Recovery environments, from detox treatment to residential care and sober living, are all tightly curated spaces designed to mitigate the presence of potential stressors, allowing an individual to focus on their recovery. Keeping outside stresses to a minimum allows each person to practice new strategies and therapeutic approaches safely.
However, graduating from these programs and beginning one’s transition out of the recovery sphere can reintroduce any number of high-risk situations that can threaten one’s sobriety if an individual isn’t prepared. Avoiding high-risk situations while out in the “real world” is a necessary skill to practice, and it is important to prepare for these situations to effectively navigate and cope while maintaining one’s sobriety.
What Are High-Risk Situations?
High-risk situations can take a number of different forms, each of which can require its own approach to deal with. Most commonly, high-risk situations are thought of as places where an individual may be offered an addictive substance or have ready access to it. Places like parties, clubs, bars, weddings or even places where one may have engaged with addictive substances in the past can all carry a great deal of risk.
Attending functions at these places is a major risk. While some may want to try to engage with friends or family in these spaces as a way to “test” oneself and recovery strategies, it is a major, unnecessary risk to do this.
However, high-risk situations can also be attending a regular outing while one’s mental or emotional state is compromised. Feelings of high stress, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, or feelings of anger and frustration can all compromise one’s otherwise practiced and refined coping strategies, which can turn a normal, routine outing into a more difficult experience by making it unnecessarily difficult to cope with stresses, triggers, or monitor one’s emotional state.
Lastly, high-risk situations can also come under the guise of opportunity. Having too much downtime or getting a promotion and suddenly having more income than before can present their own issues. Boredom may lead a person to try to fill their day with potentially dangerous behavior, and having additional income can feel like it mitigates the financial burden of addictive substances. However, neither of these justify compromising one’s hard-earned sobriety.
4 Tips to Avoid High-Risk Situations
Since coping with these different kinds of high-risk situations will require its own approach, it is important to plan ahead for the possibility of all of these. Talking with supports, peers, and professionals about one’s own coping toolkit can help illuminate one’s own best practices to employ.
#1. Have an Escape Plan
Having an escape plan ready can involve a few details. Letting supports know where one is going throughout their day and the expected amount of time they are going to be out is the first step. Noticing that a situation is developing into something riskier can indicate that an individual needs to remove themselves immediately, and establishing a route to remove oneself, as well as supports that can be called on to help, can be essential in getting out of a high-risk situation and continuing to prioritize one’s sobriety.
#2. Stick to the Plan
Creating a daily schedule can provide a great deal of structure that is still focused on one’s sober goals. This can help mitigate directionless feelings and boredom, as well as help each individual act through their day with intention, keeping one’s sobriety a priority.
#3. Don’t Rush It!
Getting back out into the “real world” comes with a lot of difficult feelings, and the transition isn’t a simple task. Attending gatherings or holiday parties isn’t a necessity, and what a person gains from attending these functions may not be worth the risk involved in going to them in the first place.
When provided the chance to plan for a particular situation, it may be in one’s best interest to turn down an invitation, whether that be because of the potential alcohol at a party or simply because one’s anxiety has been high lately and may compromise one’s decision-making skills. Taking time to ease into these elements of life is not just encouraged but celebrated as a testament to one’s dedication to their recovery both inside and outside of the recovery sphere.
#4. Avoid Certain People and Places
Certain places may hold ties to one’s past use of an addictive substance or might be functions where drugs or alcohol are expected to be found. While avoiding these places for one’s own health is paramount, it is just as important to look at the people attending a function as well.
Old drinking friends or peers who don’t understand one’s sober choices can create an incredibly difficult situation, and the connotations or peer pressure to relinquish one’s sober choices can be wholly detrimental to one’s new lifestyle. Looking at guest lists, or noticing that old friends are appearing at a function, can prompt an individual to leave the event for their own safety.
High-risk situations can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can sometimes even be unavoidable. However, learning the proper skills and creating a personalized plan to address them directly can help you move through these difficult scenarios safely while prioritizing your sobriety. At Everlast Recovery, we take a personalized approach to your time with us, working with you to find your own best practices and establish an intimate, caring support network. Our home-like atmosphere can help you feel at ease while discussing new approaches for dealing with these high-risk situations, helping to create a network of support and understanding. We also offer an array of other programs, including art and music therapy, as well as individual, group, and family counseling plans to help you create effective escape plans and coping strategies. For more information on how we can help you address high-risk situations or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, call to speak to us today at (866) 338-6925.