of the tricks I have used to keep myself from relapsing despite being assaulted by triggers for two weeks straight.

I should tell you guys that I do not adopt the 12-step mentality, which commands that once you’ve had a problem with a substance, you can never get intoxicated again. I do smoke weed (I live in a state where it’s legal) and drink alcohol occasionally.  I am able to control myself, and I do my best not to use these things in a self-medicating context as that is a dangerous action which could lead me back into an addiction. I’m not smoking or drinking now, for example. But I just thought I should tell you, for the purposes of full disclosure, that every once in a while I’ll kick back and have a couple tokes or drinks after the kiddos have gone to bed.

That being said, these tools can help you stay sober in whatever form of sobriety you choose. They can help you stay 100% abstinent from all mind-altering chemicals (okay that’s a lie; oxygen is a mind-altering chemical and I can’t help you with that…but you know what I mean) or they can just help you avoid the substances that cause you problems. I respect whatever form of sobriety you have chosen for yourself. Recovery is hard. Judgment does not help (hear that Anonymous folks??)

Without further ado…


The Trauma-Mama Guide To Staying Sober Even When You’re Triggered

10 Ways To Stay Sober When Triggered, Learn How at www.bettysbattleground.com

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1. Stay Busy

Have you heard that one before? Well, hear it again! Staying busy is so important for sobriety. Ever seen the movie “Trainspotting?” You know, where Ewan McGregor makes heroin addiction look sexy (ugh)? Well, there’s a part where he’s talking about relapse. And it’s not the pain of the withdrawals that make him relapse…it’s the boredom.

Boredom is arguably the biggest contributor to relapse. If you want to stay sober, don’t get bored. When you’re triggered, you’re especially susceptible. You have the perfect cocktail of anxiety, depression, and boredom. Your drug of choice is going to start looking real purrrty. And she’s going to be really hard to resist.

Don’t put yourself in that position. Hopefully you have been sober long enough to have fostered some new habits and hobbies. Use those tools. For me it’s writing and, since January, blogging. For you it could be baking, or jogging, or hell! Just watching Netflix. It’s Netflix for me too actually..you can (and should) have more than one. The more healthy ways to keep your mind occupied, the better. I’m not talking the “normie” version of healthy either. By healthy I mean, not damaging to your life.  If you need to settle down with your X-Box for a few days and stuff yourself with donuts to keep from shooting heroin, as long as it’s a short term activity, go for it.

2. Show Gratitude To The People Who Care About  You

This has been a big struggle of mine. I have been called ungrateful for years by a large number of people. I was offended by that accusation. I felt it was unfair. Then I realized that it was true.

Well, not exactly, but I could see why others thought it. I do feel gratitude; deep, sentimental gratitude toward the people who help me. Gratitude that sometimes makes my ribs feel like they are going to burst and brings tears to my eyes in the private quiet of deep night. But it is really, really hard for me to express that gratitude. One of the crueler trends of The Ex’s abuse was that he would often beat me after I did something nice or expressed love or gratitude to him. It was so consistent that I developed deep-seated cherophobia and became terrified to show anyone affection or gratitude.

I’m probably not alone in this. Cherophobia is a pretty common symptom of PTSD. People who have a history of trauma are going to have difficulty expressing and sometimes even feeling gratitude. It’s just part of the territory.

Difficult doesn’t always mean bad, however. It is worth working through this particular difficulty to express gratitude to those who are helping us through tough times. Last Sunday I started The S/O Challenge, which I highly recommend to anyone in a committed, non-abusive relationship. In it, I challenged myself to write out ten reasons why I love my husband. If that doesn’t apply to you, modify it. Write out ten reasons why you love whomever it is your life that you love. It could be your best friend. It could be a sibling, a cousin, a co-worker. It could even be your pet. It could be a combination; maybe you have more than one support. Whoever sincerely helps you get by during dark times, write them this list. Then share it with them. You can post it online like I did, or if you’d rather be more private, e-mail it to them or read it to them aloud. Expressing gratitude will make them feel good, which will make you feel good, and all those happy brain chemicals are going to help you stay sober.

