Drug and alcohol addiction affects millions of people, and the number of people who struggle with addiction rises every year. For those who have been through some form of rehabilitation, relief is often found. But the struggle is often a life-long one, and the fear of relapse is often in the back of the minds of those who have overcome their addiction. Fortunately, there are some proactive things a recovering addict can do to prevent relapse. The following 10 points are actionable tips that can be applied to help a person recovering from addiction prevent relapse.
Strong Support System
Whether it’s family, friends, or another group of people who are supportive, having a support system is extremely helpful when recovering from addiction. Those who commit to being there for the person recovering – including paying visits and ensuring the individual engages in social activity in safe environments – can help make the difference between full recovery and relapse.
Create a New Environment
When a person suffers from addiction, it is crucial that during recovery his or her environment is free from whatever substance or substances he or she was addicted to. If the person doesn’t trust his or herself to rid the home environment of trigger items, a trusted friend or family member should complete the process.
Create a New Social Group
Addiction is often fostered by an environment of enablers – friends and social contacts who support, encourage, and even engage in abusing the substance or substances at hand. During recovery, it is crucial to cut ties with old friends and create new, healthy, trigger-free groups of friends to help prevent relapse.
One of the quickest ways to relapse is to become bored. Most recovering addicts who have years of sobriety under their belts tout staying busy and occupied with productive, healthy tasks and activities as one of the best things they did to keep themselves from thinking about – and relapsing with – the substance or substances they were once addicted to.
Exercise has been shown to raise the level of hormones that evoke a happy or positive mood. A positive mood helps to curb the desire to take part in addictive behavior or toxic substances. Even 30 minutes a day a few times a week or a short walk in the mornings can help recovering addicts avoid relapse.
Seek Inpatient Treatment
A preemptive strike is often a great approach in dealing with potential relapse. If an addict finds him or herself feeling a lack of willpower, a desire to partake of the substance to which he or she was addicted, or simply feels that treatment would be helpful, inpatient treatment can offer the supportive environment, emotional and physical health resources, and tools that those recovering from addiction need to stay the course. There is no shame in admitting that help is needed, and it’s best to seek it earlier rather than later.
Healthy eating can do wonders for recovering addicts. A healthy body is a healthy mind, and in much the same way that regular exercise can help prevent relapse, a healthy diet can, as well. Try to seek out fruits, vegetables, and food that is minimally processed.
Find Fulfilling Work
For many recovering addicts, finding a job or career that is fulfilling and enjoyable is another great way to avoid relapse. Many times recovering addicts relapse because they reach for toxic substances as a way to cope with stress, frustration, or unhappiness. Having a positive work environment can help reduce the stress in a person’s life, thus making it far less likely that he or she will relapse.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal about daily events, fears, concerns, successes, and so forth can be a great way to reduce stress and avoid relapse. Many people keep their feelings inside and when those feelings boil up, sometimes they reach for drugs or alcohol to cope. But many recovering addicts have found that simply getting their feelings down on paper in a safe place can be very helpful in relieving the stress that comes with them.
Set Small Goals and Celebrate Them
Keep a running “Days Sober” list. Set goals in small increments and celebrate them with supportive and positive friends or family members when they’re achieved. By continually focusing on successes, days sober, and little victories many addicts have avoided relapse.
By trying some or all of these tips, it is possible to avoid relapse. Never fear seeking treatment ahead of time, as a preemptive strike with inpatient treatment can help recovering addicts avoid a relapse down the road. Ensuring that a positive, supportive, clean, and safe environment – including physical, emotional, and social – is maintained can be the difference between relapse and full, long-term recovery.