If you are someone with an addiction who has ever been in treatment, whether it be court-mandated, while incarcerated, or in rehab, you’ve heard the old “people, places, and things” business. I’m going to break it down in this blog post for two reasons, 1) to remind you of what you can do to keep clean and 2) to help any family members around you to understand what helps and what doesn’t. Let me make it clear before I dive in, that I very much stand by the science that addiction is an actual brain disease and, once someone is in recovery, it’s recovery for life. It has to be managed daily to prevent relapse prevention, like someone would manage diabetes.
Let me break something down very easily. COMPLETE sobriety is the way to go. Here’s why. Let’s say heroin is your poison. If you keep people around who smoke pot, they’re one or two phone calls or texts away from a needle relapse in your arm. Understood? You need to be aware of what might happen to you if you want to take that risk. The other piece of relapse is that people will actually relapse, use the same amount that they used before sobriety. This is when people die. If you do relapse, DO NOT use alone. I’m going to break these dangers for relapse down further. Now, we can dive into specifics.
Here are the steps you need to take to rid yourself of people who might contribute to relapse. Once you relapse, that’s on you, but here are some steps to help that I used when I did therapy with clients who had addictions:
Most people don’t include “Situations” when they talk about People, Places, and Things in recovery and sobriety situations. Here’s why I include it. If you’re in a vulnerable SITUATION (grief, just lost a job, break-up, etc.), and another SITUATION presents itself with drugs or alcohol (a PERSON, PLACE, or THING), this is the time when that plan comes into play for relapse prevention. Go to a meeting. Call your sponsor, accountability partner, safety person to help talk you down off of the ledge of relapse.
Some place, you will inevitably run into someone selling something that you want and you will, at some point, have the money to buy it, you need a plan. The world won’t change to become drug and alcohol-free just because you’re sober. Get real. Have a plan. Accept, Alter, Avoid. Try it and apply it.