Get active - Being active is very important. If your mind is focused on other enjoyable activities, it has less time to think about using alcohol or drugs. It is also an opportunity to form new constructive habits to divert you away from destructive ones.
Call on your support people - Make a list of helpful people that don't share a lifestyle of using alcohol or drugs. You might have spent less time with them recently - send them a text to catch up.
Be aware of your thoughts and actions - change becomes the new habit. See Managing unhelpful thoughts for more suggestions.
Be alert for your 'early warning signs' - What kind of places; times; people; feelings; situations; or things will make it hard for you to stay on top of things or feel good about yourself?
Would any of these things cause you to use alcohol or drugs again or go back to your old patterns?
Write a list of your possible early warning signs and stay alert for them in your life.
Staying stopped (or cut down) involves getting in early when triggers come up, having an action plan to respond to them without using alcohol or drugs, and being prepared to carry out the plan. It might help to talk this through with a trusted friend or start a chat session with us.
Manage cravings - Although cravings are most intense in the early stages of cutting down or stopping, a craving can still hit even if you haven't had a substance for a long time. Remember what works for you and be ready to manage a craving, even if it seems to come out of the blue.
Remind yourself why you've made a change - Suggestions include writing a reminder card of the reasons you stopped and check it regularly (set a reminder in your phone); get out that photo of you at your worst and compare the new you with the old you; ask your friends to remind you of what it was really like; make a list of all of the ways that cutting down or stopping using alcohol or drugs has improved your life and make a commitment to your new lifestyle every day.
Don't give up - If you do slip up and have some alcohol or drugs (or more than you'd planned) don't beat yourself up about it. The addiction monster will probably try to sabotage you with messages like "I might as well keep using since I can't stay off it". Tame the addiction monster by thinking "Okay, I've had some, but it's just been this once and I don't have to have any more. I'm doing well and this is just a minor blip on the radar". But the truth is, you CAN... you HAVE... and you can STAY stopped.
Mistakes, lapses and relapses are all opportunities to learn - You can't learn from mistakes if you never make them so go easy on yourself and add the trigger that led you to use alcohol or drugs to your 'risky situations' list and come up with a good response plan if you're faced with it again.
These suggestions might seem simple but having plans and preparing is very important. Adding strength to your plans can seem hard when you start compared to the strength and temptation of using a substance, so, talk it through with someone you trust, or, talk to us.