Writing this list will also help you to remember that you are not alone, and that there is at least one person who cares deeply for you. New science is revealing that addiction is a social disorder; reminding yourself, as concretely as possible, that you are not alone will be a huge deterrent to relapse.

3. Treat Yourself

I wish I could attribute this to the blogger who first introduced me to this idea, but unfortunately I read it years ago, when I was not sober, as I was taking my first stumbling steps toward recovery. The instructions were for addicts in their first couple weeks of sobriety, and they directed us to use the money we would have spent on drugs instead buying something nice for ourselves.

I could go on a tangent about what’s wrong with telling addicts to use the money we would have spent on drugs in another way…but I’ll save that for another time.

I’m going to put a spin on the idea that doesn’t have to involve money. Just do something nice for yourself. Pamper yourself. If you can afford to take yourself to a spa or buy yourself that flattering dress you’ve been eyeing, do it. But if funds are tight, you can cook yourself a tasty meal instead of going out. You can give yourself a makeover with the tools you have available. If you have just a little bit of money, you can do what I do and head over to your local Goodwill on Monday…Mondays are $1.79 day for whatever color tag is on sale that week! You’d be amazed at how many awesome things I have scored for $1.79 on Mondays at Goodwill…from a whole collection of cute new clothes, to a train table for my kiddos, to a beautiful decorative light which I was able to re-sell for $50! That’s my way of treating myself.

If thrifting isn’t your thing, do whatever makes you feel good. You know what you like! Seriously, treat yourself. In one way or another, do something nice for yourself. You are having a hard time. Giving yourself a reason to smile is the smartest thing you can do if you are committed to staying sober.

4. Remind Yourself That It’s Okay

I am starting to become a big believer in the power of list making. Words are tools, and tools have power. Use that power to your advantage. Help groove your brain into healthy thinking by physically writing down a list reminding yourself that your life is okay. I originally got the idea from this blog post, which is totally not related to sobriety or recovery, but the concept definitely can be tweaked to help us.
Your life may not be great right now. It may even suck. A lot. Still, I guarantee, there are things that are okay. This isn’t quite a gratitude list. When you’re feeling super triggered, accessing your feelings of gratitude is pretty hard, and I’ve already had you do that once, about the person or people who care for you. I’m not going to make you do it again. This time, write down what’s just okay. You may want to fix these things in the future, but right now you can live with them. Right now, they’re okay.
A short example from my life:
It’s okay that my husband and I have not been spending a lot of time together.
It’s okay that we still owe $250 to the electric company, because we paid enough to keep our lights on.
It’s okay that we are not getting food stamps right now due to an error.
It’s okay that my therapist is on vacation during this triggering time.
It’s okay that I don’t have cable and have missed the entire past season of The Walking Dead.
It’s okay that my blog isn’t growing as quickly as I would like.
It’s okay that I’m struggling.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. It’s a list of things that I could have easily framed in negative terms…”it sucks that my husband and I have not been spending a lot of time together…” but instead I am choosing to frame them more neutrally. It’s okay. It will pass. It can be fixed. It’s okay.

Write your list and share it in the comments if you feel so inclined! I’d love to see what you come up with.

5. Practice Mindfulness

www.bettysbattleground.com-Find out nine other ways to STAY SOBER during triggering times

This isn’t the first time I have recommended a mindfulness practice, and it won’t be the last.

When people hear mindfulness, they often think of sitting meditation. I have nothing inherently against sitting meditation. I just can’t do it, and neither can a lot of trauma patients. It has too much trigger potential, and if you’re already triggered, I wouldn’t even recommend giving it a try until you’re feeling better.

But there are other ways to be mindful, and mindfulness is a great way to ground yourself in your body and your reality in a non-threatening way. This type of grounding is really important to sobriety. Being an addict is terrible. Taking drugs, if you really think about it, is insane. You’re literally poisoning yourself. In order to relapse, you have to disconnect from both your intellect and your survival instincts. Mindfulness helps you connect with those faculties, which in turn helps you make the good decision not to use.

