Top 10 Tips to Prevent Relapse

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Peace Valley Recovery is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide patient-centered care that focuses on healing and recovery from addiction. This blog provides information, news, and uplifting content to help people in their recovery journey.

Authored by Elliott Redwine, | Medically Reviewed by Peace Valley Recovery Editorial Staff,
Last Updated: March 5, 2023

Every person in recovery from drug addiction is at risk for relapse, no matter how much time it’s been since they last used a substance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a disorder indicated by compulsive drug use, often despite any consequences, that leads to long-lasting changes in the brain.

Addiction is both a chronic and relapsing disease. This means, similar to other diseases like hypertension and asthma, that it has no cure. Relapse is a common part of all chronic diseases and addiction is no different. Studies place the rates of relapse for substance use disorders anywhere between 40 and 60 percent.

If you’re in recovery from a substance use disorder and relapsed, it does not mean that you failed. It doesn’t negate your previous efforts to stay drug-free and it doesn’t mean that any treatment program you attended wasn’t successful. But it doesn’t mean that you should use it as an excuse to continue using drugs, either.

Although there is no cure for addiction, there are things you can do to prevent relapse. It takes proactive and ongoing effort to counter addiction’s disruptive effects on your brain. You have plenty of resources available to support your long-term recovery journey. These tips can give you some ideas to incorporate into your recovery in order to stay clean and sober.

1. Lay the groundwork with a comprehensive addiction treatment program.

It isn’t easy to stop the cycle of addiction on your own. You aren’t alone if you’ve had a hard time trying to quit using by yourself. Addiction treatment is a great place to start when you’re looking to get clean. It places you in an environment where you can focus all your energy on laying the groundwork to prevent relapse and live a life of long-term recovery.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

There are many different options for addiction treatment programs available depending on your needs. From detox to inpatient facilities to outpatient programs, there is a program for you. The combination of individual and group therapy, educational classes, and experiential therapy options help you learn to live free from drugs.

2. Attend your treatment program all the way through.

It might seem obvious to some, but an important part of preventing relapse includes attending your treatment program the entire way through. People who choose to leave treatment early against clinical advice hinder their recovery. Even if there are aspects of addiction treatment that you don’t fully enjoy, there’s always something to learn and take away from them.

The effort you put into treatment sets the pace for your recovery journey. If you only put in a minimal amount of effort or leave your program early, you aren’t giving yourself the best chance to remain sober. If you get the opportunity to attend treatment, take advantage of it and make the most of the program available to you.

3. Develop and follow through on your aftercare plan.

Toward the end of your time in treatment, you’ll sit with your counselor or case manager and develop an aftercare plan. Aftercare refers to the support plan you’ll follow after graduating your program and leaving the treatment facility. Adhering to your outlined program is one of the best ways to prevent relapse.

The majority of aftercare plans include some form of outpatient program or drug and alcohol counseling. Some include 12-step meetings or living in a sober living. The details of your specific aftercare plan will depend on the requirements and offerings available at your facility.

4. Build a support network to keep in touch with after treatment.

Trying to stay away from drugs and prevent relapse on your own is a difficult challenge. It’s more tempting to turn back to drugs when you don’t have a support group to hold you accountable. It’s helpful to have a group you can turn to when you’re feeling alone and challenged by the pressures of living drug-free.

Your aftercare plan may include group therapy which is a great place to start. Find a few people from your group who you’d