Any recovering addict will tell you that getting sober is only half the battle.
You should absolutely be proud of yourself for getting clean and giving up the substances you’ve abused in the past. But, now, you’re facing a new challenge: You have to stay sober.
In order to stay sober, you have to be vigilant about avoiding relapses. If you’re not sure how to go about this, keep reading.
Listed below are eight effective relapse prevention strategies you can implement to maintain your sobriety.
1. Avoid Triggering Situations as Much as Possible
It might not be possible to completely avoid triggering situations when you’re in recovery. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t actively seek out events and gatherings where drugs or alcohol will be present.
Especially when you’re in the early stages of recovery, you’ll likely need to stay away from situations like parties, clubs, and bars. You may also need to avoid spending time with individuals who drink or use drugs.
It can be hard explaining to friends or family members that you aren’t able to be around them right now. But, your recovery is the most important thing.
Remember, if these people truly care about you, they’ll understand the importance of your sobriety and why you can’t do certain things you used to do.
2. Develop a Support System
You may need to distance yourself from some individuals while you work on staying sober. It’s important to make sure you still have a strong support system in your life.
Ideally, your friends and family will act as this support system. If you find that being around them is too triggering, though, you’ll need to see, support elsewhere. For example, you can search online to find local support groups that meet in your area.
3. Keep Going to Therapy
Therapy ought to be a regular part of your life during recovery.
It doesn’t matter if it’s been three months since you last consumed drugs or alcohol or three years. Going to therapy on a consistent basis will help you maintain the resilience you need to resist temptation and stay sober.
In the early stages of your sobriety, you may need to go to therapy several times per week. As time goes on, though, you will likely be able to gradually decrease the amount of time you spend working with a therapist.
After a while, you may be able to get by with seeing your therapist just once a week, or maybe even once a month.
4. Stick to Your Medications
If you’re using medication like Lofexidine or methadone to help manage your withdrawal symptoms, make sure you take them as your doctor prescribes.
Some people in recovery struggle with taking medication because of the social stigmas surrounding certain drugs. Remember the most important thing is your recovery.
If taking medication helps you stay on the straight and narrow, then take it. Don’t worry about what other people think — their opinions don’t matter.
5. Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated
Eating a nutrient-dense diet can help you resist cravings and stay healthy during your recovery.
When you consume foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, your brain and body will function better and it will be easier for you to say no during tempting situations.
So, what should you be eating?
There’s no one perfect diet you ought to stick to. But, the following guidelines are a good starting point:
- High-quality protein sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc.
- Fruits and vegetables: Especially antioxidant-rich fruits like berries and leafy green vegetables
- Healthy fats: Extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, etc.
It’s also important to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Water has a variety of reparative properties that can help heal your brain and body from the damage caused by drug or alcohol abuse. Water also helps your body’s natural detoxification processes work more efficiently.
6. Get Plenty of Sleep
Many people experience insomnia or feelings of restlessness when they’re in recovery. It’s important to do your best to get plenty of sleep during this time.
Sufficient sleep (both in quantity and quality) helps you resist cravings and maintain a stable mood.
If you have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep at night, make an effort to establish and stick to a strict bedtime routine. Go to bed at the same time every night, and stop using electronics a few hours before bed. Read or listen to music instead.
7. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise helps your body to release endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that help minimize drug cravings and promote a positive mood.
Exercise can also help you sleep better and night promotes more water consumption and helps you establish the discipline you need to stay sober.
If you’re brand new to exercise, start by simply going for a walk each day or doing some light stretching. Over time, you can try other activities like weight lifting or aerobics.
8. Reduce Your Stress (or Learn to Manage it Better)
Finally, look for ways to reduce and manage your stress. The better you’re able to manage your stress, the less likely you are to give in to temptation and cravings.
There are lots of techniques you can use to manage your stress and improve your mental health, including the following:
- Massage therapy
- Journal writing
- Art therapy
If none of these stress management tactics appeal to you, don’t panic. There’s something for everyone. If you’re working with a therapist, you can also talk to them about other techniques you can use to keep your stress levels as low as possible.
Looking for More Relapse Prevention Strategies
You now have some helpful relapse prevention strategies in your arsenal that you can use should you be faced with a trigger or temptation.
If you need more help in preventing relapse, consider checking out some of our online resources.
We’ve got lots of helpful articles and other tools that will provide you with the information and motivation you need to maintain your sobriety even during the most difficult stages of life.