‘Strong’ Men Who Don’t Reach Out for Help More Prone to Relapse
Men often feel that society expects them to be strong and in charge at all times. If you are like most men, from the time you were a little boy, you were probably told that it’s not OK to cry or to lose control of yourself on an emotional level. This may have made it very difficult for you to admit to others that you are experiencing turbulent emotions or that you feel vulnerable or need any kind of emotional support.
Pretending to be strong all the time can gradually lead to a relapse for men who are in addiction recovery. You may have a great deal of difficulty asking for help from counselors or support groups, but if you don’t reach out to others, you could be setting yourself up for a relapse. What should you do to help prevent addiction relapse?
Awareness of Triggers
Part of the recovery process involves developing an awareness of the things that trigger you personally to want to drink or drug. The people, places or things that spark cravings may vary from one person to the next. You have to take responsibility for knowing what triggers your cravings.
For a recovering alcoholic or addict, major losses such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or the breakup of an important relationship are events that are likely to set off cravings. What is not as obvious is that minor losses such as a flat tire or a disagreement with a loved one can also cause the urge to use. Even boredom or restlessness can cause an alcoholic or addict pick up a drink or a drug without even thinking twice about it.
Avoiding Slippery People and Situations
In recovery circles, you may hear that the word “slip” is an acronym for the phrase “sobriety loses its priority.” People, places and things that may cause you to pick up a drink or a drug, or cause you to come very close to picking up, are called “slippery.”
To try to avoid relapse, you need to avoid slippery people and situations. This means that you can’t continue to hang around with old friends who are still drinking and drugging. If you have family get-togethers where other people habitually drink and encourage you to do the same, your best bet may be to avoid going. At the very least, you need to bring along a sober friend or stay closely connected to sober people by phone call or text. Avoiding slippery situations may also mean that you need to find a different route home so that you don’t drive by your favorite bar. If smoking cigarettes or eating certain foods trigger the urge to drink, you may need to change these habits as well.
Developing a Support Network
As a man, you may feel that you have to appear to be strong all the time. When you’re told that in order to stay sober, you need to get in the habit of asking for help, you may feel like you’re being asked to do an impossible task.
Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction is rarely done without the help of others. Even though you don’t want to admit that you need help, your recovery depends on unity with other people who are committed to living a sober life. At each meeting, get in the habit of asking for one or more phone numbers. Reach out to other people in recovery by calling them on the phone or asking them to go out for a cup of coffee either before or after a meeting.
Although as a man you want to continually project an image of strength and being in control of every situation, you have to give yourself a chance to build a foundation for recovery and relapse prevention. When you take small steps toward building a support network of sober friends, you will gradually grow stronger and more able to be the clear-headed sober man that you are hoping to be. You can avoid relapsing by being prepared to deal with the things that may trip you up and by admitting that you can’t do it all alone.
Choose a better life. Choose recovery.