Sober Mardi Gras and The Return to Life Post Addiction
Down in New Orleans, the birthplace of American jazz music, the annual celebration of Mardi Gras is celebrated with great pomp and delight. This cultural hallmark festival is filled with family time, parades, and memorable moments. While the two-week celebration of Mardi Gras recalls a time of happiness, community togetherness, and celebration for many New Orleans residents, for those in the recovery community, it can feel quite the opposite.
For an addict like Jake, Mardi Gras no longer holds the positive memories of his childhood. It instead brings up feelings of loneliness and inability to blend into society. In recovery from a Ketamine addiction, he has learned to avoid situations that will expose him to substances. With Mardi Gras comes alcohol, celebratory moments, and an influx of temptation. Jake knows this is not a recipe for his success. But is a sober Mardi Gras possible?
Transition from Rehab
The day a patient exits rehab is when the test of recovery begins. Out of the cocoon of healing, they are faced with a world that does not cater directly to their needs. The fear of relapse hangs heavy over them, and much energy is used to avoid relapsing. Without support, the anxiety, challenges, and typical lack of self-esteem can build up, rupture, and lead to a devastating relapse. Stuck between not wanting to relapse and wanting to feel part of society, those in recovery often find themselves in a difficult predicament.
What Is the Best Approach to Recovery?
Mental health professionals suggest a counterintuitive approach to life outside of rehab; accepting that the challenge of relapse is a real possibility, just like any other disease. This can help those in sobriety cope and deal with the triggers. Instead of pouring energy into their fear of relapse, they can direct it towards practical solutions and rebuilding their lives.
Tips for Dealing with Drug Use Triggers
A trigger is like a challenge. It is a moment, a stimuli, in which our desires can overtake our thoughts, or we can grow our muscles and allow logic to win over desire. To face the trigger at that moment, it is essential to be aware of it first. Following awareness, it is vital to plan for when temptation or triggers come knocking.
These are some of the common triggers post- rehab.
- Stress: when stress is present, we seek to eliminate it in the most efficient way possible. For an addict, that may be through substance use. Reducing stress and cultivating healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it can help one avoid this trigger.
- Social Circle, our social circle significantly affects our actions. Creating new healthy relationships with like-minded individuals who support recovery can be a huge step in keeping sober. They can also provide the backbone needed when faced with challenges that could lead to relapse.
- Being around the substance, visual stimulations are potent triggers. Therefore, seeing drugs or alcohol visually can be a powerful trigger. While it is not entirely possible to avoid all senses, it is best to limit exposure to them.
- Mental Illness, unresolved trauma, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are strongly linked to addiction. Treating underlying mental health issues can be the key to healing and ultimately remaining sober.
Supporting Those in The Sober Community
Those who have traveled through the hell of addiction and made it to sobriety can testify to the importance of support along the way. Being supportive can mean so much more than just being there for another. It is being informed, intelligent, loving, and accepting of the challenges facing a recovering addict. It is providing the addiction community with healthy outlets so that they can join in society.
The Mardi Gras Sober Safe Spot Initiative
In the spirit of supporting those in recovery, Avenues Recovery partnered with New Orleans and Mayor Cantrell to create a “Sober Safe Spot” at the Mardi Gras Parades. These spots were scattered throughout the Mardi Gras celebrations, so those in recovery could hang out with supportive friends and enjoy the festivities. Swag was provided to celebrate sobriety and wear it as a badge of honor.
Ashley Duncan, Regional Alumni Coordinator of Louisiana for Avenues Recovery Center at Louisiana, described it in a few perfectly expressed words. “Too many people choose to skip the parades rather than be exposed to temptation. Our Alumni have found a way to tell the world that having fun and being sober are not mutually exclusive!”
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