Top 5 Things to Do in Your Recovery to Avoid Addiction Relapse
Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that requires extensive professional treatment and a lifelong dedication to maintaining recovery. Unfortunately, addiction relapse is relatively common. More often than not, people relapse because they have stopped doing the things that kept them sober in the first place.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), between 40-60% of recovering addicts suffer from relapse at some point. While relapse is common, it does not have to be a part of your story. Just like how someone with diabetes can avoid a flare-up by taking their medication and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can prevent relapse by engaging in the recovery techniques you learned during treatment.
Here are the top 5 things you can do in your recovery to avoid addiction relapse and ensure that you live the happy and sober life you deserve.
1. Be Aware of Your Triggers
With every unhealthy coping mechanism a person engages in, certain things cause them to engage in that behavior. This is known as experiencing a “trigger.” Everyone who suffers from a substance use disorder has triggers that cause them to crave drugs and alcohol.
It is important to note that triggers are personal to each individual. What triggers one person might not affect you at all. As a result, it is important to identify the triggers that are personal to you so that you will be prepared to use your coping mechanisms and avoid a relapse.
Examples of common triggers for addiction include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Being around a sight, smell, or sound that reminds you of your addiction
- Major life changes
- Problems at work, school, or home
- Being around people you used to abuse substances with
2. Remain Connected in Your Recovery Community
Everyone who completes a drug and alcohol rehab program will be encouraged to join a support group or 12-Step fellowship. The most common support network for recovering addicts and alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Whether you are a member of AA or another addiction support group like SMART Recovery, you must remain connected in your community.
Being active in a support group like AA allows you to share your journey, receive support from others, and stay accountable for your sobriety. Staying connected to a sober support network will keep you centered on your recovery, preventing you from becoming distracted and slacking on your maintenance techniques.
3. Use Grounding Techniques for Stress
Some of the most common triggers for relapse are stress and anxiety, so it’s important to use healthy coping mechanisms when you are feeling extra stressed. One of the best grounding strategies for stress is called the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
The 5 steps begin by taking a few deep breaths, followed by:
- Acknowledging 5 things you see around you
- Acknowledging 4 things you can touch around you
- Acknowledging 3 things you can hear around you
- Acknowledging 2 things you can smell around you
- Acknowledging 1 thing you can taste around you
Focusing on your senses helps you gain self-awareness and forces you to focus on the present moment. Stress is usually about circumstances from the past or future that you are concerned about. Increasing mindfulness through the senses stops you from focusing on stressful situations and causes you to live in the present moment.
4. Continue Going to Therapy and Taking Medications
Another great way to prevent relapse is to continue going to therapy. Individual and group therapy are extremely important in the addiction recovery process, as it helps you change unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior. While you probably had plenty of therapy sessions during treatment, continuing the counseling will ensure that you have help dealing with the current issues you are facing and any new ones that arise.
If you have any co-occurring mental health conditions that require medication, you must continue taking them. It is common for people to stop taking their medications when they feel better, not realizing that the medication is the thing keeping them healthy. This can lead to a relapse, proving the importance of continuing your medications as your psychiatrist recommends.
5. Practice Holistic Self-Care
Another thing you should do in recovery to prevent addiction relapse is to practice self-care. You must emphasize your own self-care to prevent yourself from relapsing as a result of triggers. You should maintain a healthy diet to prevent fatigue, have a healthy sleeping routine to avoid insomnia, and engage in self-soothing techniques to combat stress.
Because boredom can be a huge factor in addiction relapse, a part of self-care is engaging in activities that you enjoy and find fun. Try to carve out time in your schedule to hang out with supportive friends and engage in fun and sober-friendly activities like hiking, swimming, or even attending live music events. However, you must refrain from activities that include heavy drinking or substance abuse as this could trigger you to relapse as well.
Learn How to Avoid Addiction Relapse at South Carolina Addiction Treatment
Addressing the root causes of your addiction is essential, but you’ll never stay sober if you don’t know how to prevent relapse. At South Carolina Addiction Treatment, one of our main goals is to help clients achieve and maintain a sober life. Our program is designed to help you identify your triggers, anticipate events that could lead to relapse, and learn healthy coping skills that promote sobriety.
Don’t wait any longer to get the help you deserve. Call now to speak with a dedicated admissions counselor.
Medically Reviewed: October 24, 2022
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.