In addiction recovery, relapse prevention is one of the most important and most enduring steps. While a rehab program, in any of its many forms, can help a person struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction to get clean and develop the skills that they need to stay clean, rehab eventually ends. Relapse prevention becomes an everyday reality. Here are ten real tips to prevent relapse and stay clean and sober:
- Remove yourself from the tempting situation. Some people will try to prove to themselves that they are “over” their addiction by putting themselves in a situation where they could use. It is much safer and much more effective to avoid the situation altogether.
- Build a network of support. There’s a reason that AA and NA programs can be effective—they give you positive people, striving for the same goals, to rely on. You will buoy each other up.
- Replace bad habits with good ones. Most rehab programs incorporate healthy eating and exercise into education. Stick with those good habits and find new hobbies to occupy free time.
- Don’t let your guard down. The moment you become complacent is the moment temptation finds a chink in your self-control. Keep up with an AA or NA group that will keep you motivated and moving forward.
- Find a positive attitude. It can be easy to let negativity take over. While you don’t have to be sunshine and rainbows every day, do avoid obsessing about negativity. Look, instead for positivity in your daily life.
- Have one person you can call. A network is great, but having one person that you can really rely on to pick up the phone when you call and need them is even better.
- Talk about it. If you’re having a hard time, don’t bottle it up. Tell someone about how you are feeling. Seek out help if you need it.
- Learn stress reduction techniques. Stress can drive a person back to their addiction, especially if that addiction started out as a method for dealing with stress. Learn healthier ways to deal with and reduce stress instead.
- Make a plan. One of the best ways to avoid relapse is to have a very clear plan to follow when temptation comes around. Have a list of activities to do and numbers to call on hand.
- Give Back When You Can-Giving back is a significantly fulfilling progression in your recovery. When you get to a place where you have a better understanding of your addiction and how to better avoid a relapse being able to give to others who are in need can have a powerful impact not just on their life but also on the recovering addict. When you go from a place where you were once helpless to a place where you have the ability to help others that need it there is a certain amount of pride, gratitude and self-growth that takes place. Being able to get to that point where you no longer are feeling helpless but can help others can be a goal in your relapse prevention plan.
Avoiding relapse is the hardest part of early recovery….and for some the effort never ends. Understand yourself, your addiction drivers and your environment and learn the techniques for heading off a relapse. Almost every addict relapses, repeatedly for most, before they are able to achieve long-term sobriety. A family member or friend will wonder how it could happen, time after time, when there has been a period of sobriety. Focus on your recovery and find the tools and people that help you in that effort.