If you are in recovery from substance use, you have likely invested a lot of effort, time and work into achieving a new sober life. The gift of sobriety will be short-lived unless you enter recovery thinking that it’s over once you leave your treatment program. Planning your recovery strategy should include tools that you can access at all times to prevent a relapse. To learn about assembling an on-the-go coping kit, read on!
What is an on-the-go coping kit?
Most of us don’t stay in the house all day — your daily activities can involve interacting in a variety of situations and engaging in multiple activities. For this reason, your relapse prevention planning must include coping tools that you can use anywhere and at any time.
An on-the-go coping kit is simply a plan of action that you can rely on, no matter where you are, to help overcome a triggering situation. These are recovery tools that are easily accessible that include both material items and actions to take. With a handy coping kit in place, you are better equipped to address cravings or triggers head-on.
Understanding your triggers
To succeed in recovery, you must be aware of your personal triggers. This awareness helps you recognize a threat to recovery so you can immediately take action. Triggers, whether you ignore them or entertain them, present an ongoing risk of relapse.
The ten most common triggers experienced in early recovery include:
- Mental health struggles
- Romanticizing substance use
- Maintaining relationships with those who engage in substance use
- Emotions like guilt or shame
Because substance use disorder is a complex condition, triggers are unique to each individual. A trigger that causes one person to relapse may have zero effect on another. Know your personal triggers and learn how to protect your recovery with actions and coping tools.
How can you create your on-the-go coping kit?
When creating your on-the-go coping kit, you should first consider your triggers. If stress is a major trigger, then focus on relaxation methods. If you have a mental health condition, include some handy tools to help manage it.
Here are some suggestions for assembling your own on-the-go coping kit:
- Use technology: Your smartphone enables you to quickly access some powerful coping tools:
- Download some recovery apps, like SoberGrid and Loosid, as well as mental health-related apps like Calm or Headspace
- Create a music playlist on your phone of soothing, relaxing tunes to help you de-stress.
- Bookmark and add to your home page a directory for Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery meetings to help you quickly locate one in your area, wherever you may be.
- Add your sponsor to your favorite contacts for easy access to a quick phone conversation.
- Use a photo of your child or significant other as your screensaver as an instant reminder of why you stopped using substances in the first place.
- Create a handy list on your phone of your recovery goals.
- Get active: If you sense you are starting to weaken, step up your physical activity. Exercise is an important coping tool that you can access anywhere, even just taking a brisk walk during your lunch break.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Calming your mind is one of the best things to do when you feel your recovery might be threatened. Your coping tool kit should include a plan to attend a yoga class, get a massage or practice deep breathing exercises.
Create an on-the-go coping kit to tackle any threats to recovery that might come your way. Remember, addiction is a complex disease you don’t have to face alone. These tips, along with your support system, can help you stay the course and achieve long-term sobriety.