The Best Ways to Prevent Relapse

HHRC-Rebellious young girl with lack of self-acceptance and drug addiction problem during an individual psychotherapy session with

Relapse is not assured, but it does occur frequently. Although not everyone relapses, many do. Fortunately, specific relapse prevention tactics might assist you in maintaining control.

Addiction is “a chronic brain illness marked by an inability to regulate drug use.” Because the term is “chronic,” relapse is an element of the disorder. Relapse is a contentious topic because people want to feel they have some control over their addiction.

Today, we will focus on relapse. Understanding specific relapse causes and statistics might help you be more prepared when faced with this element of recovery. If you think about giving in to your drug and alcohol cravings again after completing a substance addiction treatment program, adopt these ways to prevent relapse to stay sober.

What Causes Relapse?

Addiction is a chronic medical disorder marked by an inability to manage substance use, notwithstanding the consequences. According to previous surveys, more than 20 million Americans aged 12 and older were impacted by addiction or drug use problems.

Because addiction is a chronic condition, relapse—the return to substance misuse after being drug or alcohol-free—is a common feature of the disorder. In reality, over half of persons who struggle with drug or alcohol addiction relapse in recovery. The recurrence rate for drug misuse is estimated to be 40% to 60%, similar to the incidence of relapse for other chronic medical conditions such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.

What Is the Importance of a Relapse Prevention Plan?

Learning to live a joyful life in recovery requires relapse precaution skills. One day at a time, one may learn to put these coping strategies into practice to avoid relapse and live a life beyond their greatest expectations.

Recovery from alcohol or other substances is a human development process with developmental milestones. Relapse is possible at any level of recovery, making relapse avoidance strategies extremely important to know and comprehend.

To prevent relapse there are many strategies that one can incorporate into their daily life. Techniques on how to write a relapse prevention plan are taught at most alcohol and drug treatment centers. Clients learn these techniques to help them maintain their recovery and reach long-term goals. It is common to believe that the skills for preventing relapse can only be used when needed. These skills must be incorporated into every recovering person’s daily routine and schedule to reduce or prevent cravings.

There are the best ways to prevent relapse:

1. Self-Care

Insomnia and exhaustion are common post-acute withdrawal symptoms in those recovering from addiction. According to the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), these are frequent possible relapse triggers. One can increase sleep quality by including physical exercise and a well-balanced diet. This may be accomplished by creating and adhering to a planned sleep, exercise, and food regimen. This will assist in retraining the body to sleep correctly and lessen the likelihood of recurrence.


The acronym HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired, which are typical triggers for many recovering drinkers and addicts. When you have a yearning for drugs or feel worried or “off,” ask yourself whether you are experiencing any of these signs. A frequent inventory of HALT can help reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

3. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a notion that helps people become more self-aware. We can better deal with possible relapse triggers when we are more self-aware. An NCBI research indicated that persons in recovery who utilize a mindfulness meditation do much better than those who do not. Individuals who practiced mindfulness meditation stayed clean and sober for extended periods, reported fewer cravings, and improved awareness and acceptance.

Mindfulness meditation teaches participants to “roll with” their cravings and not to fight them. Mindfulness meditation is characterized by concepts such as accepting, letting down personal control, using prayer and letting go of any need to control. A relapse prevention program may instruct you to repeat a mantra three times and focus on your breath. This practice teaches participants to accept that cravings will occur.

4. Understand Your Triggers

Anxiety, impatience, stress, wrath, and low self-esteem are internal triggers (people, places, or things that remind one of their past use). Making a list of internal and external triggers is an effective method for awareness of one’s triggers and lowering the likelihood of relapse.

5. Participate in a Support Group

A sponsor and peer support can be beneficial components of rehabilitation. Participating in a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), regularly gives support, accountability, education, and the opportunity to meet people who understand what you are going through. It also reduces feelings of loneliness and the possibility of isolation, which can be typical triggers for relapse.

6. Techniques for Grounding

When it comes to healing, stress, and worry are sometimes the most difficult challenges. A grounding approach known as the 5-4-3-2-1 coping strategy is an effective technique. It helps you to focus on the moment by guiding you through the five senses. The first of the five stages is to take a few deep breaths, followed by the following:

  • 5: Name five items you notice around you.
  • 4: Recognize four items around you that you can touch.
  • 3: Name three sounds you can hear around you.
  • 2: Name two items that you can smell around you.
  • 1: Recognize anything you can taste around you.

Finish this practice by taking a long, deep breath. Use your senses to increase self-awareness and mindfulness and control everyday tasks. This will allow you to feel less overwhelmed and more in control. It will also help reduce the risk of relapse.

7. Deep Inhalation

As you are aware, breathing is essential to life. Many people are unaware of how much power they have over their lives by changing their breathing patterns. Breathing is not only linked to several vital activities throughout your body, but it also has a significant impact on your brain chemistry. Breathing has a significant influence on your emotions and helps to control your overall mood. This is why deep breathing is so crucial for mental wellness.

Deep breathing causes your brain to produce neurotransmitters, many of which activate feel-good hormones that result in relaxation, happiness, and pain relief. The enhanced oxygen flow from deep breathing promotes your body to expel pollutants. The 4 x 4 breathing technique is an effective deep breathing technique. Take four deep breaths through your nose, hold for four seconds, and then exhale. While breathing, you should feel your diaphragm move in and out. Deep breathing is an effective relapse prevention strategy since it can be done anywhere without anybody noticing.

8. Make a List of Emergency Contacts

When a desire arises, it might be challenging to control it, especially at the start of recovery. Having a safe person to chat with might help you overcome the urge and remember why you don’t want to return to your old habits. It is very beneficial to make a list of friends and family members you can call for assistance. Keeping that list with you is always critical since it is a readily available resource that you may use to call someone safe immediately.

Key Takeaway

Addiction is a brain disorder, and prolonged drinking and drug use may cause abnormalities in particular brain circuits and neurological processes. Knowing what causes relapse and having a strategy to cope with them will help you avoid using them again. Follow these tips to keep on track with your recuperation.

What Is the Best Way to Prevent Relapse?

Implementing these examples of the best ways to prevent relapse into your everyday routine will significantly lower the chances of it occurring. However, these techniques can only bring you so far away from the chances of relapsing. The best way to prevent it is by getting help from professionals.

House Haven Recovery Center can assist you in preventing future relapses. Our rehab centers in Nashville, TN, and Santa Rosa Beach, FL, employ a 12-step method to help men with long-term treatment and recovery from smoking to substance abuse. Please get in touch with us if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction.

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