Here are 5 best practices for avoiding relapse during recovery.

Addiction to drugs and alcohol is a serious disease, and making the decision to seek help isn’t an easy task. It takes time and lots of patience, but in the end, it’s always worth it. Recovery is an ongoing process, and completing a treatment program is only the first step toward sobriety. Although some people never relapse after getting sober, others don’t have that same experience. If you recently completed an addiction program or are thinking about getting sober, it’s important to understand how to avoid a relapse.

5 Rules of Relapse Prevention

Here are 5 best practices for avoiding relapse during recovery:

1. Avoid Triggering Situations

There are certain situations where drug and alcohol use is part of the culture. Think bars, clubs, raves, certain areas of college campuses, homes of friends who use, etc.

While it may be tempting to go to these places to “prove” that you can stay sober – don’t do it. If you are serious about maintaining your sobriety, avoid locations where it may be tempting to use again. This is particularly important early in recovery when temptations are often strong.

2. Get Rid Of Toxic Friends

Once you’ve made the decision to stop drinking or doing drugs, you need to change your routine and life. Getting rid of the toxic people in your life is one of the first steps in this process.

If you are serious about not exposing yourself to drugs and alcohol, spending time with people who use is not an option. Remember: the person who sells you drugs or buys you alcohol is not really your best friend.

3. Develop A Positive Support Network

You can’t navigate sobriety alone, and no one expects you to. It’s important to have healthy people around to help during your low points and to remind you why you made the decision to get sober. Surround yourself with positive people who don’t engage in substance use and who are supportive of your substance-free lifestyle. This could be family, friends, and people you meet during group meetings.

4. Stay In Therapy

Now that you’re sober, you have a world of emotional issues to confront that you used to cover with drugs and alcohol. You may find that your relationships are struggling or you’re stressed all the time. It’s important that you learn how to deal with these situations in a healthy way.

Continue weekly appointments with a therapist for at least a year or two after getting sober, and also consider attending group meetings. This will help provide you with the coping mechanisms needed to maintain sobriety.

5. Take Medications As Needed

Roughly 50% of addicts suffer from a dual diagnosis. If you’re one of them, it’s essential that you take your medications on a regular basis. Not only is it important to your mental health, but it’s also critical to avoiding a relapse.

Anxietydepression, and other psychological disorders all contribute to the use of drugs and alcohol. In many instances, the symptoms of these diseases are all controlled with medicine. However, just because your symptoms go away doesn’t mean you’re cured. So, continue taking your medications as needed throughout recovery.

What To Do If You Relapse

Okay, so what happens if you relapse? Does that automatically make you a failure? 

No, it doesn’t.

Every day of your new life is a step in the right direction. If you were able to get clean and sober once, you can do it again. Reach out to your support system and get the help you need. Begin working your recovery program again. And start processing the emotions that led you to relapse so that it doesn’t happen again. Learn from your mistakes, and move forward the best you can.

a woman with blonde hair and a green shirt.
By – Christina Bockisch
Christina Bockisch uses her personal experiences managing her mental health to help people realize they’re not alone and to know that their story matters. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.