Staying Sober: How to Prevent a Relapse
The battle for sobriety never ends. Addiction may be a treatable disease, but it’s also a chronic disease, requiring constant vigilance. Relapse is the price of complacency. That being said, many people experience relapse as a normal part of the recovery process.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of all individuals with addiction problems will return to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives. That number drops significantly when someone seeks formal treatment, but even those who participate in recovery programs aren’t immune from setbacks. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep the disease of addiction at bay.
How to Stay Sober: 7 Tips for Avoiding Relapse
No two individuals are exactly alike, and no two rehab journeys follow the same path. That being said, there are a few tips on living sober that can help people of all backgrounds prevent a relapse.
- Know Your Triggers: The first few weeks and months of sobriety are crucial; that’s when you begin to test your own strengths and weaknesses. Of course, everyone has different triggers. One person may succumb to temptation after talking with an old friend. The mere sight of drug paraphernalia may give rise to intense cravings in someone else. Common triggers include stress, acquaintances who encourage substance use, and places that bring back old memories. As time goes on, you’ll need to identify the specific places, people, emotions, or objects that threaten to steer you off course.
- Create a Plan: A well-conceived plan is the key to success—in life, in business, and in recovery. If you want to enjoy a lifetime of sobriety, then you need to think ahead. Create a relapse prevention plan and share it with someone you trust (counselor, family member, sober friend). When times get tough, a little preparation can save you from a recurrence. Just remember one thing: No plan survives contact with reality. Don’t be afraid to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Avoid Harmful Relationships: Some friends lift you up. Others bring you down. The period during and after rehab is the time to take control of your life, and that means choosing your relationships carefully. It’s best to avoid friends who still take part in the drug culture. You may empathize with their plight, but you can’t afford to let their continuing substance use interrupt your dreams of a healthy, fulfilling life.
- Take Refuge in Your Support Network: On the flipside are positive, supportive relationships—friends, family, and mentors that have your best interests at heart. Research has consistently shown that those who build strong support networks are more likely to stay sober. The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Stay Away from Old Hang-Outs: Bars, clubs, parties, concerts, even an old friend’s house can stir up memories and lead to temptation. During the first few weeks and months of your sobriety, it’s important to stay away from any place that may act as a trigger, particularly venues that are hives of drug and alcohol use.
- Take Up a New Hobby: Being careful isn’t the same thing as being antisocial. In fact, it’s more important than ever to find hobbies and groups that point you in a positive direction. Take up sports, learn photography, do yoga—anything that keeps you active, happy and productive.
- Re-Enter Rehab: If all else fails, you can always seek refuge in a rehab center. Reentering the safe, supportive environment of RECO Institute’s sober living centers can give you the space and time you need to recover.
Successful rehabilitation requires a balancing act. One must avoid complacency without ever falling prey to discouragement. Never take your sobriety for granted, but never let a temporary stumbling block stop your forward progress. No matter how far along you are in your journey, it’s important that you stay in touch with RECO Institute to keep yourself on track. Let’s move forward together.