8 Ways to Prevent Relapse on Drugs and Alcohol

Alcohol and drug addiction in the United States is at an all-time high. It’s tough to watch the nightly news anymore without hearing something about the opiate epidemic going on, or lives being destroyed on account of alcohol or drugs. This is no longer the elephant in the room, and many people are admitting that they feel defeated in their sobriety efforts. Many of them have tried to quit over and over and may have even succeeded for a while, but sooner or later they’re back abusing substances. This can make them feel quite shameful and bring many negative consequences to their lives.

When you’re in recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction, a vital aspect of your recovery will be focusing on your relapse prevention plan.  Temptations and cravings will come, so knowing how you can prevent relapse is essential.  Keeping in mind that sometimes relapses do occur, but you are much less likely to relapse if you are proactive when it comes to relapse prevention.  Take some time to learn about addiction treatment and ways you can avoid relapsing, so you can continue to live your life free from addiction.

Here are 8 ways you can prevent relapse:

  1. Steer clear of people, places, and things that tempt you.

Make a list of the places, people, and things that may tempt you to drink or use drugs.  These are called triggers. Now, do your best at staying away from such, as the temptation may be too much. Sure, you might think you can walk into your favorite bar and refrain from drinking, but when you’re old drinking buddy comes in offering to buy you a drink, you might not be able to say no. Also, avoid hanging out with your old party peeps, as again, the temptation may be too much.  Now, if going down the aisle in the grocery store that contains alcohol may cause you to actually make a purchase, do not go down that aisle. Don’t even look down that aisle. This can certainly help you prevent relapse. Furthermore, you may want to limit time with those that emotionally drain you or upset you, as negative emotions can be a trigger for drinking or drug use.

  1. Surround yourself with supportive people.

As you distance yourself from unhealthy influences, begin to surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Hang out with those that will add value to your life instead of tempting you to party.  You may find supportive people at 12 Step meetings or a support group, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Cut ties with those who bring you down or taunt you to carry on with your drinking or drugging. You may have to be straight up with them as to why you don’t want to hang out with them anymore.

  1. Attend regular support or 12 step meetings.

There are various 12 Step groups and programs that you can attend regularly to learn, grow, and be accountable. There is AA for recovering alcoholics, NA for recovering drug addicts, SMART Recovery meetings, and support groups.  Though you can stay free from addiction without attending such groups, if you find yourself struggling, consider trying out meetings to see if they help you out.  Some say that you should attend 90 meetings in 90 days in early recovery, as the support and focus on sobriety can help you battle those urges to drink and prevent relapse. Working through the 12 Steps with a sponsor may indeed help you learn a lot about yourself, grow in various ways, and help you live life sober and free.

  1. Pick up a new hobby.

Chances are you’re left with some time on your hands now that you’re not drinking or drugging.  This is a perfect time to pick up a new hobby or two.  Perhaps you’ve put off fishing for years now or maybe you’ve wanted to play recreational softball for some time now. Go ahead! Make a list of potential hobbies and go ahead and try them out to see which ones you want to incorporate into your life. Need some ideas? Try hiking in the woods, building model airplanes, golfing, yoga, gardening, kayaking, dancing, painting, sculpting, singing, flying a drone, writing, and so on. This will bring some excitement and joy to your life, and help prevent relapse!

  1. Commit to counseling or drug addiction treatment.

Much of the time, underneath alcoholism and drug addiction are some issues that have not been dealt with. Maybe you’ve stuffed your feelings your whole life and now those feelings are surfacing and you have no idea how to contend with them. Or perhaps you have incredible amounts of anxiety and it’s causing you to isolate and live in fear.  Commit to a season of counseling so that you can work on any issues that are popping up.  Whether it’s anxiety, depression, anger, old childhood wounds, etc., you can get to the root of such issues and experience healing and freedom. This will certainly help you prevent relapse.

  1. Go on a self-love journey.

Chances are when you hit your rock bottom and stopped drinking or drugging, you were pretty worn out, sad, and may have even beat yourself up about plenty of things. Now that you’re in recovery, you get to begin a new journey leading you on the path of self-love.  Take some time to rediscover who you are without alcohol or drugs. Allow old wounds to begin healing and make a vow to start loving yourself more. Pamper yourself. Do things that bring you true joy. If you don’t know what makes you feel happy, make a list and try new things to see. You’ll find that as you love yourself more, those cravings to drink or drug will be less and less.

  1. Journal

There are many people who say that journaling is therapeutic for them. By journaling, I mean getting a notebook or a journal and writing down your thoughts regularly. In addition to writing your thoughts, you could do some journaling on things you’re grateful for. An attitude of gratitude can help you change your perspective on a lot of things in life. When you focus on the good things in your life, you’re less likely to focus on the not-so-good things. Try journaling once a day or once every couple of days. Write about your thoughts, your successes, your fears, your hopes, and dreams. Over time, you’ll be able to go back and look through that journal and see the progression that you’ve made. You may even learn from possible mistakes that you’ve made. Journaling is a great way to vent and process your thought life. It can certainly help prevent relapse.

  1. Learn about the disease of addiction.

You can help prevent relapse by learning about the disease of addiction. Professionals state that addiction is a disease of the brain. It is important to realize that you are not your addiction and your addiction is not you. You are separate from that addiction, but that addiction has had control over you while you were in active addiction. Moving forward, in your path to sobriety, the more you can learn about the disease of addiction, the more you empower yourself and are less likely to relapse.

Take some time regularly to learn about substance abuse and treatments. There are many free resources available online, such as information written by professionals, bloggers who blog about their recovery journey and YouTube videos with information to help you prevent relapse.

Your battle will be in your mind, so when you can feed your mind information that will help you learn the ins-and-outs of addiction, your thoughts will primarily be on staying sober and clean. If you find yourself struggling, ask yourself if you’ve been feeding your mind helpful things or been starving your mind of recovery information. Even if you take 10 minutes a day to invest in yourself by learning about addiction and recovery, you’ll be much more likely to stay sober. Regular building up of the mind is a great way to prevent relapse.

Reaching out to prevent relapse

It is wonderful that you recognize the grip that addiction has had in your life, and now you’re navigating the path of sobriety and freedom. You may feel as if you’re on a little bit of a roller coaster ride right now, struggling with days when you’re feeling great and days when you’re not feeling great. Some days you may feel very triggered and crave your drug of choice tremendously. Other days you might wake up and all is well, and you’re not struggling as much.

Regardless, give yourself a big pat on the back for being honest with yourself and deciding to get on the road to recovery. The path of sobriety is usually not easy, but the effort is well worth the results. Over time, cravings will decrease, and you’ll become better at managing life sober and clean.

If you’re struggling, know that there are substance abuse professionals more than willing to help you get free. You can get your life back one day at a time. There’s no shame in asking for help. Whether you’re interested in attending an inpatient or outpatient rehab, or attending a 12-step support group, or tackling the path to sobriety on your own, know that freedom is available. If you need help taking your first steps, reach out and give us a call today. We’re here to answer the questions you have, and help you begin navigating your individualized path to recovery.

You deserve a life free from such bondage. Reach out for help today.