Coping with Stress in Recovery—Relapse Prevention Begins at Harbor Village

By The Fix staff 05/01/18

For recovering addicts and alcoholics who are at risk of a relapse, stress is more than just inconvenient—it can be life threatening.

A woman has her head in her hands, looking stressed.

Everybody experiences stress. Some stressors are basic—like hunger and fatigue. For those who are mentally and emotionally healthy these are easy to handle; eating satisfies the stress of hunger and sleep satisfies the stress of exhaustion. Other stressors are not so simple, for example the death of a loved one or a change in jobs can upset even the most stable and settled people, causing a whirlwind of stress.

For recovering addicts and alcoholics who are at risk of a relapse, stress is more than just inconvenient—it can be life threatening. Often, the first phase of recovery begins in detox or inpatient treatment. The programs offered by Harbor Village in Miami, Florida, treat a variety of substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues in a safe and structured environment. For those in early recovery at Harbor Village, learning new ways to handle stress without using drugs or alcohol is part of the program from day one.

Treatment at Harbor Village includes a variety of traditional and holistic techniques. These include group, individual and family therapy, 12-step involvement, as well as education, exercise and nutrition. Aftercare planning is also emphasized as part of each client’s individualized treatment plan at Harbor Village. In the initial stages, this may include plans for how long a client will be staying and what type of home life they will be returning to after treatment. As they near the end of their stay, aftercare planning can include a variety of recommendations for building a solid ongoing recovery. For some, this may include an outpatient treatment program at Harbor Village or a referral to another program near their home. For those who need a safe and structured home environment, sober living arrangements can be made through Harbor Village.

Skilled people weren’t born with their skills; they developed them over a period of time. This is also true with stress management in recovery. After all, rehab is a safe place, designed to insulate the newly clean and sober from the outside world and promote healing. But sooner or later, real life sets in and it is important to have the tools to face everyday stress without relapsing. At Harbor Village, the addiction treatment programs are designed to provide a good foundation for living life on life’s terms without the use of drugs or alcohol.

Some valuable tools that the programs at Harbor Village teach carry over into life after rehab and help with stress management. These are simple actions that help those who are new to recovery learn to process everyday stressors without relapsing. First, stop. When a stressful situation arises, don’t feel pressured into immediate action. Remember it is okay to postpone responding rather than making a rushed decision. Emotions may impair judgment and cause a reaction that’s not based in the principles of recovery or everybody’s best interests. It’s okay to take a moment to breathe deeply before responding or making rash decisions. In some cases, it may also be appropriate to step away from the situation for a bit. Taking a break from the stress can make it possible to tackle the problem more effectively at a later time.

 When something stressful happens in recovery, reach out! The programs at Harbor Village encourage clients to build relationships with counselors and others in the recovery community. This is so there will always be somebody to talk to when life gets crazy. Talking about stressful issues with a sponsor, counselor, outpatient group or therapist is a great way to process the feelings with people who understand. A 12-step sponsor or therapist is dedicated to helping support recovery and has a vested interest in preventing relapse. It also really helps to get an outside perspective on issues that may be too personal to interpret objectively. Reaching out is a great opportunity to build relationships and establish coping skills that can help in the future.

Another valuable stress-management tool emphasized by the programs at Harbor Village is to focus on self-care. Clients are encouraged to take advantage of the full-service spa by getting a massage. Exercise can also be a great stress-reliever and Harbor Village offers clients regular access to the gym and support to help learn healthy workout techniques. Harbor Village also encourages clients to try grounding themselves by practicing yoga or meditation. These calming activities can help ease anxiety and prevent dissociating from reality.

Life can be stressful, but recovery doesn’t have to be. Learning a good set of coping skills in treatment can help pave the way for a healthy life without drugs and alcohol. The team at Harbor Village works with clients every step of the way to make sure their needs are understood, their issues are accommodated and they get the best possible start to recovery. With comprehensive detox and residential care, outpatient options and structured sober living, the programs offered at Harbor Village offer a solid foundation for recovery.

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