Some of my favorite mindfulness techniques are yoga, walking meditation, and mindful cooking.You can see that these are all forms of moving meditation. While sitting meditation requires a level of stillness which can be uncomfortable for trauma survivors, moving meditation provides for a much more concrete focal point than just breathing. This diminishes the possibility that your mindfulness practice will turn into a flashback. Mindful cooking is an especially safe one, in my opinion, because there are so many sensory anchors involved.

6. Go On A Trip

I’m not talking a huge random vacation, which can be both expensive and stressful. Go on a day trip somewhere. It can even just be a long bus or train ride to a random suburb you have never visited before. Or, if you have the means, go down to the nearest city or adjacent state, or maybe a cool state park.  Try to avoid somewhere super seedy, because drugs are everywhere and if you take a trip to a slum, that could trigger, rather than prevent, a relapse.

Breaking routine is a great way to prevent the doldrums; those nasty little henchmen of addiction. Plus, it will literally take you away from your connects. Sometimes, when you are feeling especially triggered, you just need to physically remove yourself from the people and places where you know you can score.

Try to keep it low-key and stress-free. A state park or somewhere that’s a train ride away are ideal.

7. Tell People That You’re Struggling

If you’re like me, you have an easier time telling a lot of people about your problems in an impersonal way than telling just one or two people intimately. Some people get annoyed by Facebook posts about your struggles, but to hell with them! This is about you. If blogging about your struggles or posting on Facebook is what helps you, do it. People who care will respond, and the ones who get annoyed by it will scroll past and move on with their lives.

If telling a close friend is easier for you, then go that route. Just make sure you tell at least one caring person that you are struggling with your sobriety. It’s best if you are able to word it that clearly, but if you’re not comfortable telling people the exact nature of your struggle, say something like “I am having a really hard time right now I need some extra support.” Here, I’ll help you:

Remember earlier when I mentioned that addiction is a social disorder? It’s true. Addiction arises, partially, out of an unmet desire for connection. If you are able to meet that need for connection through social interaction, you have a lower chance of trying to also meet it with drugs. Support is important. Asking for help when you need it is a valuable skill and there is no better time to cultivate it.

8. Find Healthier Ways To Escape

Substance abuse is a form of escapism. I think we can all agree on that, right? Let’s be honest: Escapism is important. We all do it. Human existence is heavy, and stressful, and dull, and sometimes traumatic. Yes, there are great things about existence too, but you can’t deny that sometimes it’s truly a drag. So, we escape.

Problems arise when we escape too often, or in unhealthy ways. I have done more than my fair share of unhealthy, obsessive escapism. When I’m going through a particularly triggering time, I want to escape more than ever. While popping a benzo or two with a rum chaser (or two) sounds fantastic, it comes with some nasty side effects. Like acting a fool. Or endangering my kids. Or blacking out without even knowing I’m blacking out. Or dying.

It’s good to figure out ways that will help you escape when you need to, but which won’t endanger your health or family. For me, those things are watching Netflix, and reading speculative fiction. For my new blogger buddy Sheila O’Donnell, who also has PTSD, it’s laying on comfy blankets and listening to music. Comfy blankets are important to me too, by the way.

For you it could be painting, or playing video games. This is kind of similar to #1  (staying busy, remember?) but it’s more specific. Staying busy can be anything. It can be shopping for groceries, or playing with your kids. This one specifically directs you to put distance between yourself and reality. You can’t do it constantly. You can’t do it while you’re in any kind of active caregiver position. But you can do it occasionally, after the kids have gone to bed or whatever responsibilities you have throughout the day are put to rest. Allow yourself to escape into the reality of a good book, or song, or whatever, just for a little while.

9. Work Out

Did that one make you cringe a little? I feel ya. I used to hate fitness. I did not do it. Not one little bit. I was always the most inflexible kid in my class and I did not care. Actually I was secretly super embarrassed, because I felt like my inflexibility was innate and unfixable, but I acted like I didn’t care, and that’s what counts, right?

