Actions You Can Take to Prevent Relapse

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“Recent estimates from clinical treatment studies suggest that more than two-thirds of individuals relapse within weeks to months of initiating treatment,” according to Current Psychiatry Reports. Facilities like White House Recovery and Detox include relapse prevention education as a standard part of any treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). Psychotherapy offered during rehabilitation also focuses on reducing thought patterns and behaviors that might lead to setbacks. 

You learn a lot of information about the causes and side effects of addiction during your treatment. Once you return home, you will start to recognize certain things that trigger intrusive thoughts and cravings. Identifying those and then countering them with healthy alternatives will keep your recovery moving forward. 

Common Causes of Relapse

Relapse often gets misunderstood. Many people believe that your recovery is complete once you go through rehabilitation and start living independently. However, recovery does not end after residential or outpatient treatment. Succeeding at long-term sobriety means remaining vigilant and finding healthy ways to cope with stressors and challenges you face along the way. Common causes of relapse include the following: 

  • Stress
  • Extended withdrawal symptoms
  • Symptoms caused by mental health disorders like anxiety and depression 
  • Triggered memories and intrusive thoughts
  • Cravings

Every person has triggers unique to their past and experiences. You may find that certain people, places, or things cause cravings or sense memories. Sometimes they can be intense and last for long periods. Finding ways to distract yourself and redirect your focus will help reduce their effect. You can lower the risks related to triggers by doing the following: 

  • Taking action to reduce stress
  • Going to support groups and attending individual therapy
  • Getting regular medical check-ups and using prescribed medications as directed to manage symptoms
  • Avoiding problematic places, people, and situations
  • Using healthy coping skills like meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises to redirect thoughts

Take Steps to Lower Stress

Everything from what you eat to social activities and even your sleep schedule can impact stress levels. People in recovery from SUD are often hypersensitive to stress. In addition, the habitual thought patterns that accompany anxiety can cause cravings. Lowering your stress levels through healthy coping mechanisms can decrease the risk of relapse. A few easy ways to destress your life include the following: 

  • Decrease caffeine consumption
  • Eat nutritional meals 
  • Keep a physical or digital journal
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Practice positive thinking 
  • Do activities that bring you joy
  • Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep every night
  • Spend time with loved ones 

Sticking to a Routine After Treatment

Daily routines are essential during recovery because they help you stay busy and promote healthy living. You will need to look for ways to avoid returning to maladaptive behaviors, and knowing what to expect from every day can make that easier. The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine states, “When presented with a choice, individuals typically pick the option that is the easiest, quickest, and most enjoyable.” 

Below are a few common suggestions for building a routine: 

  • Have a wake-up routine that incorporates self-care
  • Make time each week to spend time with friends or loved ones
  • Attend weekly support group meetings and therapy
  • Make time every day to do something you enjoy
  • Have a sleep schedule and nightly routine

No matter what form it takes for you, it is vital to follow a set routine. Sometimes knowing what comes next is all it takes to get through a stressful period. 

4 Simple Ways to Keep Yourself Accountable

You will be less likely to relapse if you have ways to keep yourself accountable for your sobriety. Below are four simple tips: 

#1. Mark off how many days you have remained sober on a calendar or in a journal so when you feel cravings, you can look at those days and remember how far you have already come. The number of days checked off will grow along with your self-confidence.

#2. Talk with close friends and family about your struggles with substance abuse and your decision to be sober. When you encounter challenging situations and feel like slipping back into old patterns, remember those people in your life who you would let down by taking those actions. Reach out to them for encouragement during hard days and use your relationships to motivate you to stay sober. 

#3. Get a sponsor who can encourage you, share advice, and keep you accountable for your choices. You may find it easier to talk with someone who understands what you experience during cravings, and it can help to contact them when you encounter something triggering. 

#4. Make a list of things that give you hope for the future, goals you would like to achieve, and motivations to stay sober. You can reference this list to remind you why staying sober matters, and self-accountability will help you reach those goals. 

No one likes to think about the possibility of relapsing, but you should not ignore this part of recovery. Approximately two-thirds of all individuals who seek treatment for substance use disorder will relapse at least once during their recovery. However, you are more than a statistic, and your recovery journey does not have to include returning to unwanted habits. By preparing yourself to cope with common triggers and intrusive thoughts, you can significantly decrease the risk of relapse. White House Recovery and Detox offers relapse prevention education. Our dedicated staff has the expertise and knowledge necessary to help you learn new ways of processing and regulating emotion so stressors in your life do not trigger intrusive thoughts or desires. We have the tools you need to stay sober. Learn more about our program and our services by reaching out to White House Recovery and Detox. Call us today at (800) 510-5393.