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Sobriety Maintenance & Relapse Prevention

Whether you’re in recovery due to alcohol or drug addiction, the road to enjoying a sober and healthy lifestyle is one that requires a fair share of commitment and discipline. Old behaviors will often tempt you, offering the potential for relapse and the negative connotations associated with its presence. In order to lower the risk of relapse, recovering addicts must employ a variety of strategies and techniques.

The Reward System

Brushing off old habits is easier said than done, especially in cases where the long-term benefits are far from view. In an effort to keep themselves from going astray, many recovering addicts adhere to a rewards system comprised of short-term goals. Example: For each week sober, reward yourself with a trip to your favorite eating establishment.


Studies suggest that roughly 90% of recovering addicts who attend weekly post-care sessions, like AA, during their first year of recovery were successfully able to avoid relapse. 12 step recovery programs such as these place individuals in touch with a community of people who share the same goals and struggles. Not only will participation in these types of organizations keep you focused and determined to succeed, but gaining a sense of community outside the bar or drug scene will work to ward off regular temptations.

Avoiding Temptation

Keep away from people, areas and items that may trigger your temptations. Example: If you are recovering from alcoholism, it’s likely a good idea to avoid bars and the acquaintances who linger around them. Rather than pretend that you’re content to simply “tag along”, try seeking out other types of activities and gatherings that support your sobriety goals. Consider this an opportunity to seek out new relationships and activities while reinventing your own self-image.

Stress Maintenance

The road to relapse is often paved with a solid helping of stress. Due to the fact that most people utilize drugs and alcohol as a stress-relief tactic, it’s crucial that recovering addicts find new ways to cope. Example: Smokers who use cigarettes to relax following a rough work day often look to tobacco as a form of stress-management. As tensions will often escalate once the coping mechanism is removed, experts suggest that recovering addicts engage in routine exercise and proper diet to compensate. Additional options include yoga, the arts, and meditation. Try experimenting with some new activities and dive in to something that really gets your motor revving.

Keep in Mind:

–          Just because you’re tempted to use again, does not mean you have to

–          Avoid self-criticism – Stay optimistic!

–          If you do relapse, don’t let it consume you. Get. That. Dirt off your shoulder – focus – and get back in the game.

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