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What to Do When You’re Sober and You Find Old Drugs

Ideally, when you come home from treatment, there should be no drugs in your house. Whether you got someone else to throw them out, or you did it yourself, getting all substances out of reach adds an extra layer of protection in recovery.

Sometimes people think keeping something around in case of emergency will help them feel less anxious, like they can relax because there’s always something there if they need it. Unfortunately, this also means there’s always something there if they need it. In times of stress or loneliness they end up fixating on whatever is stashed safely in the sock drawer. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes too tempting. Even if having the option does reduce anxiety, it’s not worth the risk. Better to get everything out of the house.

Even if you do make a good faith effort to get rid of everything, there’s still a chance you’ll miss something. You might put on a jacket you haven’t worn since last spring and find something in the pocket. Or you get your suitcase out to pack for a trip and find something tucked away inside. This can be a difficult test. You’ve been doing well in recovery, and suddenly you have the goods in your hand. You might know you should flush it right away, but it’s easier said than done.

One way to deal with it is to prepare in advance. Since this is a common situation, it’s a good one to deal with in therapy or group. One part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is learning practical skills for dealing with temptation, whether it’s friends pressuring you to use, managing cravings in response to stress, or finding drugs in a jacket pocket. Having an if/then plan makes it more likely you will be able to follow through.

It might even help to visualize the situation as realistically as possible. Athletes and musicians often use visualization to improve their performance in pressure situations, and this is a pressure situation. Try to really imagine how you would feel discovering the drugs, feeling tempted, then ultimately overcoming that temptation, and flushing the drugs. Do it over and over until it feels easy. If you do this exercise, make sure you’re in a supportive environment in case a craving hits. Imagine the scenario through to the end, including how strong you’ll feel after beating the temptation.

More generally, try to hedge the other factors that might make relapse more tempting. If you have things to do, or sober people in the house, there is less opportunity to relapse over an accidental discovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox safely and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at info@tgwcdetox.com to learn more.