Okay no, but that was years ago. When my husband and I first embarked on a serious recovery journey together, he introduced me to fitness. I became addicted. Which is actually quite a common phenomenon within the chemical/trauma recovery community, so maybe you already do it!

Drop two kids into the mix and I’ve had to tone it down..a lot. I don’t go to the gym anymore. I own jogging shoes but almost never run. I don’t have the funds for a yoga membership, but I do make a point of engaging in at least twenty minutes of some kind of fitness every day.

It makes a big difference. Really. Those yummy endorphins give me a sweet little rush, and my overall mood throughout the day improves. Fitness is not a magical fix-all. I still experience anxiety; I’m still vulnerable to triggers, but they are lessened. It helps. If all you can do is stretch in your living room, do it. If all you can do is walk briskly around your block a few times in the morning, do that. When you are able to do something more strenuous, try to push yourself. I recommend keeping a daily fitness routine all the time, but it is especially important to be vigilant when you’re going through triggering times. Fit in at least 10-20 minutes of fitness every day.

10. Write Poetry

If the fitness one didn’t make you cringe, this one did. AmIright?

Look, it doesn’t say “write poetry and then send it off to be published” or “go read at an open mic.” It just says write poetry.

In an article I wrote for SICmama, I discussed the reasons why we should teach our kids to write poetry, and they included the fact that poetry grants unique insight into confusing emotions. Well, this is true for adults too. When we go through  trauma, we experience a tumult of emotions. Our bodies and minds have difficulty processing all of the emotions, because the experiences which instigated them are so far outside of the scope of normal human experience. As a result, our ability to process emotions can become damaged. One of the side-effects of PTSD is a shortened access to the emotional spectrum. I experience anger and anxiety vividly, but not a whole lot of other emotions. That’s pretty common.

It’s not that trauma victims don’t experience those other emotions. We do. We just have such trouble processing them that we aren’t always able to feel what we feel. I know that won’t make much sense to the un-traumatized people reading this, but I bet it makes a whole lot of sense to those readers who have PTSD.

Triggers exacerbate whatever symptoms we normally experience. Emotional blunting becomes emotional numbing (besides anger or anxiety or whatever emotion isn’t blunted) during a PTSD episode. That sucks, and drugs could help…but they have terrible side-effects, like chemical dependency. And homelessness. And death.  I don’t want to go back down that road, and if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you don’t either. Writing poetry will allow you to open up and access some of those emotions that you want and need to feel, without getting high.

Don’t worry about whether your poetry is good or whatever. It’s just for you. The act of engaging with your emotions deeply enough to verbalize them, and turn them into metaphors/similes/etc will help you access them, which will in turn, remove some of the appeal of drugs. Don’t write about anything that will further trigger you. Writing about your current experience of being triggered is a great topic to choose. Or you could write about a happy memory and help yourself access some positive emotions.

***

And here we are!

Those, Readers, are the ten tools I have been using during these trigger-heavy couple weeks to keep myself from relapsing into substance abuse. I still feel depressed and over-anxious. I still spent a good portion of yesterday oversleeping (a rare luxury which I was afforded because my mother-in-law is visiting). I’m still triggered. But I honestly don’t have the strong drug cravings that I did during past parallels. I can’t predict the future, but as I am writing this, I feel pretty safe in my sobriety.

I hope these ten tools will help you too. But also remember, these are things you can do from home. They aren’t intended to replace professional therapeutic support. That’s important too!

If you found these tips helpful, or if you have anything to add, please let me know in the comments.

Please also take a moment to share this post on the social media platform(s) of your choosing. It would mean the world to me, and-you never know-it may just reach someone who really needs it, all because you took sixty seconds to share it around 😉

One more thing! If you enjoyed this post, there’s more good stuff acomin’! Sign up for post updates and a cool monthly newsletter that I’ll be launching this April. You can do it on the sidebar (or below the post on mobile view) by entering your info under “Join Betty’s Army”

Thanks for reading <3

50 thoughts on “Sober After Trauma: 10 Simple Ways To Prevent Relapse When Triggered

  1. Great tips! I feel like the hardest struggle is being alone with your thoughts for too long. I find myself crying when I am stuck in traffic for too long. The best thing my friend ever told me was, “It won’t always be like this, you won’t be sad forever even though you feel like it.”

