Breakups are tough for everyone. The days following a major split can be particularly tough for those in recovery. When it is tempting to lose one's sorrows in a bottle or a pill, what can be done instead? Here are 6 tips on how to recover from a breakup, the healthy way.
1. Recognize the Danger
Breakups can be dangerous in two ways. The first way is perhaps the most obvious. Feeling angry, sad or lonely can be triggers for returning to an addiction. The second way is if the relationship was so harmful that the breakup actually brings relief and freedom. Those who used substances to celebrate in the past are at high risk of relapse in this situation. Either way, the end of a relationship means things are about to change and this can be a challenge. A challenge that will be faced without the crutch of a substance or a habit.
2. Connect with Other People
If loneliness is the primary negative emotion following the breakup, connecting and building relationships with other people can be very helpful. While it would not be appropriate to rush into a romantic relationship, restoring old friendships, calling distant family members and getting out to meet new potential friends are all ways to directing address the loneliness. This may not be easy. Sometimes new people fail us. Sometimes we are so busy grieving the loss of the partner that we do not want to reach out to others. These issues are real but pushing past initial hesitation can move us toward rewarding relationships and a major drop in how much loneliness we feel.
3. Watch Your Self-Talk
Self-talk are the messages we tell ourselves all day long. Our self-talk makes a major impact on what we feel and consequently what we do. Monitoring our self-talk and choosing to think healthy thoughts can impact how we feel. Thinking, “Man, I can't believe I messed up so badly. I'll never find someone like her again,” is only a set up for feeling worse. Instead try focusing on a more helpful thought such as, “Man, I learned a lot from that relationship. I'll never make those mistakes again.” Both statements may be true, but the last statement is the only one that’s helpful.
4. Find Something You are Passionate About
Letting go of a relationship often means finding a lot of free time. Free time can be dangerous for those in recovery so fill it quickly with a healthy passion. Take your love of sports to another level and join a team or coach Little League. If you have been talking about playing your guitar for years, dust it off and take a lesson. Go on that trip you have been dreaming about. You have time to really live your life.
5. Get Help
There are lots of different resources available for talking through the pain of a breakup. If you have a trusted friend who is a great listener, that may be your first option. There are also a variety of services available online such as e-counseling and e-coaching that can help. Counselors of all types are available in person and by phone. Your religious institution may also have someone trained to listen and provide encouragement. Don't forget your 12 step sponsor as well. They too can be very helpful during this time. If a breakup takes you to a dark place and you are thinking about hurting yourself seek professional help right away. Call the suicide hotline or 911. Get to a counselor or an emergency room immediately.
6. Remove Triggers
You likely went through this process when you decided to live a sober lifestyle. You went through your home and possibly your car and removed anything that might remind you of using. A similar clean out may be appropriate after a breakup especially if you were living with the person. Change the ring tone with your favorite love song. Throw out the diet soda you never drink but bought so she would feel at home. You may want to keep the teddy bear he gave you for Christmas, but put it out of sight so that you will not be reminded of the relationship every time you enter your bedroom. If many items need to be removed, consider going through the process with the support of a friend.
Overcoming a breakup without depending on a high is very possible. It's tough, but you’re more than capable of doing it.