Altering your behavior and avoiding the likelihood of relapse after the addiction recovery is a tougher challenge. Going through a substance use disorder program is already a huge challenge, and being scared of relapse makes it worse. Thus, here are a few suggestions you can try to stay on course.
Change Your Driving Route
You don’t need to be a creature of habit. A simple and easy-to-do behavior change is to vary the route you normally take to work, school, church, the mall, grocery store, gas station, etc. If you always take the same way to and from home, and that driving sequence takes you past your neighborhood hangout or the liquor store or the gas station where you also buy Lotto tickets and booze, guess what? You need to drive a different route.
Turn Off the TV
If you are watching a TV program and an ad comes on for beer, wine, or spirits, either change the channel, get up and leave the room, or turn off the set. Ditto if there is a program that depicts characters boozing it up. You do not need the reinforcement of bad behavior or the visual and auditory cues of people drinking.
Recommend Something Different
One way to switch off what’s become a habit of going to the bar after work with co-workers is to recommend something different. Instead of meeting up at the saloon, why not suggest an alternate location – or an activity that doesn’t involve drinking alcohol? Maybe you’ll get opposition and some deprecating comments, such as, “What’s up? You trying to lay off the sauce?” What do you care? You can be upfront about it and say you are or deflect the comments by saying you’re just tired of the same old thing all the time. You’d rather engage in other types of activity – and tell them they’re welcome to join you, but there’ll be no drinking involved. If they don’t want to go along with the idea, don’t allow them to pressure you into going back to the bar. Head out on your own and create more constructive uses of your free time.
Do a Thorough Inventory
Begin at home to scour all the nooks and crannies for liquor – and get rid of it. Pour it down the drain and take the empty bottles and cans to the recycle container. Don’t save a single bottle or can of booze. It will only tempt you; once you start in on that last remaining reminder of drinking, you will only go on to get more.
Removing all liquor from the house, garage, shed, car, office, or any other hiding place is just the first step. Donate or give away or discard all your favorite drinking glasses, mugs, towels, shirts, or other items that have liquor slogans or advertising on them—even T-shirts from vacation that depict people drinking need to get the old heave-ho.
Is such a cleaning-out really necessary? It is if you are serious about breaking your ingrained patterns of drinking behavior. Problem drinkers, as well as alcoholics, simply cannot have alcohol anywhere in their presence. If it’s there, it will be consumed. Why to take the chance? Get rid of it all, and don’t buy any more.