    Stay strong my love. You matter too much.

    • Thank you <3 You too. It's true; that's why I struggle with sitting meditation. Being alone with my thoughts..but other forms of mindfulness, that have stronger anchors work really well.

  2. My husband struggles with both. He wasn’t an alcoholic in the sense that he woke up drinking, but that he lost himself when he did. He couldn’t just have one with lunch or dinner. But he’d have a 6 pack, walking around trying to figure out what else he could get into. Getting arrested for kicking in an old friends door and slashing his tires on Valentines Day. Breaking and smashing beer glasses into a pool. Coming home to his pregnant wife at 3am wasted. Throwing up in the bathroom sick and high while our newborn was restlessly screaming. Not just one, because he was feeling good and wanted a break from reality. Not just two, because he has to keep up. Not just 3, because someone’s gotta finish the pack. Not just 4, because he’ll make a beer run with whoever else is with him. It’s not easy. And you have to say no when you know you’ll be faced with temptation.

    • Derika, I am so sorry that you have had to struggle with this. Loving someone with an addiction is immensely difficult. I have been there too, although he was also abusive so there were a lot of complications. If this is ever something that you want to guest post about here, you are absolutely welcome to write something for the “Tales From the Other Side” series. Just e-mail me at bettymama206@gmail.com any time.
      In any case, I appreciate your genuine comment. Addiction is incredibly hard. What your husband went through (goes through? Is he sober now?) is definitely classic addiction. I am lucky in that I am able to control myself with alcohol. My problem was always street drugs, which are hard enough. My father in law is a recovering alcoholic and he was talking about how difficult it is to have that particular addiction because alcohol consumption is so ingrained in our culture. There are billboards and advertisements everywhere. It’s in the media, casually, all the time. Alcoholism, unlike any other addiction, is sometimes viewed as a joke, or even endearing. It’s crazy. You’re last sentence is so true: You have to say no. It can be very hard. I wish you and your husband the best.

  3. I needed to read this today! I too suffer from ptsd from my birth trauma it’s obviously a complete different experience to why you suffer. I can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through & will go through over the next weeks. I wrote a post today that I’m now having second thoughts over as it’s triggered me & I can feel myself loosing control I turn to Alcohol I’m not a raging alcoholic but it’s more than the “recommended” daily allowance.
    It’s incredibly difficult to overcome these feelings & you’ve pointed out some valuable tips.

    • Hi Nicole. Thank you leaving a comment. I am glad that this helped! It is really hard to keep away from those poisons that help us. Alcohol is a common one for PTSD, so don’t ever feel ashamed about having a problem. I have been a problem drinker in the past, not an alcoholic, but close, and I have to really limit and watch myself. Opiates were my downfall. If I hadn’t gotten hooked by those it probably would have been the alcohol, but I think BECAUSE of that problem I’m no longer as enchanted by alcohol or whatever. But downers in general are easy for people with PTSD to get hooked on because they regulate our hyperaroused nervous system. It’s self-medicating…but it’s also self-destructive.

      I hear you about being triggered by writing about your trauma. Be careful! I had to fictionalize my experiences for nine years before I started blogging and writing really in depth in a non-fiction setting. I’m not saying it’s gonna take nine years for everyone, but just be careful. Writing should be healing, not harmful, and it’s triggering you, take a step back a little!

      I don’t know a lot about birthing trauma. I’ve heard about it before. I know that trauma is trauma; if something gave you PTSD, then it was traumatic and there’s no outside quantifier for that. Trauma is an inward experience and has nothing to do with what others think “should” or “shouldn’t” have been traumatic. I’m just saying that because you said something that reminded me of that common PTSD thing we all do, where we say that other people’s traumas are “worse” and “ours is different,” etc.

