Relapse Prevention: Staying Sober After Rehab

If you went to rehab, then you should know about the dangers of people, places and things: in order to stay clean, these must be changed. Life after rehabilitation is completely different. Handling triggering situations is one of the most important parts of relapse prevention.

Relapse prevention is an individualized plan you put in action so you do not go back to using drugs or alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates among substance abusers is around 40-60 percent. With such a high rate of relapse it is important to do what you can to prevent a relapse from occurring. This page will give you a better understanding of what a relapse is and some of the warning signs and techniques for relapse prevention.

Relapse Does Not Happen Over Night

In order to be prepared for a living a sober life you must understand that a relapse is a process. Relapse begins long before you take the drug or alcohol. To understand the process of a relapse, it is easier to think about in three steps:

1. Emotional Relapse – The beginning stage of the relapse process, when emotions shift your mindset back to the desire to use.

This is typically caused by:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation
  • Depression
  • Defensiveness

2. Mental Relapse – At this point in the relapse stage, you begin to struggle between your addiction and the decision to use.

This stage of relapse is characterized by:

  • Thinking about old people places and things
  • Reminiscing on and glorifying your past use
  • Hanging around old friends or locations
  • Lying

3. Physical Relapse – Once you get to this point you are use again. There are techniques in place to address the emotional and mental stages of relapse.

It is important to understand that if relapse occurs, it is not the end of the world.For some, it takes a relapse or multiple relapses to realize the gravity of addiction, and to understand the mistakes made. If you relapsed recently, do not feel discouraged: it is best to get back on your feet and try again.

Relapse Prevention and Support

Having a positive support group during recovery will go a long way in relapse prevention. Attending meetings where you can discuss thoughts and feelings with like minded people is invaluable. By revealing your relapse to people in the meeting will allow you to receive advice. Someone may share a story of relapse. It could be just the story you need to hear to prevent against another relapse.

Another benefit of support groups in relapse prevention is the fact that most of the people in recovery genuinely care. They are willing to spend time with you, if you genuinely feel that you are going to use.

Regularly attending support groups events or meetings will also help you to feel a sense of belonging. This can keep an addict from using in early recovery: feelings of acceptance and understanding will be reassuring to the addict, as they know they are doing the right thing.


Support groups are also important for relapse prevention, when major life situations jeopardize your sobriety.

Some of these situations include:

  • The loss of a loved one
  • Major financial challenge
  • Loss of job or change of job
  • Major health issue
  • Conflicts or arguments with loved ones
  • Divorce or separation

Your support group will always welcome you back and encourage you to continue living sober, no matter what.

Techniques for Relapse Prevention

If you develop a relapse prevention plan, and have strategies in place for the early stages of a relapse, then you will have a better chance of staying clean. If you feel like you want to use, here are some things to consider:

  • Going to a meeting
  • Telling on yourself
  • Address your emotions with your sponsor, counselor or loved one
  • Play the tape through (a term used in rehab—think about the consequences of using again)
  • Wait—do not use right away, occupy your mind and see if you still want to use later.
  • Cravings will come and go in early recovery
  • Find positive outlets for your negative emotions and boredom

Relapse Prevention Over Time: Life Becomes Easier

After reading this, you may feel as if every day will be a struggle to stay clean—this is not true!

In early recovery it is important to have a relapse prevention plan and a positive support group, because cravings are more intense. It is also important because you are living an entire new way of life, and you may be scared, bored, or nervous: all risks for relapse.

The more clean time you acquire, the easier it becomes to live sober. The cravings will go away and you may even realize that the life you were living was a mess, and is undesirable. Just because living sober becomes easier does not mean you should lose touch with your relapse prevention techniques and your support group. Relapse prevention is indeed a key component to living a long, happy life after drug addiction. Get in contact with us today and find out about your best options for relapse prevention.