Throughout recovery from addiction and mental health problems, we face crises. These crises may lead us to use alcohol or other substances, causing relapse, or the crises may lead us to seek dangerous, potentially permanent solutions to temporary problems. Recovery is difficult and with it arise issues that we may not feel ready to face. Thinking about the long-term road to recovery, having a crisis plan is of considerable importance.
You may think you do not need a crisis plan because you are aware of your problems, have plenty of support, and know that you are strong enough to handle anything in recovery. The truth is that life gives us challenges we were not expecting, and having a crisis plan is necessary to ensure our safety and the safety and well-being of those around us.
5 Elements of a Crisis Plan
#1. Understand Your Support System May Not Be Available
As much as our support system wants to be available for you, those people you love and upon whom you depend will not be there every step of the way. Given this fact, you need to have a plan on how to cope with negative thoughts and triggers on your own.
Understanding what works best for you in a crisis when you have no one to lean on will be essential to helping you get through one of those situations. Therefore, you might need to practice those skills before a crisis arises.
#2. Know How to Self-Soothe
Knowing how to self-soothe is critical to getting through a crisis on your own. If you like certain smells, buy scented candles before a crisis arrives. If you know walking helps, dedicate some time prior to a crisis to map out a walk you can take that is safe and has no/limited triggers. Take a nap. Make a deal with yourself to buy or do something you have always wanted to do if you can make it through the crisis. Instead of relapse or other behaviors, make a bucket list and think about what you want to do in your best life.
Self-soothing is not a sign of weakness. Instead, self-soothing actually shows strength in that you are capable of caring for yourself. The Bible commands that we love ourselves, and self-soothing is an act of self-love.
#3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not just a daily practice; mindfulness can also help pull you out of your thoughts and back into the world around you. Taking time to think about something other than the triggers or even to let the triggers go will help you get through that moment. There are multiple types of mindfulness, and finding a few that help before your crisis will help you be prepared for when a crisis arrives.
#4. Reach Out for Help
If you have an available support system, reach out. Reaching out can be via text or a phone call. Let someone else know you are struggling. If you cannot reach someone in your support system, call a local crisis line. The person on the other end of the phone will know how to help you, but you have to be willing to be honest and take the action they recommend.
#5. Write Down Your Crisis Plan and Put It Somewhere Safe
Having a crisis plan is important and incredibly helpful, but only if you are able to access it in a crisis. Writing down your plan complete with phone numbers of people you trust and the numbers of crisis lines is necessary. Have a special box or notebook set aside with all of your crisis resources. Do not let a crisis occur without some form of a plan in place! As part of recovery, you need to develop a crisis plan to ensure your recovery, your safety, and the safety of those around you.
Crises happen, and understanding your humanity and fallibility will better prepare you for a crisis than anything else can. Coming up with a crisis plan that encompasses all of your needs might seem overwhelming or even unnecessary. As humans, sometimes we do not want to plan for negative events, and when they occur, we would much rather “wing it” than face the possibility that something could go very wrong. Accepting that crises happen will help you better address a crisis by making a plan. Having a plan ensures your recovery and safety, so it is particularly beneficial if this acceptance occurs early on in recovery.
When a crisis arises, you want to be prepared. Hoping it will go away on its own won’t work. Having crises is a normal part of recovery and shows growth as well as triggers that you may need to work on or avoid. You are strong, but strength is even more powerful when you have practiced your skills and are prepared to use your strengths. When struggling to overcome addiction, having plans to deal with any crisis or trigger is important. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to alcohol and other substances, it might be time to reach out for help. At Renaissance Ranch, we offer a clinically driven and gospel-centered approach to treating your substance use disorder and any other problems that relate to it. We will help you every step of the way, even with developing crisis plans. Call us at (801) 308-8898 today to learn how we can help.