      If you *do* ever want to write about it, I am doing feature interviews of parents with PTSD. You can control the interview and not answer anything you don’t want answered…and it’s going on for a while so definitely not something you have to do or decide now. But if you want to look at them you can email bettymama206@gmail.com and I can send you the link to the general questions. If you think it will trigger you or you just otherwise don’t want to, don’t worry I won’t be offended or anything! I just wanted to extend the offer in case you think it’s something that may help or ever be of interest to you.

      Stay strong <3 You are important.

    • Thank you Tina. Yes, I have been dreading it. I am specifically going to ask for my no-contact order to be renewed, which means there is a possibility that my request will be denied, so that’s scary too. But I’m hanging on. The encouragement helps. Thank you.

  4. I don’t even know you and some how I know… YOU. ARE. ONE. HECK. OF. A. THOUGH. COOKIE. Wow, staying sober requires commitment and a huge pair of.. Well, you know. I’m proud of you!!

  5. I had a friend who was a veteran struggling with PTSD. A pretty severe form of it. I know he did all of this stuff and, though it doesn’t disappear altogether, it’s helped him a lot. Stay strong <3

    • Thank you for your comment Divya. Yes-absolutely. PTSD doesn’t go away. I wish it did, but it doesn’t, at least not in my experience. But like you said, these things can help.

  6. I love this. You are such a strong person! I’m sending good thoughts your way for all of your upcoming stressful situations, I can’t imagine how hard they must be! I heard a quote in a movie once “Don’t drink to feel better. Drink to feel EVEN better” I try to abide by that in they way that I drink when I’m happy, not try try to make myself happy. My personal addiction is my unhealthy lifestyle. I KNOW I’m addicted to sugar and fatty foods. I know I need to stop, but I’m really struggling. It’s not as intense as being addicted to drugs or alcohol but it is very unhealthy and dangerous as well. I love this list because I can apply it to my food addiction too! These things would all be helpful to me as far as eating less and eating more healthy foods. And working out! 😉

    • Thank you Ayana! I appreciate the encouragement…it helps. I agree..I don’t drink too often and when I do I try to do it when I’m already feeling okay. Drinking to self-medicate is a slippery slope that can lead back to addiction. Not say I don’t every once in a while but I am getting better about avoiding it (using these tools) and when I do have alcohol it’s generally 1, or 2 drinks max. These can definitely be applied to food addiction too! My background is with drug addiction and that’s what really took me down a bad path, but anything that feels out of control and unhealthy can be classified as an addiction and worth curbing. And I think these tools can help. Best of luck to you on your journey too. YOU CAN DO IT! <3

  7. These are such great tips! I know someone that I would love to have read this and I am definitely going to share it! You are so strong and I am glad that you are taking control of your life as best as you can at this time. Best of wishes to you on your journey! Thank you for sharing this post.

  8. I’m so sorry that you are struggling with this terrible ailment. It’s seems that you understand your triggers though, and that’s outstanding. Nothing worse than not understanding what constitutes a RED FLAG for YOUR personality, only to be caught unawares by it. I’m not sure if this is appropriate. You can let me know. But I’d like to add Laughter to your list. Sometimes when my thoughts are not traveling in a beneficial direction, I’ll watch a funny movie or bloopers. Laughter is good for the soul.

    Above all keep fighting. Reduce your contact with ppl who drain you. And if you believe in a Creator, talk to Him often.

    • Oh yes, laughter is definitely helpful! Finding something to make you laugh and smile always helps take your mind away, even if only for a few moments, and it releases healthy happy brain chemicals too!

  9. I am so sorry you went through such a terrible time. Friends can be so uplifting and unfortunately make us feel awful. I think it is amazing that you are so strong. I commend you for developing and using a system that works for you!

  10. I agree with you about the 12 step program. I do believe that people can drink occasionally without losing control – even if they did in the past. I don’t believe that about all addictive medications, however. I also want to caveat that with – it really depends on the person. Not everyone can do that. Some people feel that, if it worked once, it will work again – and they are back on the road to addiction.

    I really am glad that you posted this and shared that you are stuggling. Reaching out is a huge part of staying safe. I have PTSD and am agoraphobic. I know how hard it is to reach out when you feel you are going to lose people. Take care.

    • Alicia, yes, that’s a very good point. It definitely varies from person-to-person. Some people do need to abstain 100% from anything. I also agree that it is pretty much (in my opinion) limited to marijuana and alcohol. I really don’t think you can only occasionally use meth, or pop pills. There are the rare exceptions..people who have a weird amount of self control and can use hard drugs every once in a while without getting addicted, but that is SO rare that I wouldn’t recommend even trying it, haha.
      I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with PTSD and agoraphobia. I think I have social anxiety more than agoraphobia specifically, though sometimes it is extreme enough to stop me from going out. If you ever want to write something about you experiences here, you are always welcome. Just e-mail me at bettymama206@gmail.com. (no worries if you don’t either, I know it’s super personal)

  11. I’m glad you are recovering now, I know how it feels. I dealt with PTSD ten years ago, and I used to be drunk as well, gladly I wasn’t into drug abuse that time. The first thing I had to learn is to tell the people around me that I was struggling, from that time on, they helped me and gladly I recovered. This is a very helpful post. There are other people that is going through very tough times and they need to read this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well.

    • Yes, telling people that you are struggling is hard, but very key to recovery. I am glad to hear that you are doing better now Gracie!

  12. Great tips! This advice could help people through a lot of difficult situations in addition to avoiding a relapse. And great to know about Mondays at Goodwill! I’m sending good thoughts for you as you go through this rough time

    • Thanks Vicki! Yes, addiction is powerful and I think that using a variety of techniques is the best way to combat it

  13. I love this list. I think it’s very adaptable to the type of personality that you are. I know that everyone responds to things differently, so finding time to make you happy or finding things that make you happy are important. And it’s different for everyone. I have also heard that mindfulness and staying in the now is such an important part of lowering stress. We are always worried about everything else and we need to practice being where we are, right at that moment.

    • Hey David, yeah that’s definitely true. Focusing on “now” helps reduce “future tripping” which can be an especially dangerous trap for recovering addicts who often have a lot of problems to deal with because of their addiction (bad credit, damaged relationships, legal issues, health problems, etc) and thinking about the future can just be really scary because of all the unknowns. Likewise for people who have experienced a lot of trauma. I was able to avoid some of the nastier side effects of drug use through a combination of diet and luck, but because of my trauma, I don’t have such a great outlook on the future. People tend to use the past to calibrate the future, which isn’t always a valid reference. When you have a lot of bad stuff in your past, your future looks scary as hell!

      Also, another aspect of mindfulness that is really helpful for traumatized people specifically is reducing dissociation, which is a common symptom of PTSD.

      Thanks for the comment!

  14. It’s common knowledge that drugs stay in your system way after you stop feeling their effects, but how long they stay detectable depends..How Long Can Urine Alcohol Tests Detect Drinking?

  15. Good tips, I feel like bringing awareness to these things, thus people would feel more safe sharing would be good.
    Hope you find strength, and the other half of the interview wouldn’t be too hard.

    • Thank you. I hope so too. I think we have gotten through most of the worst stuff but who knows. It was pretty awful, I was trembling and triggered for a while after talking about all the abuse.

  16. Such great list! I agree on those and for me you must stay with people who will understand that you are still on that struggling mode. Having supportive and positive people will really help.

  17. Wow! I am sorry you have had to go through all that but congrats to staying sober! My husband has PTSD (combat related) and your tips are spot on!

    • Thank you Bridget. Encouragement always helps. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s struggles. It is so unfair and unfortunately that so many soliders come back from helping with PTSD. I he, or you, ever want to write about it (if you think it will help) this blog is always open to hosting the stories of families coping with trauma. bettymama206@gmail.com

  18. You are a tough person andsharin your struggle through writing means you are doing well. I might not undesrtand what you are going through and the PTSD, however sharing what you deal with is a good start.
    Stay focus and you will head to your goal.

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